Director's Reports

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2024 Director's Reports

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Report from the Director

I want to start this letter by wishing Happy New Year(!) to our community. I’m finishing it on Martin Luther King Day, and I’ve been thinking about his life. I was a paper boy when he was assassinated, and I’ve never forgotten that banner headline on the Washington Post (“Dr. King is slain in Memphis” in capitals) in the early morning after. I can remember who supported him and who didn’t, and these days, I hear a lot of people praise him that I’m sure back then would have been against him and his mission. In any case, I hope that everyone took some time to consider the lessons that can be learned from his life, philosophy, vision, and accomplishments, and how far we still have to go.

I think it’s fine to say Happy New Year, at least until the spring semester begins. I hope people were able to have a quiet and reflective end of 2023. We can expect that 2024 will be an important year for LDEO, and in fact, for the USA. As I’m finishing this letter on Martin Luther King Day, I wonder what he would be thinking.

Over the holiday, it turned out that I managed to hear Beethoven’s Ninth live, not once but twice. Once was in Hamburg, Germany, just before New Year, and at Carnegie Hall just afterward. It made me wonder if there is some relation between New Years and the Ninth, but before asking the question here, I did my usual thing and checked Wikipedia. The answer is yes, and essentially all over the world, independent of the local ideology. The performance in Carnegie Hall reminded me of how amazing the acoustics are there. While sitting up in the stratosphere, I could still hear every note played by the bass (Hamburg’s acoustics were great too). For the record, I attribute everything I know about music beyond rock and roll to taking Music Humanities as an undergraduate (thank you, Columbia!), and with my unsophisticated outlook, I’m one of the many who consider Beethoven’s Ninth the best music ever composed.

Anyway, speaking of the Ninth (or more likely because of it), over the holidays I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of thinking out of the box. Is out of the box thinking innate? Can it be learned? How important is it? Is it always resisted and criticized? The Ninth is the best example I know of out of the box thinking – not only did Beethoven, for the first time, add voices to a symphony (a revolutionary act!), but he treated the voices as musical instruments (I wish I had come up with that myself, but it’s from my Music Hum teacher). According to Wikipedia, even the Ninth had its detractors - "early critics rejected [the finale] as cryptic and eccentric, the product of a deaf and aging composer. … Verdi admired the first three movements but lamented what he saw as the bad writing for the voices in the last movement”.

In the history of the geosciences, we learn that the plate tectonics revolution was an example of totally blowing a box apart. It was a box that contained and constrained geology and geophysics to the extent that in the USA, advocating that continents move was a good way to ensure that one would not achieve tenure. One would hope that we are beyond that by now, but based on a lot of experience with manuscript and NSF reviews, I think even getting close to the edge of a box is a good way to be declined. Having said that, during my time at Lamont I’ve been amazed by my mentors and colleagues and their ability to think out of the box; one of the pleasures of my own life and career has been to have had the privilege to learn from them.

To get back to my questions, here is my view. Clearly, thinking out of the box can be dangerous for one’s career. Living within the system and getting outside of the box is an art that we need to learn. Is out of the box thinking innate? Can it be learned? I do think it can be learned, and I hope that here at Lamont, we encourage it. How important is it? I think it’s not necessary to be a good scientist, but it is necessary to be a great one.


Town Hall with President Shafik: We’re excited that she will come to speak to us at Lamont on Wednesday, January 31, 10:00 AM, Monell Auditorium.

Winter Welcome Back Party: We are giving this party for ourselves, post-holiday, this Friday, January 19, 5:30-8:30 PM, in Comer. There will be a band, music, drinks, and buses back to the city at 8:00 and 8:45 PM.

The Graduate Student Committee’s 2024 DEES Calendar, which features photos from graduate students captured during fieldwork, field trips, and travels can still be purchased for $15 by filling out this Google Form or emailing Caitlin Dieck Locke. Also, it will be sold at the WWB Party.


There is a lot of news from DEES – New Faculty titles:

Peter Kelemen has transitioned from the Arthur D. Storke Memorial Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences to the Thomas Alva Edison/Con Edison Professor.

Göran Ekström is the new Newberry Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences. This chair was previously held by Wally Broecker.

Sidney Hemming is the new Arthur D. Storke Memorial Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Nicholas Christie-Blick officially retired as of New Year’s Day but is still here as Professor Emeritus of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

And big news from the Climate School:

Jason Smerdon was granted tenure effective January 1. Jason is Professor of Climate, Co-Senior Director for Education, and Co-Director of the Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development, 2024.

And from LDEO – New Director of the Hudson River Field Station on the Piermont Pier:

Margie Turrin, in addition to being Director of Educational Field Programs, is now Director of the Hudson River Field Station, succeeding Maureen Raymo, who held the position since the Station's establishment in 2019. 


Sharon Katz Cooper, Education and Outreach Officer, U.S. Science Support Program (USSSP), Marine/Large Programs, was honored with the Neil Miner Award by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers for outstanding contributions to sparking interest in Earth sciences. She was also chosen for the 2023 cohort of the American Geophysical Union LANDInG Academy program, which focuses on cultivating diversity, equity, and inclusion leadership in the Earth and space sciences.

Ajit Subramaniam, along with Professors Paige West, Claire Tow Professor of Anthropology at Barnard, Pamela Smith (Center for Science and Society), and Postdoctoral Researcher Michael Petriello (Center for Science and Society), received the Columbia Office of the Provost Societal Impact Seed Grant for their project, "Indigenous and Locally Led Knowledge Co-Production to Understand Environmental Change." The grant will fund a series of roundtable discussions between Columbia researchers and Indigenous partners, exploring intersections between Indigenous and scholarly epistemic production.

Oana Dumitru, an LDEO Postdoctoral Fellow who just moved to the University of Florida as Assistant Professor, received the PAGES Early-Career Award (ECA), for “expertise in geochronology and geochemistry applied in paleoclimatology to improve knowledge on past global sea level within an interdisciplinary framework”. The ECA Committee commended Oana's “outstanding scientific contributions, leadership in the PALSEA working group, organizational efforts in scientific events, and dedication to supporting less-resourced students”. Oana will receive the award at the following PAGES' 7th Open Science Meeting (OSM) in Shanghai, China, from 21-24 May 2024.

Langseth Photo Contest:

Congratulations to the winners of the R/V Langseth Waves of Discovery photo contest!


From Kevin Krajick: who says “this important new study coauthored by Beizhan Yan has gotten probably more news coverage than anything we have ever done”:

From Kevin Krajick: here is a feature on the Lamont core repository:

From Maureen Raymo:

“I just want to draw your special attention to a paper published in Science yesterday by one of our Lamont/DEES colleagues. Prof. Bärbel Hönisch led a large international consortium of colleagues to the publication of the most comprehensive record of atmospheric CO2 for the Cenozoic that exists. This is/was an extraordinary effort taking vision and international leadership over many years. When I was an assistant professor in the 90s, finding a proxy for past atmospheric CO2 levels, beyond the reach of ice cores, was the “holy grail” of paleoclimate studies. Nobody knew if it would ever be possible. 

Bärbel, through your research, drive, and community leadership (and of course the collaboration of many dozens of colleagues around the world) we now have this information, in particular in a format the whole world can use.

Congratulations on this exceptional and singular achievement!”


From Brendan Reilly: I note that this is a very important workshop:

The NSF-OCE-supported “FUTURE of US Marine Seafloor and Sub-Seafloor Sampling Capabilities Workshop” will be held in Woods Hole, MA from 26-28 March 2024. For details and to apply, visit the program website.  Conveners: Masako Tominaga (WHOI), Maureen Walczak (Oregon State), Kevin Konrad (UNLV) Brendan Reilly (LDEO)and Matt Schrenk (Michigan State)

That’s enough for now.





A New Study Finds High Levels of Nanoplastics in Bottled Water
CBS News
January 10, 2024
Video features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Researchers Find a Massive Number of Plastic Particles in Bottled Water
January 10, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Diet for a Sick Planet: Studies Find More Plastic in Our Food and Bottled Water
Inside Climate News 
January 10, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Water in Plastic Bottles and Risks to Health
Diario Las Americas
January 10, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

One Water Bottle Can Contain 240,000 Tiny Plastic Pieces. Here's What to Do If You're Worried.'
Business Insider
January 10, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Microplastics in Bottled Water: Study Sets Off Alarms
Radio Duna
January 10, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Bottled Water: A Hidden Source of Nanoplastics and Its Potential Health Impacts
January 10, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

A 1783 Eruption in Iceland May Have Been Catastrophic for Northwest Alaska, Scientists Say
Article quotes Lamont tree ring scientists Rosanne D'Arrigo and Gordon Jacoby.
January 9, 2024

2023 Beats Record for Hottest Year on Record by Larger than Expected Margin
PBS NewsHour
January 9, 2024
Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Radley Horton.

Thousands of Nanoplastics Found in Bottled Water
CBS News
January 9, 2024
Video features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Bottled Water Contains Alarmingly High Levels of Plastic, According to Study
Le Monde
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Bottled Water Contains Hundreds of Thousands Of Potentially Toxic Tiny Plastics, Study Finds
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Study Finds Bottled Water Filled with Near a Quarter Million Nanoplastic Particles
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Scientists Find an Alarming Amount of Plastics in Bottled Water
CBS Evening News
January 9, 2024
Video features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Bottled Water Has Up to 100 Times More Plastic Particles Than Previously Thought
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Average Liter of Bottled Water Contains 240,000 'Toxic' Plastic Particles
Common Dreams
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Bottled Water Has 'Orders of Magnitude' More Plastic than Once Known
Houston Chronicle
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Bottled Water Industry Pushes Back on New Study Warning of Nanoplastics
The Hill
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Cutting-Edge Microscopy Reveals Bottled Water Has 'Up to 100 Times' More Bits of Plastic than Previously Feared
The Register 
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Drinking Out of Plastic Water Bottles? You’re Consuming Nanoplastics
January 9, 2024
Segment features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

New Study Finds High Volume of Nanoplastics in Bottled Water
Packaging Gateway
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Bottled Water Could Contain Microplastics AND Nanoplastics
Inside Water 
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Bottled Water Has 100 Times More Nanoplastics Than Estimated: Study
News Nation
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Bottled Water Contains Hundreds of Thousands of Plastic Particles Small Enough to Invade Human Cells, Study Finds
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

New Technique Reveals True Count of Nanoplastics in Bottled Water
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Nanoplastics Way More Common in Bottled Water than Previously Thought
Scripps News
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Scientists Find Bottled Water Teeming with Nano Plastics
The Post 
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Bottled Water Is Safe? Research Reveals Alarming Findings
Economic Times
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Scientists Find Massive Invisible Nanoplastic Particles in Bottled Water
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Bottled Water Also Bottles Thousands of Plastic Particles, New Study Reveals
Deseret News
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Bottled Water Contains 100 Times More Plastic Nanoparticles than Previously Thought
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Bottled Water Contains Hundreds of Thousands of Tiny Plastic Fragments
Health News
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Bottled Water Contains Thousands of Previously Unknown Nanoplastics: Study
The Statesman
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Advanced Imaging Reveals Bottled Water Nanoplastics
The Engineer
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

How Many Nanoplastic Particles Does Your Bottle of Water Have?
Mint Lounge
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Study Reveals 240,000 Plastic Fragments in One-Litre Water Bottle
PTC News
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Bottled Water Contains Quarter of a Million Nanoplastics Pieces on Average, Scientists Find
Sky News
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Unbottling the Truth: Scientists Find Over 2 Lakh Tiny Plastic Fragments in a Bottle of Water India
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Bottled Water Can Contain over 300,000 Nanoplastics per Litre, Study Shows
Brussels Times
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

4 Scientists Said They're Cutting Back on Bottled Water after Measuring the Number of Microplastics Inside
Business Insider 
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Nanoplastics Make Up Around 90% of the Plastic Particles Found in Bottled Water
Chemistry World
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Bottled Water Is Swimming with Microplastics & Nanoplastics
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

US Study Finds Hundreds of Thousands of Nanoplastic Particles in Bottled Drinking Water
Down to Earth
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Nanoplastics Found in Bottled Water Raise Concerns Over Human Health
Open Access
January 9, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Bottled Water Contains Thousands of Nanoplastics S Small Thy Can Ivade the Body’s Cells, Study Says
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Scientists Find about a Quarter Million Invisible Nanoplastic Particles in a Liter of Bottled Water
AP News
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Bottled Water Contains Hundreds of Thousands of Potentially Dangerous Plastic Fragments: Study
The Hill 
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Here's What You're Really Swallowing When You Drink Bottled Water
Washington Post 
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Microplastics in Bottled Water at Least 10 Times Worse Than Once Thought
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Scientists Find About a Quarter Million Invisible Nanoplastic Prticles in a Liter of Bottled Water
ABC News
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Bottled Water Contains Up to 100 Times More Plastic than Previously Estimated, New Study Says
CBS News 
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Thousands of Nanoplastics Found in Bottled Water
Bottled Water Contains Hundreds of Thousands of Plastic Bits: Study
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Bottled Water Contains More Plastic Particles Than Previously Thought
Bloomberg News
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Researchers Discover Thousands of Nanoplastic Bits in Bottles of Drinking Water
Los Angeles Times
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Chemists Warn Bottled Water 100 Times Worse for Plastic Than Thought
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Scientists Find About a Quarter Million Invisible Microplastic Particles in a Liter of Bottled Water
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

One Liter of Bottled Water May Contain 240,000 Tiny Plastic Fragments
Smithsonian Magazine
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Quarter of a Million Tiny Pieces of Plastic Could Be Floating in Your Water Bottle
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Your Bottled Water Could Contain 130,000 Microscopic Pieces of Plastic
Fast Company
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Bottled Water Can Contain Hundreds of Thousands of Previously Uncounted Tiny Plastic Bits, Study Finds
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Bottled Water Can Contain Hundreds of Thousand of Tiny Plastic Bits Not Identified Until Now
Europa Press
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Bottled Water Can Contain Thousands of Tiny Plastic Particles: Study
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Bottled Water Contains Hundreds of Thousands of Minuscule Plastics, Say Scientists
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

A Liter of Bottled Water Has About 240,000 Nanoplastics
La Vanguardia 
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Average Bottle of Water Contains 240,000 Pieces of Cancer-Causing Nanoplastics - 100 Times More than Previously Thought
Daily Mail
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Hundreds of Thousands of Cancer-Causing Nanoplastics Found in Bottled Water
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

A New Technique Finds That Bottled Water Can Contains Thousands of Nanoparticls Capable of Infiltrating Cells
El Pais 
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Microplastics in Bottled Water Are More Abundant Than Previously Thought
Everyday Health
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

One Liter of Bottled Water Contains 240,000 Tiny Bits of Plastic
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

There Can Be 240,000 Plastic Particles in a Litre Bottle of Water
New Scientist
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Research Finds a Shocking Amount of Previously Undetected 'Nanoplastics' in Bottled Water
January 8, 2024
Article features research by Lamont scientists Beizhan Yan, Huipeng Deng, Teodora Maria Bratu, and colleagues.

Salt May Have Carved Out Mercury’s Terrains, Including Glacierlike Features
Science News
January 4, 2024
Article quotes Lamont geophysicist Sean Solomon.

Rare Earthquake Rattles New York, Sparks Small Explosions
January 4, 2024
Article quotes Lamont seismologist John Armbruster

The Times They Aren't a-Changing: More Carbon, More Heat, More Hot Air Expected in 2024
January 3, 2024
Article cites the work of late pioneering Lamont geochemist Wally Broecker.

A Minor Earthquake Hit New York City. How Often Does That Happen?
New York Times
January 2, 2024
Article quotes Lamont geophysicist John Mutter.

New York City Rocked by 1.7 Magnitude Earthquake Suspected of Causing Buildings to Shake
CBS New York
January 2, 2024
Interview with Lamont seismologist John Armbruster.

Earthquake Rattles Astoria, Other Parts of NYC
January 2, 2024
Interview with Lamont seismologist John Armbruster.

Earthquake Jolts NYC
ABC 7 News
January 2, 2024
Interview with Lamont structural geologist Folarin Kolawale.

Earthquake in NYC Reported, Linked to Roosevelt Island 'Explosion' Reports
Fox 5 New York
January 2, 2024
Interview with Lamont seismologist John Armbruster.

Grapes Used in Champagne May Become Harder to Grow Because of Climate Change
January 1, 2024
Interview with Lamont climate scientist Benjamin Cook.

Otherworldly Mini-Yellowstone Found in the Deep Sea
Ars Technica
December 28, 2023
Article quotes Lamont senior research assistant Hayley Drennon.

New Year's Eve Beverage Could Go Extinct Due to Climate Change, AI Company Predicts
December 29, 2023
Fox News
Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Benjamin Cook.

Our Favorite Science Stories of 2023
December 28, 2023
Article features research by the Lamont Tree Ring Lab.

Earth Was Due for Another Year of Record Warmth. But This Warm?
New York Times
December 26, 2023
Article quotes Lamont geochemist Bärbel Hönisch.

The Winds of Change: Foehn Drive Intense Melt
December 20, 2023
Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Marco Tedesco.

Iceland Volcano Erupts Near Grindavik After Weeks of Earthquakes
Wall Street Journal
December 19, 2023
Article quotes Lamont postdoc Conor Bacon.

How Sea-Level Rise Could Reshape South Florida Neighborhoods
Miami Herald
December 18, 2023
Article features research by Lamont postdoc Nadia Seeteram.

Snakes, Spores and Sewage: Life in the Neighborhood Called ‘the Hole’
New York Times
December 17, 2023
Article quotes Lamont geophysicist Klaus Jacob.

This Is What Was Found By Drilling Through 500 Meters of Greenland's Ice
La Razón
December 15, 2023
Article features research by Lamont scientists and colleagues on GreenDrill project.

12 Columbia Scientific Research Findings That Made a Splash in 2023
Columbia News
December 14, 2023
Article features research led by Lamont postdoc Nadia Seeteram.

The Climate Clues Buried Under Greenland’s Ice Sheet
Washington Post
December 14, 2023
Podcast features research by Lamont geochemist Joerg Schaefer, glacial geologist Allie Balter-Kennedy, and colleagues on GreenDrill project.

Scientists Drilled through 500 Metres of Greenland’s Ice — Here's What They Found at the Bottom
December 14, 2023
Article features Lamont glacial geologist Allie Balter-Kennedy and GreenDrill project.

A New Study Has Found that the Current Carbon Dioxide Levels on Earth Are the Highest They’ve Been in All of Human History.
The National Digest
December 12, 2023
Article features research led by Lamont geochemist Bärbel Hönisch.

Experts Say The Atmosphere Hasn’t Been Like This In 14 Million Years
Sci-Tech Today
December 11, 2023
Article features research led by Lamont geochemist Bärbel Hönisch.

28m High: Scientists Model NZ’s Risk from Tsunami-Making Quakes
New Zealand Herald
December 11, 2023
Article features research by Lamont seismologist Bruce Shaw and colleagues.

The Last Time CO2 Levels Were This High, Greenland Was Ice-Free and Humans Didn’t Exist: Study
December 10, 2023
Article features research led by Lamont geochemist Bärbel Hönisch.

There Is No Solace for the Present in a New 66 Million-Year History of Carbon Dioxide
Verna Magazine 
December 10, 2023
Article features research led by Lamont geochemist Bärbel Hönisch.

CO2 Levels Linked to Cascading Effects that Last for Millennia
December 10, 2023
Article features research led by Lamont geochemist Bärbel Hönisch.

New Climate Record Is a Reminder: Earth Used to Be Way Hotter, the Oceans Way Higher
USA Today
December 10, 2023
Article features research led by Lamont geochemist Bärbel Hönisch.

Why Dinosaur Footprints Inspired Paleontologist Martin Lockley
Popular Science
December 9, 2023
Article quotes Lamont paleontologist Paul Olsen.

Ancient Climate Analysis Suggests CO2 Causes More Warming than Thought
New Scientist
December 8, 2023
Article features research led by Lamont geochemist Bärbel Hönisch.

'Call to Action': CO2 Now at Levels Not Seen in 14 Million Years
Common Dreams
December 8, 2023
Article features research led by Lamont geochemist Bärbel Hönisch.

Expanding What we Know About Earth's Climate History & Future
December 8, 2023
Article features research led by Lamont geochemist Bärbel Hönisch.

A City-Size Iceberg Is Moving Out of Antarctic Waters
New York Times
December 7, 2023
Article quotes Lamont cryospheric geophysicist Indrani Das.

Can We Make Vermont's Forests More Like Old Forests, Faster?
Vermont Public Radio
December 4, 2023
Segment quotes Lamont plant physiologist Kevin Griffin.

Primordial Helium May Be Leaking from Earth's Core
Scientific American
December 2, 2023
Article quotes Lamont geochemist Cornelia Class.

Airlines Race Toward a Future of Powering Their Jets With Corn
New York Times
November 30, 2023
Article includes map data provided by Lamont climate scientist Richard Seager.

Electric Vehicle Push Returns North Carolina to Its Lithium Mining Roots
New York Times
November 30, 2023
Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Marco Tedesco.

Most Dinosaurs Were Killed by Climate Change, Not a Meteorite, New Study Suggests
November 29, 2023
Article quotes Lamont volcanologist Yves Moussallam.

Mud Libraries Hold the Story of the Earth’s Climate Past — and Foretell Its Future
November 26, 2023
Article features the Lamont Core Repository.

Scientists Discover Healthy Deep-Sea Coral Reef and New Seamounts in the Galápagos
Schmidt Ocean Institute
November 22, 2023
Article features research by Lamont collaborators.


Bottled Water Can Contain Hundreds of Thousands of Previously Uncounted Tiny Plastic Bits, Study Finds By Kevin Krajick, January 08, 2024, “Using a new technique, scientists have been able to identify extremely minute plastic fragments in bottled water, 10 times more than previously counted.”

Year in Review: Our Top Stories of 2023 By Columbia Climate School, December 22, 2023, “In case you missed it: Check out this past year’s top stories, videos, research highlights and more.”

Faculty Spotlight: Finding Hope Through Climate Science Research and Education By Olga Rukovets, December 21, 2023, “Mingfang Ting wears many hats at the Columbia Climate School as a scientist, professor and education designer.”

Faculty Spotlight: Why Trees Will Always Have Something to Teach Us By Olivia Colton, December 08, 2023, “Lamont research professor Brendan Buckley helps his students learn to listen to the trees.”

A New 66 Million-Year History of Carbon Dioxide Offers Little Comfort for Today By Kevin Krajick, December 07, 2023, “Scientists have produced a new curve of how atmospheric carbon dioxide affects climate. It makes clear that its effects can be long lasting.”

American Geophysical Union 2023: Key Research From the Columbia Climate School By Kevin Krajick, December 06, 2023, “A guide to notable research to be presented at the world’s largest gathering of earth and space scientists.”

Dredging up New York City’s Glacial Memory By Olga Rukovets, December 06, 2023, “Glaciologist Elizabeth Case spoke to New Yorkers about the role glaciers have played in designing the city’s landscape.”

Alumni Spotlight: When the Student Becomes the Teacher By Olivia Colton, December 01, 2023, “A recent graduate of the Master of Science in Sustainability Science program, Reuben Goh hopes to convey his enthusiasm for the environment to future students.”

2023 Director's Reports

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Report from the Director

I’ll start this letter with some reflections on laryngitis. In case someone hasn’t heard, last week I either didn’t have a voice or sounded like a frog. On Sunday 11/12, after leading the Society of Columbia Graduates on a geology of Central Park field trip. Afterward, I found that my voice was kind of hoarse, but I didn’t stop talking and by Monday late afternoon my voice was totally gone, and it lasted through the week, such that on Friday there was barely enough of a voice to communicate (this led me to postpone both the Town Hall and a Scientific Staff Meeting, if anyone is suspicious that maybe I was avoiding these meetings, speak to someone who came into contact with me last week). But it's given me some things to think about. The most important lesson is that I think I talk too much. And when one has laryngitis, for the sake of healing it’s important to resist the temptation to speak. And writing out questions and answers (I was using pen and paper, or the chat option on Zoom) can be an efficient way to successfully get through a meeting. The most important lesson is that because one is not speaking, it’s an opportunity to get some work done.

It reminded me of a time that I lost my voice, again after leading a field trip, a few years ago when I was teaching 2200 Solid Earth System. I couldn’t give a class lecture, so I arranged for a TA to present it, who did a great job. When the course evaluations came in at the end of the term someone wrote that it’s too bad that the TA hadn’t given all the lectures.

I’m writing this letter approaching a bittersweet Thanksgiving holiday; these are trying times with a lot of tragedy happening out there in the broader world. I would guess that for many of us, even if it’s not touching us directly, it’s impacting friends, colleagues, and family. I’m hoping that on our campus we’ve been able to show appropriate respect for everyone and that nobody is feeling unsafe. If anyone in our community has been mistreated, I again invite them to let me know. In times like this, it seems inappropriate to send out a normal Thanksgiving greeting. For our community, I wish everyone a peaceful holiday.

Lamont News:

Theresa Sawi defended her PhD thesis, “Unsupervised Machine-Learning Applications in Seismology”, with Felix Waldhauser as her main advisor. Theresa will be driving across the country to start a USGS Mendenhall Postdoc at Moffett Field in Mountain View, CA, on January 1. Her research will focus on Earthquake Early Warning and DAS data.

The LDEO Open House made it to a US State Department website. This is cool – Mike Steckler has shared a link that features Abdullah Al-Maruf, a new Visiting Research Scientist, standing beside a Lamont Open House sign on the Bangladesh US embassy website. In the photo, Abdullah was promoting the Dhaka Fulbright Program.


Town Hall: The Town Hall scheduled for November 15, has been postponed to Wednesday, November 29, 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. in the Monell Auditorium

The Lamont/DEES annual reception at AGU will be held on Tuesday, December 12, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at the Marriott Union Square. For anyone who hasn’t attended in the past, it’s known far and wide as the best party at AGU and a great opportunity to see and/or network with Lamont alumni and others.

LDEO Booth at AGU: While you are at AGU, be sure to stop by our exhibit booth #1350. Exhibit Hall hours: Monday 3:00 - 6:00 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Town Hall with President Shafik: This is scheduled for Wednesday, January 31, at 10:00 a.m.

Winter Welcome Back Party: This is a party we are giving for ourselves, post-holiday (first week of classes), on Friday, January 19, 5:30 - 8:30 p.m. Stay tuned for details. There will be a band, music, drinks, and late buses back to the city.

The Graduate Student Committee is excited to share the 2024 DEES Calendar. The calendar features photos from graduate students captured during fieldwork, field trips, and travels. They can be purchased for $15 by filling out this Google Form, emailing Caitlin Dieck Locke, or in person every Friday after the colloquium.

Native American Heritage Month:

For anyone who missed Hannah Sweets’ November 14 message to the LDEO Community, as National Native American Heritage Month, November is a time for reflection and recognition of the treatment of indigenous people in the U.S. Lamont community members are encouraged to explore local history and cultures, particularly focusing on tribes like Munsee Lenape, Canarsie, Mohican, Wappinger, and Schaghticoke in Manhattan and Rockaway counties.

That’s enough for now.





In many major crop regions, workers plant and harvest in spiraling heat and humidityTerra Daily, November 22, 2023, Article on study coauthored by Lamont scientist Mingfang Ting.

Air quality improvement during COVID-19 lockdowns less drastic than previously thoughtABC Good Morning America, November 19, 2023, Jason Smerdon, a climate scientist for Columbia University's Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, told ABC News last month that transportation saw the largest reductions in emissions in 2020, accounting for about 40% of all reductions.

Last 12 Months on Earth Were The Hottest Ever Recorded, Analysis FindsTime Magazine, November 9, 2023, At this point, said Jason Smerdon, a climate scientist at Columbia University, no one should be caught off guard. “It's like being on an escalator and being surprised that you’re going up," he said. ”We know that things are getting warmer, this has been predicted for decades."


COP28: Delegates From the Climate School Share Their Plans and Hopes By Columbia Climate School, November 21, 2023, “Columbia Climate School representatives will be attending the global climate summit in Dubai. Here’s what they hope to achieve.”

In Many Major Crop Regions, Workers Plant and Harvest in Spiraling Heat and Humidity By Kevin Krajick, November 20, 2023, “The ability of farmworkers to cultivate major crops including rice and maize may be compromised if climate trends continue.”

She's on a Mission to Plumb the Secrets of New York's Disappearing Wetlands By Kevin Krajick, November 16, 2023, "Botanist and climate scientist Dorothy Peteet has been in the business digging deep into bogs, marshes and fens for more than 40 years, revealing natural and human histories going back thousands of years, and their role in changing climate. A final frontier: the obscure remains of New York City’s once widespread coastal wetlands."

The Fifth National Climate Assessment: Change Is Here, but There Is Hope By Adrienne Day, November 14, 2023, “The Fifth National Climate Assessment was released today. The message: change is here, but immediate action can avert the worst impacts.

Learning How Trees Can Help Unlock Secrets of Our Climate Future By Olivia Colton and Tyler Zorn, November 10, 2023, “A new cataloging system will help better preserve, track and share thousands of tree ring samples from around the globe.”

In Massive Project, Scientists to Probe Deposits Beneath West Antarctic Ice Sheet By Columbia Climate School, November 8, 2023, “Drilling into sub-ice deposits left behind during times when the Earth was warmer than today should provide insights into how a massive ice sheet will react to human-induced climate change.”

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Report from the Director

One of the things I’ve realized since I moved up the hill to the Directorate is how much my life at Lamont is impacted by the view from my office. Until now, it’s been the woods behind Comer, where I’ve really enjoyed the changing seasons. But we really do live very different lives here, depending on where we are situated. But as I write this from the Directorate, there are 2 eagles gliding around over the cliffs outside the window. I’ve never before felt the need to have my binoculars at hand. And in my 3+ months up here, I’ve seen dramatic changes (it’s that time of the year) from dense green vegetation to fall colors, and now a nearly unobstructed view of the Hudson fjord and the currently past-peak fall colors on the other side. If anyone is around Monell and wants to borrow the binoculars, feel free to knock on my window. 


In case anyone missed it, Roísín Commane was named one of the ten scientists to watch in 2023 by Science News. The scientists included on the list were selected by a committee of Science News writers and editors for their potential to shape the science of the future. It’s a great article that calls her a greenhouse gas sleuth. I did a bit of sleuthing myself and found that Roísín follows Jacky Austermann, who was on the 2022 list.


Have you all seen the New York Times article on the new Heirloom Technologies carbon capture plant? For those who haven’t, it’s the first commercial plant that draws CO2 from the atmosphere. I read the article but hadn’t realized that it’s partly the brainchild of our own Peter Kelemen. Peter is mentioned in an article about the plant in the MIT Technology Review, and in a 2022 article about the process used there in the State of the Planet series.

PhD Defenses:

We had 3 PhD defenses.

Tyler Janoski defended his PhD thesis, “Exploring the timescales and mechanisms of polar amplification”, with Lorenzo Polvani and Michael Previdi as his main advisors. Tyler will be a postdoc position at City College in collaboration with the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory.

 Roger Creel had the biggest audience I’ve ever seen for a thesis defense lecture. The room was filled, and I was among more than 90 virtual attendees. The thesis is “Reconstructing and understanding how past warming affected sea level, ice sheets, and permafrost”, as the first PhD advisee of Jacky Austermann. Roger will start a postdoc in Physical Oceanography at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Sarah Giles defended her PhD thesis, “Mid-Ediacaran phenomena in South Australia and Eastern California”, advised mainly by Nick Christie-Blick. Sarah is teaching Sedimentology and Stratigraphy this semester (I have no doubt it’s a great course because she was a TA for Sidney Hemming and me a few years ago in our Solid Earth System class – we’ve had some great TAs but Sarah is one of the very best). After the semester, Sarah will start a position as a Geoscientist at ExxonMobil.

Congratulations to Drs. Tyler, Roger, and Sarah (also their advisors)!

Speaking of Nick Christie-Blick, Sarah is teaching his course this term and Nick is preparing to retire as a Professor in DEES at the end of the semester. Nick mentioned to me that now that Sarah is finished, he can retire. We’ll say more about him when he really does retire. And we’ll have a catered TGIF in Nick’s honor.

And speaking of retirements, on November 2, CIESIN celebrated its 25th anniversary at Columbia and Bob Chen’s numerous contributions to it, the Climate School, the Earth Institute, and the global data community during his tenure as Director. CIESIN is the Center for International Earth Science Information Network and a Climate School Center located here on the Lamont campus. Bob will retire at the end of the year, which will mark a big change for CIESIN as he was already the Deputy Director when I came to Lamont in 1998 and has been Director since 2006. The event featured presentations in the Monell Auditorium that reflected on its history, celebrated the present, and outlined a vision for CIESIN’s future.

Save the Dates: 

We have a couple of important events coming up.

Lamont is now on President Shafik’s busy schedule. Mark your calendars for Wednesday, January 31, at 10 AM, when we’ll hold a Town Hall with President Shafik as our special guest 

And we’re gonna have a party! Back in the day, every once in a while Lamont gave itself a party. They were a lot of fun, and they had great impacts on the general atmosphere. We’ve decided to pivot from a holiday party (hard to schedule, especially with AGU interfering) to something better – a Winter Welcome Back party, post-holiday (first week of classes), on Friday, January 19, 5:30-8:30 PM. Stay tuned for details. There will be a band, music, drinks, and late buses back to the city.

Join us on Friday, December 1, after colloquium, for a special TG to bid farewell to Richie and his awesome culinary team and express our gratitude for their dedication, creativity, and all the fantastic friendships we've built over delicious meals and memorable events. Richie, Laura, Angela, and Chris are moving on from Lamont at the end of the year.

And speaking of important Lamont-wide events, the annual Fun Run & Chili Cook-Off took place on November 8, and here are the results. The events were organized by the Graduate Student Committee and sponsored by the Campus Life Committee and Lamont Directorate. There were 32 participants in Fun Run, with Fiona Clerc the winner in the women’s division and Benjamin Yang in the men’s division. The Chili Cook-off had a showdown with five chilis, two cornbreads, and six desserts. All were really good, but here are the winners: Meat Chili Masters: A tie for first place between Bennett Slibeck and Benjamin Bostick! Veggie Chili Virtuoso: Hats off to Nicholas Call, who proved that veggies can be as bold and flavorful as their meaty counterparts. Cornbread Commander: The crown for Cornbread went to Casey BraytonDessert Doyen: The sweet victory belongs to Tim Trimble. Other talented chefs included: Sydney Maguire, Jeff Turmelle, Alex de Sherbinin & Stephanie Bazer, Tess Jacobson, Claire Jasper, Caitlin Locke, Kathryn Cheng, Clare Randolph, Celeste Pallone, Christine McCarthy, and Lela Kornfeld.

In case anyone missed the email, the Graduate Student Committee is excited to share the arrival of the 2024 DEES Calendar, designed by Caroline Juang. The calendar features photos from graduate students captured during fieldwork, field trips, and travels. They can be purchased for $15 by filling out this Google Form, emailing Caitlin Dieck Locke, or in person every Friday after the colloquium. 

That’s enough for now. 





Geology Rocks!Columbia College Today, A Central Park Field Trip with Professor Steven L. Goldstein ’76

New York's Metro-North Is an Economic Mudslide Waiting to HappenBloomberg, November 7, 2023, Article quotes Lamont geophysicist Klaus Jacob.

Living in a Neighborhood That Floods, Rain or ShineNew York Times, November 5, 2023, Article quotes Lamont postdoc Nadia Seeteram.

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Scientists - Show #60Tough Times with Lou Young, November 4, 2023, Interviews with Lamont scientists at Open House.

Superstorm Sandy, 11 Years Later: How It Became the Unique System that Ravaged Long Island, RegionNewsday, October 30, 2023, Article references book by Lamont climate scientist Adam Sobel.

A 'Nightmare' Hurricane Developed in a FlashNew York Times, October 26, 2023, Article quotes Lamont postdoc Jonathan Lin.

How El Niño Is Fueling an Intense Pacific Hurricane SeasonSan Francisco Chronicle, October 26, 2023, Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Suzana Camargo.

Hurricane Otis' Explosive Intensification Is a Symptom of the Climate Crisis, Scientists SayCNN, October 25, 2023, Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Suzana Camargo.

Hurricane Otis Stuns Mexico, Slamming Acapulco with ‘Brutal’ Category 5 Strength and Cutting Off Contact LA Times, October 25, 2023, Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Suzana Camargo.

One Million People Will Be Displaced in Miami Due to Climate Gentrification One Green Planet, October 22, 2023, Article features research led by Lamont postdoc Nadia Seeteram.


In Massive Project, Scientists to Probe Deposits Beneath West Antarctic Ice Sheet By Columbia Climate School, November 08, 2023, “Drilling into sub-ice deposits left behind during times when the Earth was warmer than today should provide insights into how a massive ice sheet will react to human-induced climate change”

Climate LIVE K12 Is Back: RSVP for Winter 2023 and Spring 2024 Sessions By Laurel Zaima-Sheehy, November 07, 2023, “In the Climate LIVE video series, experts from across the Columbia Climate School discuss topics in climate and sustainability for grade school and university students, educators, parents and the public.”

Will Events Like Hurricane Otis Become More Common? By Jonathan Lin and Suzana Camargo, November 02, 2023, “Rapidly intensifying hurricanes are hard to predict. Research suggests that climate change may be making them more frequent.”

Communicating Awe: How Three Young Scientists Reach New Audiences By Olga Rukovets, October 24, 2023, “In a panel moderated by journalist Miles O’Brien, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory scientists discussed why creative scientific communication is important.”

The first thought that comes to my mind this time of the year is foliage. In my last letter, I noted that the leaves were starting to change color. As I write this, it’s approaching its peak, and I look forward to watching its progress. At Lamont, it’s particularly beautiful around the swamp between the entrance road and the Machine Shop. I think the fall colors are one of the best aspects of living around here.

Moving on to the human world, we all know that tensions are high throughout the university due to the Israel-Gaza conflict. All signs indicate that things will be happening that will cause these tensions to intensify. I want to reiterate clearly the message in my email to the Lamont campus community earlier this week. Our campus must be a welcoming place for every member of our community, and there will be no tolerance for bad behavior. If anyone experiences disrespect, or is made to feel unsafe on this campus, please feel free to contact me, and I’ll respond appropriately.

Since I sent that message, I’ve received several emails from community members who are experiencing fear or insecurity or are feeling increasingly isolated. This is a difficult time for many as some community members have real concerns about family members and close friends. I want to share here a thought from one of the emails I received – it said knowing that people care is very comforting, and it pointed out that showing empathy towards a colleague does not mean we are "taking a side.” This is also a theme of a message we received from President Shafik this week – she wrote, “I want to thank all those who have shown great compassion, leadership, and kindness in recent days.” I echo that thought here. As one of our colleagues wrote to me, “be compassionate, care about your colleagues and students as fellow humans. Shouldn’t be that hard, I’d hope.”  

Speaking totally for myself (not representing Lamont or Columbia), I want to share an experience from this past week. I was at a local venue where there was a lone performer with a guitar. Some people were paying attention, others let the music be in the background. He caught my attention when he played a song, I don’t think I’ve ever heard played live. It was Bob Dylan’s song from the 1960s, “With God on our Side”. Anyone who knows the song would understand why it gave me goosebumps. I think it’s a brilliant song that’s particularly relevant to this moment in time.

Finally, turning to Lamont … Here’s some important news – don’t refer to the MGG Division anymore, as it doesn’t exist. For the past few weeks, since Columbia accepted a name change, it’s officially now the MPG Division (Marine and Polar Geophysics).

Last Saturday’s Open House was a great success despite the weather! There are clearly many people out there who are interested in learning about science and aren’t going to let a rainy day get in their way. We had 1982 visitors, despite the rain, up 240 from last year when it was sunny and clear. A big shout-out goes to everyone who planned, implemented, and volunteered. As I noted in my thank you letter to the community, as researchers and educators, we have real obligations to the public, as they fund most of the work that we do. Every year, I’m struck by how efficiently Open House works as outreach to engage the public about what we do, and how well it displays the breadth of research done here on the Lamont campus. It made me realize this week while getting ready to submit a proposal to NSF on Friday, that given Open Houses’ broad impact, I think it really deserves more respect than it receives from our reviewer colleagues as a Broader Impact.

Last Friday, October 13, before Open House, we celebrated the career of Arnold L. Gordon, who retired on July 1 and is now an Emeritus Professor in DEES and Special Research Scientist in Ocean and Climate Physics at Lamont. Arnold is also an alumnus and gave the Distinguished Alumni LectureMy Random Walk Career from the Tropical to Polar Oceans and back again sponsored by DEES in collaboration with LDEO and the LDEO Alumni Association. Arnold is indeed one of Lamont’s most distinguished alumni, with a long list of major awards, including AGU’s Maurice Ewing Medal. His work has inspired research across disciplines, and a personal example is Arnold’s work on “ocean gateways.” One of those gateways is southern Africa, where the “Agulhas Leakage” leaks salt and heat leaks into the Atlantic, which impacts the global ocean circulation, and which has been the inspiration for a couple of decades of geochemistry work by Sidney Hemming and me in the southeast Atlantic.

I need to correct something I said in Arnold’s introduction. I noted that he arrived at Lamont as a graduate student in 1961 and has been here ever since and that, as far as I can tell, he is the second longest person who still has an appointment here. When I said the longest one was Lynn Sykes, from the podium, I spied Jim Hayes in the audience and wondered if I had misspoken. So, I asked Jim, and sure enough, Jim even edges out Lynn. Jim was very gracious ever the gentleman, but I’m setting the record straight. Jim is the longest here, followed by Lynn, with Arnold a close third.

And as long as I’m setting records straight, a couple of weeks ago, when I congratulated Park Williams for his 2023 MacArthur “genius” award, I noted that Park is not the first Lamonter to achieve this honor as Terry Plank became a MacArthur Fellow in 2012. I want to note that neither is Terry the first Lamonter to achieve this honor, as Paul Richards became a MacArthur Fellow in 1981.

My last couple of letters listed some events that happened during the summer, and here it’s late October, and I’m still not finished. So, going back to the summer, the GreenDrill project had a major success as it drilled through over 500 meters of the Greenland Ice Sheet in order to collect a section of the rock below. Joerg Schaefer wrote that it’s “a very exciting experiment of the highest relevance for Geoscience and Society. It's a 'classic Lamont flagship', as it is based on new techniques developed here that are directly applied to forefront science problems.” GreenDrill is a 5-year, $7 million collaborative project between Lamont, U of Buffalo, UMass-Amherst, Penn State that and harnesses the resources of the U.S. Ice Drilling Program. The LDEO PIs are Joerg, Nicolás Young, and Gisela Winckler, and the team includes Margie Turrin and postdoc Allie Balter-Kennedy. The project was the subject of a major article in the Washington Post (check it out if you have a subscription). Joerg also writes, “this is an incredible team effort that is under-featured in the WaPo I think. Jason Briner of the Univ of Buffalo really got me into Arctic science in the first place a decade ago, and Nicolás Young is the scientific leader of Arctic geology here in the group.” Joerg also noted that “the 'drilling breakthrough' happened under Allie Balter-Kennedy and Caleb Walcott (PhD student Univ of Buffalo), when all the old people were off the ice already.” Congratulations, Allie and Caleb, it looks like it helped that the old people were gone!

Speaking of large projects, the landing and opening of the OSIRIS-REx Sample Return Capsule has been all over the news in recent weeks. This was the first NASA mission that went to an asteroid (Bennu), landed and collected a sample, and then returned it to Earth. It landed on September 25 after a >4 billion mile, 7-year journey. The return was highlighted in two colloquium talks already this year, by Lindy Elkins-Tanton of Arizona State, who is the PI of the Psyche Mission (launched October 13) that will visit an asteroid but will not return samples, and by Carol Raymond of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, who has been involved in many missions. The Osiris-Rex material will be studied and analyzed in laboratories worldwide, and a flood of data will be generated that will need to be curated and made accessible for the long term. All this data will flow to Lamont. The Geoinformatics Research Group, under the lead of Kerstin Lehnert, has just received a $10 million grant from NASA (collaborative with Bob Downs of CIESIN and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) to operate the Astromaterials Data System as NASA's designated archive of all data generated from samples returned from space by past, present, and future NASA missions as well as meteorites from the ANSMET program. There’s more about this in Lamont's News article "An Archive of the Stars is Born".

In September, Lex van Geen welcomed to Lamont engineers from the Bangladesh government as part of the long-term cooperation on water issues in Bangladesh. They participated in a week-long program that included presentations by Lamonters and others across and outside Columbia concerning well-water arsenic mitigation and responses to climate change. The program included visiting the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project construction site in lower Manhattan. A high point of the visit was the sharing by Bangladesh Department of Public Health and Engineering of a new data set consisting of 6 million georeferenced well tests for arsenic, accompanied by depth information, that will not only help target safe drinking water but provide a unique perspective of the evolution of the Bengal Basin. I met the group and attended a lecture by Klaus Jacob on “Climate Change Adaptation in NYC: Transportation / Subway” outlining issues associated with rising sea levels and extreme weather in New York City. It’s a great lecture, and one that Klaus should present again to the Lamont community.

LDEO Postdoctoral Fellowship Competition: If you know outstanding potential postdocs, here is another reminder that we are accepting applications for the 2024 LDEO Postdoctoral Fellowship in Earth, Environmental, and Climate Sciences. The deadline to apply is November 3, 2023. Details and guidelines are on the program’s websitePlease share this opportunity with colleagues in other institutions.

LDEO’s Annual Chili Cook-Off and Fun Run is scheduled for Wednesday, November 8th (rain date November 15th), organized by the Graduate Students Committee (GSC). Everyone is welcome to participate, spectate, judge, and enjoy the event. 'tiedye-licious t-shirts’ are available for $25 each, and the proceeds will benefit graduate student social events. The Fun Run (2:30-4pm) offers a 5k run or a 1.5km walk around the Lamont campus. You can register for the Fun Run here. The Chili Cook-off (4-6pm) has exciting prizes for the best meat chili, veggie chili, cornbread, and dessert. Sign up here to showcase your culinary talents. Please contact Chris Rowan and Sam Bartusek, Social Chairs, if you're interested and can help at the event.

For those attending AGU: The Lamont/DEES annual reception will be held on Tuesday, December 12, from 6:30-8:30pm at the Marriott Union Square. For anyone who hasn’t attended in the past, it’s known far and wide as the best party at AGU and an excellent opportunity to see and/or network with Lamont alumni and others.

That’s enough for now.






"Impossible" Rocks Have Been Found on The Volcanic Island of Anjouan
IFL Science
October 19, 2023
Article features research by Lamont geochemist Cornelia Class.

The Jet Stream Pattern that Is Driving More Frequent Extreme Winter Cold and Periods of Rain
October 19, 2023
Article features research co-authored by Lamont climate scientist Kai Kornhuber.

Even If They Don't Live in Flood Zones, 4 out of 5 Residents in Miami Will Be Affected
October 19, 2023
Article features research led by Lamont postdoc Nadia Seeteram.

Sea Level Rise Will Affect 4 Out of 5 Miami Residents, Even Those Living Outside of Flood Zones, Study Says
October 19, 2023
Article features research led by Lamont postdoc Nadia Seeteram.

In Miami, Sea Level Rise Threatens Everyone, Even Those Who Don't Live Near the Coast
October 18, 2023
Article features research led by Lamont postdoc Nadia Seeteram.

80% of Miami Residents Will Suffer Impacts from Sea Level Rise
October 18, 2023
Article features research led by Lamont postdoc Nadia Seeteram.

FL - Rising Seas Will Tighten Vise on Miami Even for People who Are Not Flooded, Says Study
Coastal News Today
October 18, 2023
Article features research led by Lamont postdoc Nadia Seeteram.

More than a Million Miami-Dade Residents, Many of Them Poor, Face 'Climate Gentrification'
Daily Kos
October 17, 2023
Article features research led by Lamont postdoc Nadia Seeteram.

‘Climate Gentrification’ Will Displace One Million People in Miami Alone
Scientific American
October 17, 2023
Article features research led by Lamont postdoc Nadia Seeteram.

More than 1M people in Miami Area Face 'Climate Gentrification" — Study
October 17, 2023
Article features research led by Lamont postdoc Nadia Seeteram.

Study Predicts Majority of Miami Residents May Face Displacement Due to Rising Sea Levels
October 17, 2023
Article features research led by Lamont postdoc Nadia Seeteram.

Rising Seas Will Tighten Vise on Miami Even for People Who Are Not Flooded, Says Study
October 16, 2023
Article features research led by Lamont postdoc Nadia Seeteram.

A Columbia Climate Scientist Reviews Autumn in New York
Columbia Magazine
October 16, 2023
Article quotes Lamont tree-ring scientist Mukund Palat Rao.

Columbians Investigate Extreme Weather and Its Effects
Columbia News
October 9, 2023
Features Lamont climate scientist Chia-Ying Lee.

Wave 4: The Jet Stream Pattern that Favors Extreme Rain or Cold Events in the Northern Hemisphere
October 8, 2023
Article features research co-authored by Lamont climate scientist Kai Kornhuber.

Deep Water Ahead - Show #58 - Jacqueline Austermann
Tough Times with Lou Young
October 7, 2023
Interview with Lamont geodynamicist Jacky Austermann.

Frozen in the Fast Lane: Jet Stream Pattern Locks in Extreme Winter Cold Spells
SciTech Daily
October 7, 2023
Article features research co-authored by Lamont climate scientist.


Highlights from 2023's Open House at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory By Adrienne Day, October 19, 2023, “Through interactive exhibits, games, glacier goo, and a few volcanic eruptions, people of all ages learned about geology, earth science, and climate change.”

Rising Seas Will Tighten Vise on Miami Even for People Who Are Not Flooded, Says Study By Kevin Krajick, October 16, 2023, “Most research on rising sea levels focuses on the direct effects of inundation. A new study adds social and economic vulnerabilities to the equation.”

As I write this we’re just barely into October, and the leaves around southern Rockland and northern Bergen are just barely starting to turn. Earlier this week Columbia had a big party to celebrate the beginning of a new era with a new President, Dr. Minouche Shafik, who even mentioned Wally Broecker in her speech. If I were superstitious, I would consider it a good omen that it was such a beautiful day, especially given the terrible weather over the last couple of weeks. With Open House happening next Saturday, October 14, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that we have good weather, a great crowd, and afterward an enjoyable barbecue for the volunteers.

Speaking of the recent terrible weather that reached its peak with the rain and flooding last Friday, it was great to see so many attendees despite the downpour at the awesome colloquium by Dr. Carol Raymond of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Exploring Ocean Worlds in the Outer Solar System. As many of us know, Carol is a Lamonter. As it turns out, she (along with many other now famous geoscientists) and I overlapped as graduate students here – graduate students take note – you’ll be amazed when you look back at your cohort in a couple of decades. Carol shared with me that back in the day, she and Robin Bell together spent a year as the organizers of the Lamont Colloquium.

And speaking of colloquium and outer space, in my last letter I forgot to mention that this year’s colloquium series got off to a great start on September 8 with our annual W.S. Jardetzky Lecture by Professor Lindy Elkins-Tanton of Arizona State on Volcanoes and the Great Dying: The End-Permian Extinction and its Parallels with Today. Lindy mentioned that it might have been the last time she would give that lecture with the launch of NASA’s Psyche Mission, scheduled for next Thursday, October 12, where she is the Principal Investigator. Psyche is an asteroid that represents the early formed core of a planetesimal.

The Jardetzky Lecture turned out to be a great way to welcome our 19 new PhD students to Lamont. I think we’ll turn this into a tradition. I guess they realize by now that not every colloquium comes with a buffet.

During the last report, I used up my space on some awards received by Lamonters over the last few months. It will take me a while to get through the news that’s piled up. Here is some of it.

I’ll start with promotionsFrank Nitsche was promoted to Senior Research Scientist; Christine McCarthy was promoted to Lamont Associate Research Professor (senior staff); Jonny Kingslake achieved university tenure. Congratulations retroactive to July 1 go to all of them!

Moving to honors, Gisela Winckler, Associate Director of the Geochemistry Division, is the inaugural climate-scientist-in-residence at the Journalism School for this semester. The announcement came during Climate Week NYC, the Columbia Climate School as the official university partner. Congratulations, Gisela, it sounds like a lot of fun, and your mentorship will be a big benefit to the journalism students. 

Continuing with honors, in July a symposium in honor of Bob Anderson was held at Lamont. Jerry McManus sent the following words about it: “Colleagues from across the Observatory and around the world gathered on July 24-25 to celebrate the illustrious career of Bob Anderson, Ewing-Lamont Research Professor in the Geochemistry Division at Lamont. Over the course of two days, presentations in Monell detailed the remarkable breadth and influence of Bob's geochemical explorations, his brilliance as a mentor and educator, and his inspiring and generous leadership of the GEOTRACES program and other collaborative research. Open microphone opportunities each day allowed participants to share stories expressing their heartfelt appreciation for all Bob has given them as individuals and the community at large. The symposium was a welcome and successful opportunity to celebrate Bob as someone who has contributed so much to the scientific leadership and dynamic environment that make Lamont such a special place.”

Bob has positively impacted so many of us as a colleague, teacher, and friend. As a scientist, he is truly up there with Lamont’s all-time greats. And on top of that, Bob is a great human being.

In terms of awards, the big one this past week for us is that Park Williams, who only recently left LDEO to be a professor in the Dept of Geography at UCLA and is still an Adjunct Research Scientist at Lamont, is the recipient of a 2023 MacArthur “genius award, for “uncovering new insights into how climate change influences drought, wildfires, and tree mortality.” Park is not the first Lamonter to achieve this honor as Terry Plank became a MacArthur Fellow in 2012.

Continuing with awards, a long-time member of Lamont’s greater global community, Denis-Didier Rousseau, Adjunct Senior Research Scientist, received the Liu Tungsheng Distinguished Career Medal from the International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA). The medal, which is given every 4 years at the INQUA Congress, this year during the brutal heat wave in Rome, recognizes “outstanding service to the international community in Quaternary science.” As an example of service, Denis for many years oversaw the scheduling of AGU Meetings.

And there is another award! Graduate Student Sarah Smith is the 2023 recipient of the Edward Prince Goldman Scholarship in Science from The New York Community Trust. Sarah is recognized for her intellectual independence and innovative work on arctic aerosols, her valuable contributions as a Teaching Assistant, her outstanding academic performance, and her active engagement in organizing department and community-based activities and events. Wow! Congratulations Sarah!

Remembrance: Manik Talwani, the LDEO Director between 1973-1981, passed away on March 22, 2023. The Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences at Rice University will hold a memorial for him this Sunday, October 8 at 3:00 p.m. in the Rice Memorial Chapel on Rice University's campus. Manik’s career spanned more than 60 years, during which time he made foundational discoveries that contributed to the theory of plate tectonics, while also developing novel geophysical techniques that enabled detailed imaging of subsurface geologic structures using gravity and seismic methods. He completed his PhD in geophysics at Lamont in 1959, under Maurice Ewing. He stayed on at Lamont as a research scientist and joined the Columbia Geology faculty in 1967. He joined Rice in 1985 as the Schlumberger Professor of Geophysics. Manik served from 2004 to 2009 as the inaugural President and CEO of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP). More information about the memorial and his career can be found at

Talwani was the Lamont Director when I began as a graduate student. Years later in the late 1990s or early 2000s, I met him at a workshop. When he saw that I was from Lamont he came up to me and we had a great conversation about Lamont. He was very friendly and showed real interest in finding out how things had been going since he left.

Save the dates:

Open House, as mentioned above, will take place on Saturday, October 14, from 10-4 p.m. Please share the flyer with family, friends, and strangers. Print them out and place them everywhere. There will be regular shuttles from Morningside throughout the day. Also, we need volunteers, so if you are not already working in an exhibit tent or lab, please consider doing so. Volunteer assignments vary, so please get in touch with Marian Mellin for more details. This year, we are also seeking musicians! If you play a musical instrument, sing, or are part of a band, we would love to showcase your talent at Open House. All volunteers are invited to the after-party at 4:30 p.m. Special shuttle buses will take people back to Morningside after the party.

And the Distinguished Alumni Lecture this year will be by Arnold L. Gordon during colloquium next Friday, October 13 at 3:30 p.m.. Arnold just retired this summer and is now Emeritus Professor in DEES and Special Research Scientist at LDEO. The Distinguished Alumni Lecture is hosted by DEES in collaboration with LDEO and the LDEO Alumni Association. As always, Arnold’s lecture promises to be interesting, and his title is “My Random Walk Career from the Tropical to Polar Oceans and Back Again”. For anyone who wants a preview, the talk is based on his 2022 article, “How did I get from There to Here?” in AGU Perspectives of Earth and Space Scientists, doi:10.1029/2022CN000159. Last year the lecture was given by Dr. Mike Coffin, who began his PhD at LDEO the same year as me. That year also included John Flynn of AMNH, Alan Mix of Oregon State, and Lisa Tauxe of Scripps.

LDEO Postdoctoral Fellowship Competition: The deadline to apply is November 3, 2023. If you know great potential postdocs, we are now accepting applications for the 2024 LDEO Postdoctoral Fellowship in Earth, Environmental, and Climate Sciences. Details and guidelines are on the program’s websitePlease share this opportunity with colleagues in other institutions.

For those attending AGU: The Lamont/DEES annual reception will be held on Tuesday, December 12 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Marriott Union Square. For anyone who hasn’t attended in the past, it’s known far and wide as the best party at AGU and a great opportunity to see and/or network with Lamont alumni and others.

That’s more than enough for now. Here’s to a great weekend.




Cities Worldwide Keep Building in Flood Zones, Despite Mounting Risks
October 6, 2023
Article quotes Lamont postdoc Mona Hemmati.

Study Identifies Jet-Stream Pattern that Locks in Extreme Winter Cold, Wet Spells
Science Daily
October 5, 2023
Article features research co-authored by Lamont climate scientist Kai Kornhuber.

This Is Also Part of Climate Change
National Geographic (Hungarian Edition) 
October 5, 2023
Article features research co-authored by Lamont climate scientist Kai Kornhuber.

Atmospheric Waves Intensify Cold Spells in the Northern Hemisphere
Europa Press 
October 5, 2023
Article features research co-authored by Lamont climate scientist Kai Kornhuber.

Study Finds More People Are Moving into High Flood Zones, Increasing Risk of Water Disasters
AP News
October 4, 2023
Article quotes Lamont geophysicist Klaus Jacob.

Geology Rocks! A Central Park Field Trip with Professor Steven L. Goldstein ’76
Columbia College Today
October 3, 2023
Article features Lamont geochemist and interim dean Steven L. Goldstein.

The Tension in Climate Science Between Mitigation and Adaptation
October 3, 2023
Opinion piece by Lamont climate scientist Adam Sobel.

Science Showcase: Columbia Open House Offers Hands-on Lessons about How Earth Works
Rockland/Westchester Journal News
October 3, 2023
Article features Lamont Open House.

Seaweed Is Mucking up Beaches. This Robot Could Stop It — and Fight Climate Change
October 2, 2023
Article quotes Lamont oceanographer Ajit Subramaniam.

State Comptroller Report Faults MTA for Lack of Climate Change Plans
The City
October 2, 2023
Article quotes Lamont geophysicist Klaus Jacob.

Climate Change? Volcanos? Here's Your Chance to Ask Renowned Scientists
Hudson Valley News
October 2, 2023
Article features Lamont Open House.

Saluting Marie Tharp, the Trailblazing Scientist Whose Maps Shook the World
Columbia Magazine
October 1, 2023
Article features pioneering Lamont geologist Marie Tharp.

New York City Works to Dry Out After Severe Flooding: "Outside Was Like a Lake"
CBS News
September 30, 2023
Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Adam Sobel.

Climate Change and NYC: Historic Rains Buckle City's Infrastructure, Again
NBC News
September 29, 2023
Article quotes Lamont postdoc Mona Hemmati.

New York City Area Gets One of Its Wettest Days in Decades, as Rain Swamps Subways and Streets
AP News
September 29, 2023
Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Adam Sobel.

How Climate Change Disrupts Fall Foliage
National Geographic
September 29, 2023
Article quotes Lamont climate scientists Mukund Palat Rao and Benjamin Cook.

The "New Abnormal": The Rise of Extreme Flooding, Briefly Explained
September 29, 2023
Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Richard Seager.

How Seeding the Oceans with Minerals Could Help Slow Climate Change
Japan Times
September 29, 2023
Article quotes Lamont geologist Peter Kelemen.

Journalism School Announces First Climate-Scientist-in-Residence Gisela Winckler
Columbia Spectator
September 27, 2023
Article features Lamont climate scientist Gisela Winckler.

El Niño Is Creating Fear and Mystery This Year: Weather Watch
September 27, 2023
Article quotes Lamont paleoclimatologist Braddock Linsley.

Scientists and Community Leaders Seek to Clear the Air in the South Bronx
Columbia Mailman Environmental Health Sciences News
September 23, 2023
Article quotes Lamont geochemist Steven Chillrud.

As Part of Climate Week 2023, Columbia Journalism School Announces Climate Scientist in Residence
Columbia Journalism School
September 22, 2023
Article features Lamont climate scientist Gisela Winckler.

Opinion: Why We're Seeing So Many Deadly Floods
September 21, 2023
Opinion piece by Lamont climate scientist Adam Sobel.

Our Vocabulary Is Adapting to a Hotter Planet
September 21, 2023
Article cites the work of late pioneering Lamont geochemist Wally Broecker. 


Study Identifies Jet-Stream Pattern That Locks in Extreme Winter Cold, Wet Spells By Kevin Krajick, October 04, 2023, Recently, scientists connected giant waves in the global jet stream to hot, dry spells gripping widely separated parts of the planet at the same time. Now they have done the same for winter weather.

An Archive of the Stars Is Born By Kevin Krajick, October 02, 2023, “NASA has designated a group at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory with preserving and making easily accessible data from all the extraterrestrial material curated by the agency.”

Study Reveals Long-Distance Levers Behind U.S. Southwest Drought—and a Dry Future By Kevin Krajick, September 26, 2023, “The U.S. Southwest has suffered a historic drought over the past two decades. A new study elucidates the drivers, and says conditions will never return to those of the relatively wet 20th century.”

Dear Lamont Community,

At this point, I’ve been Interim Director since August 1, and while those of us who have been here a while know that August is quiet at Columbia, we’re now through the third week of the Fall semester, so it’s about time to send a letter to the community. As we all know, a lot has been going on at LDEO over the past 1 ½ months, but I think (I should clarify that I “hope”) that we’ve settled down to some kind of steady state. 

Given that we’re already 3 weeks into the semester, I’d like to take this opportunity to belatedly welcome all the new members of the community who arrived during the summer, and especially the new students.

In this first letter, I’ll speak about some important aspects of my decision to serve. The LDEO Associate Directors deserve a lot of credit during the transition. They were determined to avoid a standstill during the Interim Directorship and requested a 2-year appointment, in order that the person has enough time to be a real leader and have a positive impact. Jeff Shaman, the new Interim Dean of the Climate School agreed that this is a sensible plan. My additional condition for serving was to have essentially the same mandate as a “permanent” Director, that is, I was not willing to act as a caretaker. It all means that my expectation (for better or worse) is to serve for 2 years with the intent for LDEO to continue to progress as one of the great global geoscience research institutions.

I also want everyone to know that I plan to meet with the different cohorts within LDEO. I made that effort as Director of the Division of Earth Sciences at NSF not too long ago, and the results were very positive. I’m hoping to cover everyone, and I’ll likely see many of you in multiple cohorts. I’m prioritizing early career folk, and for example, next week I’ll be meeting the postdocs. So, expect to see invitations. If you belong to a cohort that does not receive an invitation over the next couple of months, let us know. The purpose is to find out what everyone is thinking about in terms of what we need to do to make our research more efficient, and how to improve our quality of life here. Essentially, we want to know both what’s good and needs preserving, and more importantly what needs fixing. 

Summer is the time of changing of the guard at the university, and this year there’s a long list that impacts us, including the President, Provost, Climate School Dean, DEES Chair, LDEO Director, and the Director of IRI. It’s good news that President Shafik has shown real interest and has already visited, Interim Provost Dennis Mitchell had a Provost Office retreat here during the summer, and Interim Dean Jeff Shaman has been engaging with our community intensely over the last month. I’ll take this opportunity to welcome the new IRI Director, Professor Jessica Fanzo, who is a Professor of Climate and the Director of the Food for Humanity Initiative at the Climate School. 

Speaking of the Climate School, the important news is that a governance plan and a strategic plan will be generated, to be submitted to President Shafik by the end of this calendar year. In parallel, there is a search happening for the next Dean. It goes without saying that the results of all these tasks will be of interest to all of us at LDEO.

As usual over the summer, there has been a lot of news concerning both LDEO and Lamonters. Miriam Cinquegrana in the Directorate collected a long list. I’ll list them in a few letters to the community. This week we’ll concentrate on awards and recognition.

Congratulations go to Marc Spiegelman, a member of both DEES/LDEO and the APAM, who received the 2022 Great Teacher Award from the Society of Columbia Graduates in June. His name will be enshrined forever in the main reading room in Butler Library, on a list of awardees that represents a deep dive into Columbia history, starting with Mark van Doren in 1949, and including Moses Hadas, Lionel Trilling, Ernest Nagel, Fritz Stern, Eric Foner, Jacques Barzun, Christia Mercer, Julie Crawford, Patricia Kitcher, among others. Among all Columbia faculty, there are only two awardees a year, representing Columbia College and SEAS. While Marc got the SEAS award, I think DEES/LDEO should claim our share of the credit.

Last week the American Geophysical Union awards were announced, and LDEO can be proud.

Suzana Camargo and Adam Sobel were elected AGU Fellows, recognized for “exceptional contributions to Earth and space science through a breakthrough, discovery, or innovation in their field”. Suzana received it “for outstanding contributions that have advanced our understanding of tropical cyclones and their relation to climate variability and change” and Adam received it “for outstanding contributions to the understanding of tropical meteorology and climate”. I served on the Union Fellows Committee for 5 years, so I’m a witness that it’s really a tough competition. Only 0.1% of the membership is elected each year, and being among the few who make it through is a great honor.

In addition, Michela Biasutti has been chosen to give the Jule Gregory Charney Lecture of AGU’s Atmospheric Sciences Section, given each year by a “prominent scientist who has made exceptional contributions to the understanding of weather and climate.”

And speaking of Jule Charney awards, earlier this summer Richard Seager received the Jule Charney Medal of the American Meteorological Society, given in recognition of “highly significant research or development achievement in the atmospheric or hydrologic sciences”. Richard received it for “significant and innovative contributions in the attribution of past droughts and floods, and to understanding the impact of rising greenhouse gases on future hydroclimate.”

Besides these AGU and AMS awards, the OCP Division has managed a trifecta, with Columbia coming in as #1 in “Best Global Universities in Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences in the US” by the latest US News and World Report rankings.

Also, this past summer, Nick Christie-Blick received the Laurence L. Sloss Award of the Geological Society of America’s Sedimentary Geology Division. It’s given annually “to a sedimentary geologist whose lifetime achievements best exemplify those of Larry Sloss — i.e., achievements that contribute widely to the field of sedimentary geology and through service to GSA”. In fact, Nick’s award closely follows another Lamonter, Sidney Hemming, who received it in 2021.  

And I just learned this morning that Rasheed Ajala is one of 10 recipients at Columbia of the Postdoctoral Excellence Award, given by the National Postdoctoral Association. Rasheed is in SGT working with Fola Kolawole. The award is given in association with National Postdoc Appreciation Week, which is this past week. As postdocs drive much of our research and represent the future of our discipline, I suggest that it’s a good time for everyone to show their appreciation to our postdocs!

Congratulations to Marc, Suzana, Adam, Michela, Richard, Nick, and Rasheed!

If there are other recognitions over the summer, please let us know.

That’s enough for now, to be continued.

Wishing everyone a great weekend,




You Have Climate Change to Thank for This Year's Scorching NYC SummerGothamist,September 18, 2023, “It's really surprising to feel such intense temperatures after the peak of summer, and that makes them all the more likely to be enhanced by climate change,” said Samuel Bartusek, a doctoral candidate at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Luck or Geography? WFLA-Columbia Project Explores Why It’s Rare for Major Hurricanes to Directly Hit Tampa BayWFLA, September 14, 2023, Article features Lamont climate scientists Chia-Ying Lee and Suzana Camargo.

New Drone Technology Could Make It Easier to Clear Unexploded Bombs, Mines in UkrainePBS NewsHour, September 14, 2023, Segment features work by Lamont PhD student Jasper Baur (at 4:36).

Costly Mars Sample Return Is Squeezing Smaller NASA MissionsScience, September 14, 2023, NASA has been using its smaller missions as “piggy banks” for problems with larger projects, says Sean Solomon, retired director of Columbia University’s Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory.

The Ground Is Collapsing Under Canarsie Homes and Nobody Is Sure How Many Are AffectedThe City, September 11, 2023, Klaus Jacob, a Columbia University geophysicist, surmised that a high-water table may play a role in structural damage to ground floors. Groundwater is expected to rise with sea levels, which will rise between seven inches and just over 2.5 feet in under 30 years.

Saluting Marie Tharp, the Trailblazing Scientist Whose Maps Shook the WorldColumbia Magazine , Sep 11, 2023, Profile of the Lamont scientist. “The Columbia cartographer’s discovery of undersea rift valleys helped seal the theory of continental drift.”

Why You Should Consider a Building's Climate Disaster Risk When Buying in NYCBrick Underground, September 5, 2023, Home buyers, however, should think about climate change impact when it comes to where they invest, says Mona Hemmati, a postdoctoral research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.

What Do Climate Scientists Tell Their Kids about the Future?Scientific American, September 5, 2023, Article quotes Lamont geodynamicist Jacky Austermann.

Buried Under the IceWashington Post, August 25, 2023, Joerg Schaefer, a climate geochemist at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory and the lead investigator for the drilling project I wrote about, called the Greenland ice sheet “the sickest patient in the climate system.”. “You can read these records almost like a history book,” said Allie Balter-Kennedy, a glacial geologist at Lamont Doherty and another member of the GreenDrill team.

The Secrets of Black Rock ForestColumbia Magazine, August 23, 2023, Interview with plant physiologist Kevin Griffin.

Oxygen City in Ghana: A Collaborative Approach to Making the Volta a Breathable CityNews Ghana, August 19, 2023, Article cites research by Lamont climate scientist Dan Westervelt.

Climate Control: U.S. Will Invest $1.2B in Direct Air Capture, August 13, 2023, Article quotes Lamont postdoc Claire Nelson. 

Energy Department Announces Largest-Ever Investment in 'Carbon Removal'Yahoo News, August 11, 2023, Article quotes Lamont postdoc Claire Nelson.

Plants Find It Harder to Absorb Carbon Dioxide Amid Global WarmingNew Scientist, August 10, 2023, Article quotes Lamont plant physiologist Kevin Griffin.

The Pacific Ocean 'Cold Tongue' MysteryMSNBC Morning Joe, August 9, 2023, While most of the ocean's surface has warmed in recent decades due to climate change, some spots have cooled. Climate scientist Dr. Radley Horton discusses the Pacific Ocean 'Cold Tongue' mystery.

Alaska Floods Become Latest Climate Symbol in Disaster-Filled SummerThe Hill, August 8, 2023, Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Marco Tedesco.

Swaths of the US Are Living Through a Brutal Summer. It's a Climate Wake-up Call for ManyOmaha World-Herald, August 7, 2023, Radley Horton, a scientist who studies ocean and climate physics at Columbia University, said there are a few additional "ingredients" that can converge to create a heat wave. Drier conditions, for example, mean more of the sun's energy can go toward heating the air rather than evaporating water from plants and the soil. The time of year can also play a role: At latitudes farther from the equator, the Earth's tilt can lead to summer days with 15 hours or more of sunlight — a long time for heat to build up.

The Jet Stream Is Weakening. Here’s Why That’s a Warning for CaliforniaSan Francisco Chronicle, August 3, 2023, “A jet stream that is very wavy is basically the signature of a Rossby wave being present,” said Kai Kornhuber, a climate scientist at Climate Analytics and Columbia University.

'Cold Tongue': What the Pacific Ocean Cool Patch Mystery Says about Climate ChangeThe Week, August 2, 2023, Scientists are not entirely certain what is keeping the “cold tongue” cool. But Richard Seager, from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, said one factor appears to be trade winds in the region, which carry warm water away from the surface stimulating cooler water to rise.

We're Not Reducing Emissions Fast Enough, Says ProfessorCNBC, August 2, 2023, Radley Horton of Columbia University Climate School discusses extreme weather conditions and says, “we do need some big technology advances to help us out, given the scope of the challenge.” 

A Look at How Much Less Antarctic Sea Ice There Is This YearNew York Times, August 2, 2023, It’s winter in Antarctica, when sea ice cover typically grows. But this year’s sea ice is way behind, reaching record lows with implications for the planet. […] The sharp drop in sea ice is alarming scientists and raising concerns about its vital role in regulating ocean and air temperatures, circulating ocean water and maintaining an ecosystem crucial for everything from microscopic plankton to the continent’s iconic penguins. […] Even when Antarctic Sea ice reaches its maximum extent around September, it could remain at a record low for that time of year, said Xiaojun Yuan, a research scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, who maintains a seasonal forecast of Antarctic Sea ice. Dr. Yuan’s forecast shows less sea ice than usual around most of Antarctica at least through early 2024.


Tackling Severe Air Pollution in Africa By Marie DeNoia Aronsohnm September 20, 2023, “An atmospheric scientist has been working to measure and mitigate a longtime health crisis afflicting much of the continent.”

The Cyclones She Experienced as a Child Led to a Career in Hurricane Risk By Christopher D. Shea,m September 19, 2023, “Atmospheric physicist Chia-Ying Lee is working to improve our understanding of how tropical cyclones will evolve in the future.”

Columbia Climate School Postdoctoral Research Program Now Accepting Applications for 2024 By Gabriella Cohen, September 15, 2023, “Doctoral candidates or recent Ph.D., M.D., J.D. or Sc.D. recipients interested in research on sustainable development can apply by November 1.”

Five Columbia Climate Researchers Honored by Leading Scientific Organizations By Kevin Krajick, September 15, 2023, “Scientists connected to the Climate School received notable accolades from the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society.”

With Drones, Geophysics and ArtificiaI Intelligence, Researchers Prepare to Do Battle Against Land Mines By Kevin Krajick, September 12, 2023, “Finding land mines, the old-fashioned way—on foot, with a metal detector—is agonizingly slow and dangerous. Scientists are working to make the process faster and safer.”

How Ecology Could Inspire Better Artificial Intelligence, and Vice Versa By Sarah Fecht, September 11, 2023, “Two complex fields of human endeavor may have a lot to learn from each other.”

Why Care about the Polar Regions? These Polar Climate Ambassadors Will Tell You! By Margie Turrin, August 30, 2023, “The polar regions are a critical aspect of the climate crisis, but polar science is not always accessible, especially to young students. Our Polar Climate Ambassadors seek to help close this gap in public knowledge.”

Plankton Are Central to Life on Earth. How Is Climate Change Affecting Them? By Renee Cho, August 23, 2023, “Plankton play many important roles on the planet. How will climate change affect them, and is it already happening?”

A Summer of Science Saturdays: Casting a Wide Net at Lamont By Marie DeNoia Aronsohn, August 23, 2023, “Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory’s community education program draws in students of all ages to learn about the Hudson River.”

Gowanus Canal Visit Offers an Educational Opportunity to Environmental Science and Policy Students By Carrie Fernandes, Sylvia Gan, and Tal Henig-Hadar, August 4, 2023 , “Summer term students took a field trip to learn about the complex environmental, community, and legislative issues at play in this historic Brooklyn neighborhood.”

New Study Pins Time of Greenland's Last Melting to Some 400,000 Years Ago By Columbia Climate School, July 20, 2023, “A study adds evidence that the Greenland Ice Sheet will be vulnerable to human-induced climate change in coming centuries.”

Research Links Climate Change to Lazier Jet Stream, Leading to Extreme Weather By Columbia Climate School, July 14, 2023, “A new study links climate change to increasing stalling of the jet stream, but also highlights uncertainties in climate models.”

Hello Friends,

This will be my last newsletter as Director of LDEO.  For anyone who hasn’t yet heard, I announced to the Lamont community last month that I would be stepping down as Director and Co-founding Dean of the Climate School as of today, June 30th.  Being Lamont’s Director over the last three years has been one of the greatest honors of my career. The trust that our community and the University placed in me to guide LDEO through difficult times was deeply appreciated.

I took on this role during the peak of the pandemic, with LDEO running a significant deficit. Three years later, I am proud to say LDEO is no longer running a deficit, major campus repair projects are finished or underway in almost every building on campus, and LRP use of bridge funding is at its lowest level in a decade. We've added eight new LRPs, most of them junior, and have a wonderful (mostly new) senior administrative team in place to maintain that progress, including Angel Cherpanath, our Director of Finance and Administration, Dean Pearce, our Director of Capital Planning & Facilities Strategy, and of course Mahdad Parsi, our Director of Research Computing and Infrastructure, all leading the way.  I am proud to hand the Observatory and campus to its next leader, with it ready to grow and continue to thrive in its long-standing partnership with the Dept. of Earth and Environmental Sciences in the School of Arts and Sciences as well as IRI and CIESIN.

More than anything else, my greatest satisfaction with this job was that it created the opportunity for me to better get to know so many of you, the scientists and students doing incredible research, but also Lamont’s administrative, IT, development, and facilities staff that keep the train on the tracks every day. I look forward to returning to my office in Geoscience, reuniting with my research group, and having more time in the days and weeks ahead to spend with my family, including my parents and new grandchild.

The last few weeks have been busy for me, both with a research field expedition to Hawaii, my daughter getting married in Norway (where I am now), and ensuring a smooth transition in leadership at CU.  However, I would like to give a shout-out and congratulate the graduate students that have successfully defended their Ph.D. over the last month. 

This group includes Yujia You, who defended her Ph.D. thesis on "Extreme Precipitation over the Asian Summer Monsoon Region – A Process-Oriented Perspective and Responses to Anthropogenic Forcings." Yujia will start a postdoctoral position at GFDL/Princeton University in August.  Also, in OCP, Arianna Varuolo-Clarke defended her thesis on “The mystery behind multidecadal precipitation trends in Southeastern South America.”  Everybody loves a good mystery!  Arianna will be a NOAA Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellow working at the University of Colorado, Boulder, with Jennifer Kay investigating drivers of midlatitude precipitation change in a warming world. After that in July 2025, she will start her appointment as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at Dartmouth College.  On June 23, Christopher Carchedi defended his thesis on “Environmental and Tectonic Systems in Africa and South Asia Constrained by Seismic Noise, Surface Waves, and Scattering.” Christopher will start a postdoctoral fellowship at the Carnegie Institute for Science this fall, where he will be studying Colombian tectonics using seismic imaging.  Lastly, congratulations to Suki Wong for successfully defending her Ph.D. thesis on Mechanisms of Variability of Air-Sea Fluxes of Carbon Dioxide from a Coastal Zone to the Open Ocean.”  Suki will remain at LDEO as a short-term PDRS, working with Galen McKinley and Richard Seager on decadal variations of air-sea CO2 fluxes over the tropical Pacific and Southern Oceans.

This is a busy time of year for dissertation defenses.  If I missed anyone, please let Miriam in the Directorate know, and we can make sure the interim Director gets that information for the next newsletter.

Finally, congratulations to Nicholas Christie-Blick, Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Seismology, Geology, and Tectonophysics Division, on receiving the 2023 Geological Society of America's Laurence L. Sloss Award for "lifetime achievements that contribute widely to the field of sedimentary geology, and service to the Geological Society of America."  Nick, this award is a fitting coda to a distinguished teaching and research career at Columbia University!

Wishing you all a lovely peaceful summer – best, Mo



 Does Chicago Have the Worst Air Quality?WGN radio, June 27, 2023, Spot interview with Lamont scientist Dan Westervelt

Texas is dealing with a record-breaking heat wave. Climate experts aren't surprisedNPR, June 27, 2023, Kai Kornhuber is a climate scientist with Columbia University and Climate Analytics, an extreme weather research group. He says the Texas heat wave, where records have been shattered for days in a row, shouldn't be surprising. When temperatures rise due to burning fossil fuels, it pushes heat waves into a new category.

Global heat waves show climate change and El Niño are a bad combo, NPR, June 27, 2023, "They are getting hotter," says Kai Kornhuber, adjunct scientist at Columbia University and scientist at Climate Analytics, a climate think tank. "They are occurring at a higher frequency, so that also increases the likelihood of sequential heat waves."

Don’t worry pizza-heads, NYC is not coming for your pies, CNN, June 27, 2023, People who spend a lot of time around these types of emissions are at higher risk, noted Garima Raheja, a PhD candidate at Columbia University who studies the impacts of urban air pollution on public health. “The average New Yorker … is not breathing this in every day,” she said. But “this is affecting the people who are working in the pizza restaurants and people who are living around them, and the customers who are in close proximity to them.”

How Climate Conditions Propelled Genghis Khan’s Mongol Empire to Great HeightsMedium, June 22, 2023, According to a recent study by an interdisciplinary team of scientists led by Neil Pederson of Columbia University, the Mongols had tremendous support from nature in their success.

Himalaya Glacier Loss Speeding Up, Report FindsNew York Times, June 20, 2023, “Technically speaking, I think it’s amazing,” said Marco Tedesco, a professor of marine geology at Columbia University who was not involved in the research. Dr. Tedesco also praised the new report’s focus on the societal and ecological implications of fast-melting glaciers.

Researchers Say Humans May Be To Blame For The Sinking Of Coastal Cities WorldwideNews on 6, Jun 15, 2023, “The main takeaway here should be this is yet another factor that's leading to increased risk of impact from climate extremes and climate change,” says Andrew Kruczkiewicz, a researcher at Columbia University Climate School.

Tackling pervasive sexism in Australian science requires money, leadership and timeNature, June 12, 2023, By Lamont scientist Robin Bell.

Indonesia's Anak Krakatau volcano spews ash, lava in new eruptionAssociated Press, June 10, 2023 – syndicated, "For a while, it was a field where only fools worked," Chris Scholtz, a geologist and professor emeritus of earth and environmental science at Columbia Climate School, told Insider. 

The moon's pull is so strong it may trigger earthquakes on Earth. Scientists are still baffled by its power.Business Insider, June 10, 2023, "For a while, it was a field where only fools worked," Chris Scholtz, a geologist and professor emeritus of earth and environmental science at Columbia Climate School, told Insider. But with the advent of bigger and more comprehensive datasets over the past 20 years, the influence of the moon has started to emerge from the data. And it seems that in some cases, the moon did help trigger earthquakes around the world. "With these huge datasets, they started to get some small but significant correlation," Scholtz said, adding: "Now it's credible," he said.

The following 24 articles are related to the Canadian Wildfires.

Wildfire smoke is in our homes. Here's how to clear out toxic particlesCBC (Canada), June 9, 2023, "On average, whatever the air pollution level outside is — inside is probably about half that," explains Dan Westervelt, associate research professor at Columbia University's Climate School. "And so when you're talking about the kind of levels that we've been seeing in the Mid-Atlantic U.S., half of that is still pretty dangerous."

Many provinces experiencing highest emissions since 2003: Scientist monitoring Canadian wildfiresDown to Earth (India), June 9, 2023, We are all advised to stay indoors as much as possible and wear N95 masks outdoors. What makes this event difficult is that many New Yorkers live and work in older buildings that have poor air circulation, which makes it hard to avoid the smoke completely,” Caroline S. Juang, Ph.D. Candidate, at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Columbia University, told DTE.

Canadian wildfires burning more intensely during the early fire seasonFox Weather, June 9, 2023, Interview with Lamont scientist Róisín Commane.

NYC health advisory in effect but air quality improving: The latest data, maps and chartsGothamist, June 9, 2023, Róisín Commane, an assistant professor of earth and environmental science at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, cautioned that the monitor readings can be unreliable at very high pollutant concentrations.

Special Report: Canadian Wildfires Cause Nyc Air Quality To Be ‘Hazardous’, June 8, 2022, Special Report on the Code Red air quality alert issued in New York City due to hazardous smoke engulfing the Tri-State region. Dan Westervelt, an air pollution scientist and assistant research professor at the Columbia Climate School’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, joins us to explain the threat.

Air Quality NYC: Hazardous conditions continue due to smoke from Canada wildfires; when will things improve?WABC , June 8, 2023, Interview with Lamont scientist Radley Horton

Amid Air Quality Crisis, Officials Urge People Indoors. What About Street Homeless New Yorkers?City Limits, June 8, 2023, Yet the very people with outsized vulnerability can be difficult to reach, particularly if they don’t have a cell phone, according to Garima Raheja, a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University’s climate school and Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, who researches the effect of air pollution on vulnerable populations.

Officials respond to air quality concerns as it reaches crisis levels statewideNews 12 Hudson Valley, June 8, 2023, "It's really hard almost to find words to describe what we are seeing. Unprecedented comes to mind," says Dr. Dan Westervelt. Westervelt is an atmospheric scientist at Columbia Climate School in Rockland County and an air pollution advisor to the U.S. State Department. "With climate change, things like warmer temperatures, things like worsening droughts, things like changing precipitation patterns, all of those things tend to make wildfires worse. So that's the connection to climate change," he says.

Canadian Wildfires Cause NYC Air to Be 'Hazardous'Metrofocus , June 8, 2023, Interview with Lamont scientist Dan Westervelt

How to stay safe indoors during air quality crisisNY1 , June 08, 2023, “Central air where the building is keeping track of the filters and making sure that they’re replacing those on a regular basis with a high-quality filter,” said Steven Chillrud, Lamont research professor at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. “So not all centralized air conditioning systems are removing the filters.”

How we measure air quality and what the numbers meanCBC (Canada) , June 8, 2023, Different countries have different ways of measuring air quality, including Canada, said Dan Westervelt, an associate research professor at Columbia Climate School's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. There is some variability between the indices countries use, but he says they generally measure similar elements in the air.

NYC's air quality ranked worst of any major city on Wednesday. With climate change, will it happen again?LiveScience, June 8, 2023, Heat from wildfires can push smoke high into the atmosphere, where it is less impacted by weather, Daniel Westervelt, an associate research professor at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, told Curbed. Other types of particles in the atmosphere would fall to Earth with rain fairly quickly, he said. But this process has allowed smoke to persist across the more than 300 miles (480 kilometers) from southern Quebec to New York City.

The Impacts of Urban Air PollutionWABC TV , June 8, 2023, Interview with Lamont Ph.D. student Garima Raheja

Air Quality Plummets as Smoke Blankets East CoastCNN This Morning , June 8, 2023, Live interview with Lamont scientist Dan Westervelt.

Should New Yorkers be wearing face masks outside? NYC says yes. Here's why, USA Today , June 7, 2023, In an email, Steven Chillrud, a research professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, agreed with the city recommendations. “The benefits are a good fitting K95 or N95 mask can remove the majority of the particulate matter, which is what is causing the haze,” he wrote. “The fit is the most important, so even wearing a surgical mask that fits you well can help, but a K95 or N95 mask can work better.”

Haze From Wildfires Raises Asthma, Heart and Other Health Concerns in US NortheastBloomberg News , June 7, 2023 - syndicated, The smoky haze is likely to remain for the rest of the week, given current weather patterns, before blowing out toward the ocean, said Daniel Westervelt, an assistant research professor at Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, NY. “I would expect things to start to get a little bit better as we get closer to the weekend, but the fires are still burning,” Westervelt said.

Smoky skies could become a recurring feature in New York.New York Times , June 7, 2023, The apocalyptic skies, hazardous air and stinging eyes of the last two days may soon be regular occurrences for New Yorkers because wildfires are on the rise, said Daniel Westervelt, a professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “Anecdotally, we’ve seen a few of these,” Dr. Westervelt, an air pollution adviser to the State Department, said. He noted that smoke from West Coast wildfires engulfed New York City in 2021, creating conditions that he described as similarly “unhealthy.”

75M Americans Breathing Unhealthy Air Due to Canadian WildfiresCNN , June 7, 2023, Interview with Lamont scientist Dan Westervelt.

Now Might Be a Good Time to Invest in an Air PurifierGQ , June 7, 2023, As Daniel Westervelt—a Lamont Assistant Research Professor at Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory and an air-pollution adviser to the U.S. State Department—advised Curbed recently, it's not a bad time to invest in an air purifier equipped with a HEPA filter since “while indoor air should be lower in particle concentration than outside, a lot of that air makes its way in one way or another, so we can expect higher concentrations indoors as well.”

NYC air quality breaches 'hazardous' levelGothamist , June 7, 2023, Róisín Commane, an assistant professor of earth and environmental science at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, cautioned that the monitor readings can be unreliable at very high pollutant concentrations. “I'm not sure there's many things that can measure well when the numbers are this high,” she said. “But once it's above a certain amount, it's toxic to people. So whether it's 350 or 355 doesn't really matter if you have to breathe it.”

Air Quality Over New York is 'Horrible'Weather Channel, June 7, 2023, Live interview with Lamont scientist Dan Westervelt

New York's Air Is Worst EverCNN The Lead with Jake Tapper , June 7, 2023, Interview with Lamont scientist Dan Westervelt (segment at 6:16-8:24)

Experts: At Yankees Game, Smoke from Canadian Wildfires Could Put Some Fans at RiskThe Athletic , June 6, 2023, Dan Westervelt, a climate scientist and an assistant research professor at Columbia University, looked outside the window of his Upper East Side home Tuesday night. He could see faint smoke in the air. If he cracked his window, he could smell it and taste it, too. […] Westervelt said he wasn’t worried whether Yankees or White Sox players would be affected much by the poor air quality, considering they’re mostly young and in shape. But he said some people, particularly young children, older people, and those with respiratory or heart conditions, are “definitely going to notice the ill effects from this poor air quality.” Regarding those fans, he said he would “highly recommend to stay inside or avoid strenuous outdoor activities.”

Talking to an Air-Quality Expert About That HazeCurbed, June 6, 2023, Interview with Lamont scientist Daniel Westervelt.

How many oceans are there?MSN , June 8, 2023, "It's kind of the big connector that connects the other oceans," said Frank Nitsche, a marine researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University who has studied the Southern Ocean for decades.

Two Goans among Indo-US researchers to conduct studies in Arabian SeaFree Press Journal (India), June 4, 2023, Goan scientist Prof Joaquim I Goes, and research student, Rohan Menezes, will join the US Research Vessel Roger Revelle when it arrives at Mormugao Port on June 6.

The 125th Street Fault In Harlem, And Harlem’s Earthquake RiskHarlem Wolrd, June 3, 2023, Before 1995, earthquake risks were not taken into consideration in the city’s building code. Thus, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory says many older buildings, such as unenforced three- to six-story buildings, could suffer major damage or crumble.

Antarctic ice melt showing signs of disrupting pivotal global ocean circulation, study showsAxios, May 30, 2023, Of note: Antarctic bottom water makes up nearly half the volume of the global ocean and helps power what the late geoscientist Wallace "Wally" Broecker described as the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt.

The "Impossible" Rocks Found On Top Of A Volcanic IslandIFL Science, May 30, 2023, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory's geochemist Cornelia Class and her team found quartzite up along the ridge within minutes.

New York City Is SinkingRAI News (Italy), May 30, 2023, Interview with Lamont scientist Klaus Jacob (segment runs 10:00-8:25).

New York City Is Sinking under Its Own WeightScientific American, May 26, 2023, “In terms of worrying about sea-level rise globally, generally the notion that most people have is that ice is melting, and that changes sea level,” says Jacky Austermann, a Columbia University geophysicist, who was not involved in the new research. But “it’s only part of the contribution to sea-level rise at any given location.”

Bizarre climate change theory spread by Joe Rogan goes viral in social mediaZME Science, May 26, 2023, Brendan Reilly, a research professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, told The Verge that a shift actually “takes many, many generations” and dismissed shifts being a “dramatic thing.”

 A fake climate change theory is going viral on TikTok after Joe Rogan talked about itThe Verge, May 24, 2023, That process takes place very slowly — likely spanning over a couple thousand years, according to Brendan Reilly, an assistant research professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Rise in extreme wildfires linked directly to emissions from oil companies in new studyCBC News, May 24, 2023, Jatan Buch, a research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, said in an email the research provides "strong evidence" of the impact of emissions traced back to specific fossil fuel companies.

The Montreal Protocol Had a Dramatic Ice-Saving Side EffectPopular Science, May 23, 2023, “The first ice-free Arctic summer–with the Arctic Ocean practically free of sea ice–will be a major milestone in the process of climate change, and our findings were a surprise to us,” study co-author and Columbia University geophysicist Lorenzo Polvani said in a statement. “Our results show that the climate benefits from the Montreal Protocol are not in some faraway future: the Protocol is delaying the melting of Arctic sea ice at this very moment. That’s what a successful climate treaty does: it yields measurable results within a few decades of its implementation.”

Minor Earthquake in WestchesterWCBS Radio, May 23, 2023, Interview with Lamont scientist James Davis.

NYC Is Sinking. Turn It Into a Modern Venice, Says Scientist.New York Post, May 23, 2023, Features Lamont scientist Klaus Jacob

Experts See Climate Change Fingerprint in Worsening Heat Waves and FiresWashington Post, May 23, 2023, The key difference is the seasonal timing. If this were occurring a of couple months later, the impacts would have been much worse and potentially in a similar realm to 2021,” said Sam Bartusek, a doctoral candidate at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. Decades ago, the 2021 heat wave would have been virtually impossible but is now likely to happen every 200 years. That could jump to every ten years when global warming reaches 2 degrees Celsius near mid-century, according to a study published by Bartusek.

Earthquake Ripples Through the RivertownsHudson Independent, May 19, 2023, Again, according to USGS, Lamont-Doherty detected 21 quakes in Westchester between 1970 and 1987.

2.2 Magnitude Quake Shakes Residents of Westchester AwakeWABC NY, May 19, 2023, Leonardo Seeber, a seismologist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said the quake was unusual because it occurred beneath a tectonic plate rather than along plate boundaries. He points out a substantial fault line a few miles away in Dobbs Ferry.

Earthquake Rattles Westchester County, Parts of NJWNBC NY, May 19, 2023, "It was a small earthquake as earthquakes go, but the crust here is very old so it was felt perhaps a little more strongly and over a wider area," said James Davis, a research professor with the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. "A lot of these small magnitude 2 or 1 earthquakes happen because of something local, a quarry for instance, where you’re moving lots of mass and weight around."

The Search for Noah's ArkHistory Channel, May 16, 2023, Mentions work of Lamont scientists Bill Ryan and Walter Pitman.

Noise, Pollution, Danger: How Amazon Warehouses Upended a Sleepy New York NeighborhoodThe Guardian, May 16, 2023, “Some of our most polluted communities in the US are severely under-monitored by traditional air-quality monitoring efforts,” said Dan Westervelt, a scientist at Columbia University studying air pollution. “Neighborhood-scale data leveraging consumer-grade air sensors is critical for addressing latent air-quality challenges.” [...] To improve the accuracy of the monitors, we applied a correction algorithm developed by Dan Westervelt, a Columbia University scientist who uses Purple Air monitors to study traffic pollution in New York City.

Fossil fuels contributed to more than one-third of western wildfiresThe Week, May 16, 2023, The article quotes Lamont researchers Caroline Juang and Jatan Buch.

More than a third of the area charred by wildfires in Western North America can be traced back to fossil fuelsCNN, May 16, 2023, The article quotes Lamont researchers Caroline Juang and Jatan Buch.

New York City Buildings Turn to Carbon CaptureAssociated Press, May 13, 2023 – syndicated, Interview with Lamont scientist Claire Nelson

The Climate Scientist Who Played With FireBarnard Magazine, May 12, 2023, Arnold L. Gordon, Tillinger’s former faculty adviser at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, described her as unique and extraordinarily intelligent. “She reached out to the general public much more than anyone had,” he says. “She was an early advocate of that and was quite impactful.”

The Foundation of ExplorationNOAA Ocean Exploration, May 10, 2023, Video featuring Lamont marine geophysicist Vicki Ferrini.


New York’s Climate Buyout Plans Must Put Communities First, Experts Say By Sarah Fecht, June 23, 2023, “At the Managed Retreat conference, hosted by Columbia Climate School, researchers emphasized the need to work together with communities on climate adaptation.

Adapt or Retreat? Conference Will Explore Questions of Habitability in a Changing World By Olga Rukovets, June 14, 2023, “At Columbia Climate School’s Managed Retreat conference, local and international academics, scientists, and community members will join representatives from different sectors to discuss managed retreat, habitability, and climate justice.”

How Wildfire Smoke Can Travel Thousands of Miles, and How to Protect Yourself By Sarah Fecht, June 8, 2023, “Columbia Climate School experts comment on the dangerous air pollution from Canadian wildfires.”

State Farm’s California Pullout: What It Means for Climate Adaptation and Communities By Sarah Fecht, June 7, 2023, “Do decisions like State Farm’s aid in moving people out of harm’s way? Climate School experts discuss.”

Join Us on June 10 to Celebrate World Fish Migration Day on the Hudson Estuary By Margie Turrin, June 5, 2023, “As winter turns to spring each year, the slight warming of the water, the subtle lengthening of the daylight, and simple biologic triggers can send an assortment of saltwater fish inland to reproduce.”

Montreal Protocol Is Delaying First Ice-Free Arctic Summer By Holly Evarts, May 25, 2023, “New research from Columbia climate scientists shows that the 1987 ozone treaty, designed to protect the ozone layer, has postponed the occurrence of the first ice-free Arctic by as much as 15 years.”

Columbia Climate School Leadership Announcement By Lee C. Bollinger, May 24, 2023, “On July 1, 2023, Jeffrey Shaman will become Interim Dean of the Climate School, continuing the work of co-deans Alex Halliday, Jason Bordoff, Ruth DeFries, and Maureen Raymo, climate leaders who built the School’s strong foundation.”

We Made Musical Instruments From Trash at Manhattanville Community Day By Columbia Climate, May 23, 2023, “Inspired by Bash the Trash, kids had a chance to make musical instruments out of reusable materials, then perform in a parade.”

Faculty Spotlight: Suzana Camargo, Plasma Physicist Turned Extreme Weather Expert By Frederique Fyhr, May 16, 2023, When she came to Columbia, she started a research project on hurricanes that she thought would last a year. More than 20 years later, hurricanes are still her main area of interest.”

Hello Friends,

What a pleasant activity-filled few weeks it has been!  Highlights include Dr. Terry Plank’s Public Lecture before a great turnout of friends, neighbors, and faculty in Monell Auditorium this past Tuesday night.  They all enjoyed a fascinating talk entitled “At the Speed of Volcanic Eruptions”.  The audience oohed, they aahed, they gasped, they laughed—I’m not kidding, it was a tour de force.  Thank you, Terry!

On Wednesday, April 26, Lamont was also honored to host the Vetlesen Prize Lectures in Monell Auditorium, presented by two of the greatest minds in the field of Earth sciences, the 2020 Laureate Dr. Anny Cazenave and the 2023 Laureate Dr. David Kohlstedt.  Dr. Cazenave gave a talk on "Present-day Sea Level Rise: The Role of Space Observations"; Dr. Kohlstedt followed with a presentation on "Adventures with Olivine and Beyond".  The event, which included a breakfast reception, was attended by the Laureate's families, Vetlesen Prize nominators, and colleagues from other institutions, Lamont and Columbia University.  Click here to view the recorded lectures. 

In addition to our neighbors and colleagues visiting, we’ve also hosted many other distinguished guests and groups over the last few weeks, many of whom were given tours of the campus.  (And I know, the number of tours are getting a little out of hand and we are trying to brainstorm how to make them less burdensome—however, a good problem to have.)  On Friday, April 28, we hosted leaders of the Toyota Research Institute and the Genesis Research Institute.  The Genesis Research Institute promotes its vision of “the sustainability and happiness of human beings and the Earth”.  Our guests spent the morning touring the Lamont campus and learning about our work, especially in the areas of microplastics and carbon sequestration research.  Follow-up meetings are already planned.

On the same day, we also hosted a visit from our colleagues at Columbia’s Global Center new Climate Hub|Rio. We hosted lunch with Tom Trebat, Center Director, and his team along with various Lamont scientists and students whose interests dovetailed with theirs. The Rio team was eager to hear about the Earth science and climate work being done at LDEO and to find ways to collaborate with our scientists.  The Global Center is now accepting applications "for seed funding from Columbia faculty and researchers interested in pursuing climate-related research in Brazil as part of a collaboration between the Columbia Global Center in Rio and the City of Rio de Janeiro."  Please visit the program's website for more details.  I’m sure they will be eagerly looking for proposals from Lamont.

That same week, on April 24, we hosted U.S. Congressional staffers and representatives from The Climate Solutions Foundation.  This visit aimed to educate climate and energy-focused staffers on these areas of science and policy. The Foundation was inspired by the creation of the House Climate Solutions Caucus, which under the leadership of then Caucus Co-Chairman Congressman Carlos Curbelo, grew to include almost 100 bipartisan Members of Congress.  The Caucus educates members on economically viable options to reduce climate risk and explore bipartisan policy options that address the impacts, causes, and challenges of our changing climate.  These are the leaders who will be central to setting research priorities for the nation and it was a great opportunity to share our science and vision with their staff.

There have been numerous other visits over the past month and I would be remiss if I didn’t give a huge shout-out to Miriam, Naomi, Janice, and Josh for all their efforts in making these events go off without a hitch.  Also, I thank Meghan Fay and her development team, our partners for many of these outreach activities.  Finally, to all the lab scientists who so generously give of their time and enthusiasm during the tours, thank you!!  

A few more shout-outs:  To DEES Professor Jonny Kingslake, the recipient of a 2023 LenfestDistinguished Columbia Faculty Award.  And congratulations to Fola Kolawole, also a DEES Professor, who was awarded a Junior Mid-Career Faculty Grant for his work on "Fracture-Modulated CO2 Migration and Storage in On-Shore Saline Aquifers.”

 Please also join me in wishing Robert Daly, Lamont's Facilities Traffic Department Assistant Manager, a happy retirement.  Bob will retire this month after more than 38 years of service to Lamont.  I invite you to read Andy Reed's heartwarming tribute to Bob.  You may not know this but Bob is also the Fire Chief at the nearby Sparkill Fire Station, a fact that always gave me comfort on this campus filled with old buildings. 

Larry Palumbo, Assistant Manager of Facilities, is also leaving soon. Larry has been here for almost 8 years and has had a significant impact on the Lamont community.  Always willing to help and get the job done, he has garnered the respect of his superiors and colleagues.  We will miss his high adventure stories, knowledge of the Rockland County community, and seeing him walking or riding his bike around campus greeting and conversing with people as the "mayor of Lamont".  We wish him well and look forward to seeing him at the next open house.

Finally, on a beautiful Thursday, a record number of Lamonters - 20 in total - participated in the May 11 Bike-to-Work Day event. From Andrew Goodwillie, “Thank you to the Director's Office for so enthusiastically supporting the event, to Rich, Laura and Angela in the cafeteria for feeding us so well, and to BnG for sweeping all of the stones off the back entrance to Lamont! With perfect weather, one group came down from Nyack, Piermont and Tappan, cycling along the old rail trail with stunning views of the river. The city cycling group had quite the adventure in finding that a large section of road was closed today for construction work! They had to double back towards the city, adding an extra five miles to their route! Some of these cyclists had not previously biked to Lamont and enjoyed today's event as a community-building activity. There were also requests to hold a similar event in the Fall. So, all around a big success!  And thanks to Nick Frearson who kindly staffed the Lamont bike repair station at lunchtime so that we could pump up tires and make mechanical tweaks in preparation for the ride home! The bike repair station was set up two years ago with support from the Campus Life Committee and the Lamont Directorate.”  Great pics!

In closing, please enjoy all the wildlife roaming about this week—there are goslings, giant bullfrogs, and hefty turtles all lurking around the edges of the pond.  Nice viewing can be had from the picnic spot opposite the Storke Labs building.

Best, Mo



More Frequent Dust Storms Could Be in Our Future
Scientific American

May 10, 2023
“These were storms that eroded hundreds of millions of pounds of topsoil and spread dust as far as New York City,” says Benjamin Cook, a climate scientist specializing in land surface change and drought at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Two Months After News About Indoor Air Pollution in Gowanus Canal Area, Questions Linger
Brooklyn Magazine

May 10, 2023
“Seeing these numbers, I think, is a cause for concern,” said Dr. Dan Westervelt, an air pollution scientist and assistant research professor at Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory. “No matter how you try to spin it, they are fairly high compared to the healthy standards put together based on all kinds of exposure, toxicology, and epidemiology studies.”

Rooftop gardens pitched for bus stops as cheap remedy to NYC’s flood problems

May 5, 2023
Dandan Wei is an atmospheric scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, where she specializes in the city’s daily carbon fluxes.

The Incredible Environmental Benefits of NYC Trees
Columbia Magazine

May 4, 2023
An article on research by Lamont scientists Róisín Commane and Dandan Wei.

Devastating Impact of Wildfire Smoke on Indigenous South Americans Revealed by New Study

May 4, 2023
A study coauthored by Lamont graduate student Garima Raheja.

In the Pacific Northwest, 2021 Was the Hottest Year in a Millennium

May 2, 2023
An article on research by Lamont postdoc Karen Heeter.

NYC’s air is ‘as clean as it’s ever been,’ but that’s still pretty gross

April 26, 2023
“New York is as clean as it has ever been,” said Dr. Róisín Commane, an assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences at Columbia University.

Food Production Could Add 1°C of Global Warming by 2100
AGU's Eos

April 25, 2023
By measuring pollutants only in carbon dioxide equivalents, previous research on food production’s climate effects fell short of accounting for emissions changes and downplayed the real impact of these gases in the long term, said study lead author Catherine Ivanovich, a climate scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

A mystery inthe Pacific is complicating climate projections

Yale Climate Connections with Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz 

April 24, 2023

Richard Seager of Columbia University is one of the first and most persistent scientists looking into the perplexing sea surface temperature trend. “We first wrote a paper on this in 1997,” he said. Columbia’s Michael Tippett documented that the North American Multi-Model Ensemble projected that the eastern Pacific would warm between May and August in 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2017. All of these model forecasts were wrong.

Ridgecrest faults increasingly sensitive to solid Earth tides before earthquakes

April 21, 2023
"The signal of tidal modulation becomes extremely strong" after 2018, said Eric Beauce of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, who noted that the signal was identified with seismicity that occurred around the faults that broke in the 2019 magnitude 7.1 earthquake.

PolitiFact - CO2 is only 0.04% of the atmosphere, but a viral video ignores that it’s a major climate threat

April 21, 2023
Yochanan Kushnir, a climate physics scientist at Columbia University, wrote that because we are increasing the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide by burning fossil fuels. He said that even in relatively small amounts compared with the entire mass of the atmosphere, this leads to global warming.

U.S. Navy Renames Ship to Honor Marie Tharp, a Columbia University Oceanographer
Women in Academia Report

April 20, 2023
Ship Renamed in honor of Marie Tharp

45+ Exciting Environmental Science Programs for High School Students

April 18, 2023
The Lamont-Doherty Secondary School Field Research Program brings high school students, undergraduate students, and science teachers to the Lamont campus each summer for six weeks of field and laboratory research. Students and teachers collaborate with Lamont researchers on a scientific research project.

How Melting Arctic Ice Can Fuel Faraway Wild Fires

April 18, 2023
Includes research, imagery from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

The 100th Meridian Is Moving East. Here's Why That Matters
The Cooldown

April 17, 2023
Climate scientist Richard Seager, who led two 2018 studies in the journal “Earth Interactions,” predicted that as this drying trend continues, farms further east will need to combine and grow to survive. Farmers would need to adapt or use irrigation or change crops.

The Creeping Threat of the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt

April 16, 2023
What is alarming is the rate at which it is growing. Oceanographer Ajit Subramaniam, who has run scientific research expeditions in the South Atlantic for 25 years, first noticed it in 2018. “Here was something I’d never seen before,” he says.

Rising to Challenges Beneath the Earth
Valparaiso University News

April 16, 2023
A story on David Kohlstedt's award of the Vetlesen Prize.

The summer of 2021 was the Pacific Northwest’s hottest in a millennium
Science News

April 14, 2023
The extreme heat caused wildfires to rage and boosted the rates of heat-related deaths in the region, says Karen Heeter, a dendrochronologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y.


California Quake Faults Are Highly Sensitive to Solid Earth Tides, Say Scientists By Columbia Climate School, May 10, 2023, “Oceans have tides, and so does the solid earth. Could they have an effect on earthquake faults? Yes, say scientists, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they cause big quakes.”

Upcoming Scientific Fieldwork, 2023 and Beyond By Kevin Krajick, May 9, 2023, “Climate School researchers are carrying out fieldwork on every continent and every ocean. A guide to upcoming projects.”

Indigenous South Americans Far More Likely to Die From Wildfire Smoke, Study Says By Columbia Climate School, May 4, 2023, “Smoke from wildfires is a health threat to everyone, but Indigenous people in South America are especially vulnerable due to a number of factors.”

Two Studies Push Upright Ape Origins in Africa Back by 10 Million Years By Columbia Climate School, May 2, 2023, “Analyses of plant remains and other evidence show that the landscapes our ape ancestors evolved in existed much earlier than previously thought.”

Vetlesen Prize Ceremony Honors Two Distinguished Researchers in Earth Sciences By Olga Rukovets, May 1, 2023, “A celebration held at Columbia University recognized scientists Anny Cazenave and David Kohlstedt as the 2020 and 2023 Vetlesen Prize recipients.”

5 Questions With a Scientist and Student Researching Carbon Storage By Marie DeNoia Aronsohn, April 24, 2023, “Environmental scientist Martin Stute and Barnard student Grace Brown discuss their project studying the potential for a rock formation in Oman to store carbon dioxide.”

Land Subsidence in the Netherlands By Mike Steckler, April 23, 2023, “At a symposium on land subsidence, I learned about how the Dutch transformed their country so that about a quarter of it is below sea level and how they cope with it.”

Faculty Spotlight: Einat Lev, Volcanologist and Lava-Chaser By Frederique Fyhr, April 21, 2023, “When she’s not visiting active volcano sites or working in her “plumber’s shop” of a lab, Lev is teaching the “Sustainability in the Face of Natural Disasters” for the Sustainability Science program.”

Our Beautiful Planet: Photos from Columbia Climate School (2023 Edition) By Columbia Climate School, April 19, 2023, “On Earth Day and every day, Columbia Climate School is working to understand our planet and promote more sustainable ways of living and doing business.”

First 'Worlds at Waste' Conference Takes an Interdisciplinary Look at Water in South Asia By Pria Mahadevan, April 19, 2023, “From glaciers and landslides to displacement and flooding, two Columbia University professors broke down academic silos and reflected on water issues.”

Hello Friends,  

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Dhruv Balwada to the Lamont Research Faculty.  Dhruv transferred from the position of Associate Research Scientist to Lamont Assistant Research Professor on February 1st.  Dhruv's research focus is on ocean turbulence, using a combination of observations, models, and data-driven approaches (including machine learning) to improve our understanding of ocean circulation and the fidelity of ocean and climate models.  He will continue to be based in the Ocean and Climate Physics Division.

Two of our DEES graduate students also defended their research recently.  On March 27, Michael Deluca defended his Ph.D. thesis on "New 40Ar/39Ar geochronological constraints on the Old Red Sandstone and Caledonides of Scotland".  Congratulations, Michael!  And on April 12, DEES graduate student Allie Balter-Kennedy defended her Ph.D. thesis on “Evaluation of ice sheet vulnerability and landscape evolution using novel cosmogenic-nuclide techniques”.  Allie plans to continue at Lamont as a Postdoctoral Research Scientist in Joerg’s lab.  Congratulations Allie!

In other student newsLamont summer interns Leysha and Leonah Esteves (twin sisters!) have won a windfall of prizes at the Westchester Science and Engineering Fair.  Leonah, whose project was "A Geoengineered Eco-Friendly Solution for Controlling Outbreaks of Harmful Algal Blooms of Noctiluca scintillans in the Arabian Sea", won a 3rd Place Bronze medal ($75), the Creative Approach to Research Award ($200), and the Association for Women Geoscientists Award for Outstanding Project in Environmental Sciences.  Her sister Leysha, whose project was "First Evidence of Microplastic Ingestion by Mixotrophic Dinoflagellate Noctiluca scintillans at the base of the Marine Food Chain", won the US Stockholm Junior Water Award of Excellence for a water-related science research project.  Leysha has an opportunity to go to Stockholm if she wins the State level science fair competition.  We wish them all the best and hope to hear about their future successes.  Joaquim Goes passes on that they both got accepted into Barnard as well.

In the Marine Large Programs DivisionLori McCaleb, will be leaving Lamont in mid-April to take up a new position at the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies in Asheville, NC.  Before starting at Lamont, Lori worked at the University of Alaska, managing the build of the research vessel Sikuliaq for NSF.  Since February 2015, she has served as the Business Manager for Lamont's MLP Division.  Over these past eight years, Lori's experience and insight have been instrumental in the smooth administration of the division, particularly for the U.S. Science Support Program Office, which facilitates the involvement of scientists, including many from Lamont, in the International Ocean Discovery Program.  Her commitment, responsiveness to PI needs, and willingness to find solutions as challenges arise made her vital to the Division's success.  We wish her all the best in her new position!

I’d like to end with two save-the-dates.  On May 9th, we will have the pleasure of hosting this year’s third Lamont Public Lecture entitled “At the Speed of Volcanic Eruptions” presented by Terry Plank, Arthur D. Storke Memorial Professor in the Geochemistry Division. Register here to join us at 6 pm for cocktails and light bites and from 7-8 pm for the Lecture.  Post-docs and early career researchers, please feel free to join and mingle.

Please also join us next week along our cherry tree allée.  We will be celebrating the season at our campus-wide Spring Feast on April 19th at 3:30 pm between SGT and OBS.  Hope to see you there!

Have a peaceful weekend, Mo



The following six articles are on a study led by Karen Heeter, a postdoctoral research scientist at Lamont.

1,000 Years of Tree Rings Show Just How Hardcore the 2021 Pacific Northwest Heat Wave WasGizmodo, March 30, 2023, The team looked at tree rings across northern Idaho and the Cascade Range of Oregon and Washington, as well as rings from samples taken in the 1990s by other researchers in British Columbia. Study author and scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Karen Heeter described how, during unusually hot years, tree rings are denser. "I'm looking at how dense the later growing portion of the ring is," Heeter told Earther during a phone call.

Northwest's Hottest Summer in 1,000 Years Revealed by Tree RingsKUOW, March 29, 2023

1,000 years of tree rings confirm 2021 heat wave was historicInteresting Engineering, March 28, 2023, As suggested by Columbia Climate School, temperature records were broken by tens of degrees in numerous locations, wildfires started, and at least 1,400 people died. Scientists blamed the event mainly on human-driven climate warming and declared it unprecedented. "It's not that the Pacific Northwest has never before experienced waves of high temperature. But with climate change, their magnitude is much hotter, and they have a much greater impact on the community," said lead author Karen Heeter, a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. "Being able to look at the past and compare that with climate models and come to similar conclusions, there's a lot of power in that."

Tree rings confirm the historic significance of 2021 heat, March 27, 2023

Tree Rings Confirmed Historic Human-Influenced Warming of Western North America Over Last 40 YearsNature World News, March 27, 2023

The 2021 Western America Heat Wave Was the Worst for the Last 1,000 YearsLa Vanguardia (Spain), March 27, 2023

Why Hurricanes Don't Cross the EquatorNewsweek, March 27, 2023, The storm surge associated with tropical cyclones are also expected to increase," Suzana Camargo, a research professor of ocean and climate physics at Columbia University, told Newsweek. "These are robust projections globally."

Antarctica has lost 3,000 billion tons of ice in 25, March 24, 2023
“Ocean temperature changes and glacial dynamics appear strongly connected in this part of the world, but this work highlights the large variability and unexpected processes by which snowfall also plays a direct role in modulating glacier mass,” concluded co-author Pierre Dutrieux, Lamont Adjunct Senior Research Scientist.

Manik Talwani, an internationally recognized pioneer of modern applied marine geophysics, died on March 22. Obituary:


Climate School Internship Opportunities for Summer 2023 By Yana Zeltser, April 10, 2023, “A variety of positions are available. Applications will be accepted until Monday, April 24.”

Ivan Tolstoy, Who Elucidated Travels of Sound Through Oceans and Air, and Helped Map Seabeds, Dies at 99 By Kevin Krajick, April 4, 2023, "From beginnings as an exile from the Russian Revolution, a life spent studying geology and long-distance acoustics at sea and in the atmosphere."

Sea Level Rise: A Crash Course for All By Marie DeNoia Aronsohn, March 28, 2023, "Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory presents a public lecture on the driving forces and dynamics reshaping global coastlines."

1,000-Plus Years of Tree Rings Confirm Historic Extremity of 2021 Western North America Heat Wave By Kevin Krajick, March 27, 2023, "Scientists quickly pronounced the summer 2021 heat wave that hit western North America to be unprecedented, but they had no long-term physical proof. Now they do."

Hello Friends,

Birds, birds, birds!  Birds!  It is that time of year when the birds seem to be everywhere.  Flocks of starlings pecking at the ground, random robins mixed in, red-necked flickers digging into tree bark, turkeys roaming the campus, turkey vultures hanging out on Lamont Hall’s chimneys, and of course, the return of the Canadian geese.  However, the most spectacular change I have noticed this year is that a resident family of bald eagles is now soaring over our campus.  Since moving up to the Monell Building three years ago, I would occasionally notice a bald eagle fly by on its way to Piermont or points south.  However, last fall, a pair of eagles appeared to have moved into the neighborhood, being spotted regularly soaring above our cliffs.  About a month ago, two more eagles joined them—eaglets!   Mottled, more diminutive, and clearly being taught how to fly and hunt by their parents, it has been spectacular watching this family drama unfold.  They talk to each other, and the children follow the adults through the air, copying their behaviors (talons out, lean back, now dive!).  The next time there is a sunny day, if you come to the rocks behind the Directorate around 3 pm in the afternoon, I’d bet there is an 80% chance you will see the eagles.  I don’t know where the nest is, but I think it is somewhere just south of and down from the Oceanography Building.

 From soaring to sailing, Sean Higgins, Director of Lamont's Office of Marine Operations, shares that the end of February marked the retirement of two long-time OMO employees.  One is Matt Tucke, who began sailing as a Jr. Shipboard Engineer on the R/V Conrad in 1986 and then sailed for LDEO with the Ewing.   Matt ultimately rose to the rank of Chief Engineer on the Langseth in a career spanning 36+ years, which is the longest tenure of any crew member on LDEO ships and about half as long as we've operated ships here.  Sean added, "It is indeed a remarkable career overall that will not likely be duplicated.  I don't recall when he missed his rotation, didn't pick up the phone to help with a problem, or didn't fly on short notice to fill in."

The second retiree is David Martinson, who joined the R/V Langseth as a consultant on the technical science support team during the refit of the Langseth in 2007 and was quickly hired to become a key team member for over 15 years.  David brought over 25 years of valuable industry and technical expertise to help bring onboard systems up to speed and maintained at a high standard.  He filled almost every role on the technical team during his time here and became a go-to community resource for data processing and questions on data collection.  No matter how chaotic things got, David always said, "It's going to be fine."  Matt and David, we wish you all the best in your retirement, and thank you for your long years of exceptional service!

 And speaking of ships, it was quite exciting to learn that a U.S. Navy survey ship was recently renamed the U.S.N.S. Marie Tharp!  You can read more about this here and here.  We might need this survey ship to survey the 5,000-mile-long mass of seaweed that is coming for Florida.  Ajit Subramaniam, an LRP in BPE, was recently interviewed about this giant Sargassum patch by PBS News, illuminating the risk and damage to small island economies of the Caribbean of this emerging climate change threat.

Also involved in ocean observations is Lamont’s most recently minted Ph.D. Una Miller.  On March 17, Una defended her Ph.D. thesis on "Moored observations of upper-ocean turbulence and polynya processes."  Una will be starting a postdoctoral position in April with Jaime Palter at URI, working on the GOHSNAP project to constrain oxygen fluxes and transport in the North Atlantic.  Congratulations, Dr. Miller!

I had the pleasure of hosting our spring neighbors' reception this past Tuesday evening.  The reception was followed by a lecture with Jacqueline Austermann, Assistant Professor in DEES.  Jacky's talk, titled "How Much Will Sea Level Rise? Diving into the Past to Predict Future Change", was attended by 76 neighbors, friends, and Lamont staff.  A guest commented, "Loved it, fantastic, and thank you so much for sharing and including the public in what you are doing, and for all your great science."  A recording of the lecture is available here.  Our next public lecture will be by Terry Plank on May 9 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm, and I encourage all to attend.  Our neighbors enjoy talking to the scientists at the reception, and the talks are terrific.

I also hope you can attend the Town Hall in Monell Auditorium on Monday, March 27, at 3:00 pm to "Meet the Teams" from across CU, teams that support our research success.  They appreciate that we are one of the university’s research juggernauts and are happy to make the trek upriver.  We will start informally at 2:00 pm with a coffee hour networking before the event.  The Town Hall is an opportunity to learn about the many services and resources available to our scientists across Columbia University, with presentations by Jeannette Wing, Executive Vice President for Research, and leaders from various relevant departments.  You can still register here (this helps us gauge how much food to order).

Lastly, Lamont Research Professor Steven Chillrud shared the sad news that former Lamonter and DEES graduate, Dr. Ana Lúcia Gonçalves Macário, passed away on March 6 in Germany after battling breast cancer.  Ana was Dr. Bill Ryan's student and came from Brazil—a sad loss for our scientific community.

Have a peaceful weekend.  Mo



 Statue of Liberty Photos Don't Disprove Sea-Level RiseAssociated Press, March 22, 2023 - syndicated, “Tidal variability is like 5 feet or so in this area,” said Jacqueline Austermann, an assistant professor at Columbia University who studies sea level change. “Depending on what time of the day this picture was taken, you could have tens of centimeters difference just because of tidal variability.”

IPCC report says world needs all-out climate pushChristian Science Monitor, March 20, 2023, "With each new report, we have a better understanding of how things go together," says Jason Smerdon, a Columbia University professor who co-wrote the textbook "Climate Change: The Science of Global Warming and our Energy Future."  

Early Warning Signs Prior to 2002 Antarctic Ice Shelf CollapseECO Magazine, March 20, 2023, Also contributing to this study were Zhengrui Huang, a doctoral student in geography at Penn State; Hongxing Liu, a professor at the University of Alabama; Kenneth Jezek, professor emeritus at Ohio State University; Patrick Alexander, an associate research scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Climate Models Aren’t Dusty EnoughAGU's Eos, March 20, 2023, According to Gisela Winckler, a paleoclimatologist at Columbia University, the uncertainty in dust's effect due to so many factors is made worse by the generally poor data Kok's study has had to rely on.

 What to Know About Giant Mats of SeaweedPBS Newshour, March 19, 2023, Interview with Lamont scientist Ajit Subramaniam

How El Nino May Test the Limits of Our Climate KnowledgeTime, March 18, 2023, By Lamont scientist Adam Sobel

Earth's Inner Core May Be More Complex Than Researchers ThoughtScience News, March 15, 2023, By identifying and reporting seismic waves that bounced back and forth through the planet’s interior multiple times, the researchers have made an invaluable contribution that will help researchers study the core in new ways, says seismologist Paul Richards of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y.

Extreme floods and droughts worsening with climate change, study findsCBS News, March 14, 2023, "Looking forward into the future, in terms of managing water resources and flood control, we should be anticipating that the wetter extremes will be wetter and the dry extremes will get drier," said Richard Seager, a climate scientist at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University.

Confirmed: Global Floods, Droughts Worsening With WarmingAssociated Press, March 13, 2023 – syndicated, “Looking forward into the future, in terms of managing water resources and flood control, we should be anticipating that the wetter extremes will be wetter and the dry extremes will get drier,” said Richard Seager, a climate scientist at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, who was not involved with the study.

Water disasters on both ends of the spectrum – dry and wet – are getting more intense as planet warmsCNN, March 13, 2023 – syndicated, Richard Seager, professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, who was not involved with the study, told CNN that the scientists’ use of satellites to analyze water events was a new angle as most studies just measure levels of precipitation or soil moisture.

The following five articles are on U.S. Navy renaming vessel after Lamont scientist Marie Tharp:

U.S. Navy Renames 2 Ships in Bid to Sink Confederate Ties,New York Post , March 17, 2023

Stripping Confederate Ties, the U.S. Navy Renames Two VesselsNew York Times, March 11, 2023

Confederate's Name Removed From Navy Survey ShipNavy Times, March 10, 2023

Navy Renames Ship After Pioneering Female Ocean ResearcherYahoo News, March 10, 2023

USNS Maury to be Renamed in Honor of Geologist Who Mapped Atlantic Ocean, USNI News, March 8, 2023


Exploring the Sundarbans and Back to Dhaka By Mike Steckler, March 22, 2023, “Our group of 24 Americans and Bangladeshis continued to explore the Sundarbans mangrove forest, rice farming in embanked low-lying islands, and heritage sites of Bangladesh.”

Cutting Confederate Ties, the U.S. Navy Names Ships for a Pioneering Female Oceanographer and a Daring Enslaved Pilot By Kevin Krajick, March 16, 2023, “Marie Tharp was a marine scientist in a man’s world. Robert Smalls was a skilled sailor, but held as a slave. Both are now being honored by the U.S. Navy.”

Across the Ganges to Southwest Bangladesh and the Sundarbans By Mike Steckler, March 15, 2023, “Our group of 23 American and Bangladeshi students and professors traveled from the Jamuna River to the Ganges and Gorai Rivers, and then down to an island on the edge of the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest.”

Taking My Class to Bangladesh By Mike Steckler, March 15, 2023, “My undergraduate Sustainable Development course is in Bangladesh for a Spring Break trip to see what they have been learning about. We will be touring the country by bus and boat to learn about the environment and people in Bangladesh."

Hello Friends,

Our graduate students continue to thrive and drive this week—drive the science forward, that is.  A global media blitz (see list below) accompanied Catherine Ivanovich’s recent paper in Nature Climate Change on “Future Warming from Global Food Consumption”, an article that reminds us all that we should become increasingly cognizant of how we eat.  Another DEES graduate student, Tyler Janoski, received an Outstanding Student Presentation Award (OSPA) for his presentation at the AGU 2022 Fall Meeting on "Examining the Fast Timescales of Arctic Amplification Following an Instantaneous COIncrease".  Tyler’s co-advisors are Michael Previdi and Lorenzo Polvani.  Congratulations, Tyler!  Finally, On March 7, Henry Towbin successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis on "The Fidelity of the Mantle Signal in Peridotite Xenoliths: Interactions during Magmatic Ascent”. Henry will start as a postdoc at the Gemological Institute in April. Congratulations Henry!

The Paros-PGI Observatory Technical & Innovation Center [OTIC] Steering Committee and the OTIC Co-Chairs, Nick Frearson & Spahr Webb, asked me to remind you that the Lamont OTIC proposal submission deadline is fast approaching on Wednesday, March 15. “Don't miss out on your chance to get funded up to $120K to develop innovative instruments to be used in making laboratory and/or field observations in your area of research.” Details here.

I’d also like to give a plug for our cafeteria, a vital part of our community. As we continue to learn about how to adapt to the new normal with a hybrid workforce, our fantastic cafeteria staff, comprising Rich, Laura, and Angela, are grappling with the varying and unpredictable levels of campus attendance—to the point that the cafeteria operations are hanging in the balance. As such, we would like to encourage every member of our campus to support the cafeteria by tapping the cafeteria for the usual day-to-day orders as well as, larger catering requests for on-campus seminars, meetings, and other events. 

Speaking of the cafeteria, this month we joined in the café to say farewell to Joshua Davenport, who for the past seven years worked from 2:00 to 10:00 PM for the Security/Safety Office as the campus' Night Supervisor.  In his place, we welcome Timothy Trimble. Josh has spent the past two weeks acquainting Tim with his new position and its unique challenges (here is how you work the snake-catching device, Tim….).  We send Josh our best wishes on his future endeavors and to Tim on his new position.

A few key save-the-dates to note: as part of the Lamont Public Lecture Series, on Tuesday, March 21 at 6:00 PM, Lamont will host a talk by Jacqueline Austermann, Assistant Professor, DEES and SGT Division, on “How Much Will Sea Level Rise? Diving into the Past to Predict Future Change.” Additional information and the program here.  On Monday, March 27 at 3:00 PM, the Office of Research will be hosting a Town Hall with key members of the Executive Vice President of Research’s Office (EVPR), Columbia Tech Ventures (CTV), and Risk Management. This will be your chance to hear from and speak to Columbia’s research administration & compliance leaders and ask any questions you may have.  The Town Hall will take place in the Monell Auditorium, with a Zoom option for those who can’t attend in person. A few weeks later, on April 26, Lamont will have the honor of hosting the 2023 Vetlesen Prize Lectures in the Monell Auditorium. You are invited to a 9:00 - 10:00 AM breakfast reception and 10:00 - 11:30 AM lectures by two giants of our field, Drs. Anny Cazenave and David Kohlstedt, 2020 and 2023 Vetlesen Prize Laureates, respectively.  A formal announcement to come.

I’d like to end by saying a few words about a member of the Lamont community that passed away recently.  It was Robert Daly, Sr., the father of Lamont Traffic Supervisor Bob Daly.  After serving in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and as an NYPD Police Officer, Bob Sr. worked in Lamont’s Facilities Department for several years. He also joined the John Paulding Engine Company Sparkill/Palisades Fire Department as a volunteer, where he became Assistant Chief and, later on, Commissioner. Tom Burke in our Traffic department wrote: "Bob will be deeply missed by his former colleagues and friends at Lamont".  

Our thoughts are with you, Bob.   Best, Mo



U.S. winters are warming faster than summers, study findsYahoo News, March 9, 2023, "Whenever we get these events, we should always be thinking there's the possibility or likelihood that human-induced climate change is increasing the likelihood of strange weather," Richard Seager, a climate researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, told CNN.

U.S. Winters Are Warming Faster Than Summers, Study FindsThe Week, March 9, 2023, "Whenever we get these events, we should always be thinking there's the possibility or likelihood that human-induced climate change is increasing the likelihood of strange weather," Richard Seager, a climate researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, told CNN.

Greenland temperatures surge up to 50 degrees above normal, setting recordsThe Washington Post, March 7, 2023, "You really see this high-pressure system sitting right there," said Marco Tedesco, a researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University.

The following 13 articles are on: Food Systems Study by DEES Graduate Student Catherine Ivanovich:

The Paris Agreement Will Fail Without Slashing Emissions From Meat and Dairy, Researchers Say
Inside Climate News, March 7, 2023, "I think the biggest takeaway that I would want (policymakers) to have is the fact that methane emissions are really dominating the future warming associated with the food sector,” Catherine Ivanovich, a climate scientist at Columbia University and the study’s lead author, said.

Meat, Dairy, Rice Will Raise Global Temperature 1.5 Degrees: StudyLivemint (India), March 7, 2023, “Methane has this really dominant role in driving the warming associated with the food systems," said Catherine Ivanovich, at Columbia University in the US, who led the research.

High-Methane Food Consumption Must Drop to Meet Paris GoalsGreen Queen (Hong Kong), March 7, 2023, Reducing emissions from the food system is critical to achieving our climate goals,” lead study author Catherine Ivanovich, who led the research at Columbia University, said in a statement.

Global Food System Emissions Imperil Climate GoalsHurriyet (Turkey), March 7, 2023, “Mitigating emissions from the food sector is essential to working toward a secure climate future,” the study’s lead author Catherine Ivanovich, a doctoral student at Columbia University in New York, said.

The Food on Our Plate Is Causing Climate Change. Here's a Multipronged Solution.ProVeg, March 7, 2023, This latest study is from a team led by Catherine Ivanovich from Columbia University, New York, which creates new forecasts for greenhouse gas emissions from food production. It finds that food production alone could cause the average temperature on the planet to rise by 0.9 degrees centigrade. But 75%of this warming is driven by foods that are high sources of methane – ruminant meat, dairy, and rice.

Agricultural Emissions to Push World Past 1.5 Degree Limit, Study WarnsEcoWatch, March 7, 2023, “I think the biggest takeaway that I would want (policymakers) to have is the fact that methane emissions are really dominating the future warming associated with the food sector,” Catherine Ivanovich, lead author of the study and a climate scientist at Columbia University, told The Associated Press.

A Diet That Reduces Global WarmingNature World News, March 7, 2023, “Current patterns of consumption and production are inconsistent with increasing sustainability while pursuing a secure climate future,” lead author Catherine C. Ivanovich, a researcher in Columbia University’s Department of Environmental Sciences.

How Our Diet Could Hurt the ClimateDeutsche Welle (Germany), March 8, 2023, Article on a study led by Lamont grad student Catherine Ivanovich.

Temperature Could Rise by 1 Degree Due to Food ProductionLa Repubblica, March 8, 2023, Article on a study led by Lamont grad student Catherine Ivanovich.

GlobalFood System Emissions Imperil Paris GoalsAgence France-Presse, March 7, 2023 - syndicated, "Mitigating emissions from the food sector is essential to working toward a secure climate future," the study's lead author Catherine Ivanovich, a doctoral student at Columbia University in New York, told AFP.

FoodSystem Emissions Imperil Paris GoalsThe Hindu (India), March 7, 2023, To improve previous estimates of how much feeding the world adds to global warming, [Catherine] Ivanovich and her colleagues looked separately at the three main greenhouse gases, which vary in potency and staying power in the atmosphere.

FoodProduction Heats Up Earth; Researchers Recommend a Climate DietNTV (Germany), March 7, 2023, The study by Catherine Ivanovich of Columbia University predicted the effects of emissions from agricultural systems on future climate.

The Food System Is Awful for the Climate. It Doesn't Have to Be.Wired, March 6, 2023, The authors of the new study, which was published today in the journal Nature Climate Change, caution that their calculation is likely an underestimate. “We’re just considering, essentially, for our baseline scenario: How much additional warming could we expect if the entire global population ate exactly the same as it does today?” says lead author Catherine Ivanovich, a climate scientist at Columbia University and the Environmental Defense Fund.

Food Consumption May Add Nearly 1 Degree of Warming by 2100The Washington Post, March 6, 2023 - syndicated, “I think the biggest takeaway that I would want (policymakers) to have is the fact that methane emissions are really dominating the future warming associated with the food sector,” said Catherine C. Ivanovich, a climate scientist at Columbia University and the study’s lead author.

TheFood We Eat Is Destroying the Climate System. Here's How to Fix It., The Verge, March 6, 2023, Everybody eats,” says Catherine Ivanovich, lead author of the new research and a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University. Considering the environmental impact of our food is “important as we look into the future in terms of supporting a global population, while also maintaining a secure climate future,” she says.

Meat,Dairy and Rice Production Will Bust 1.5C Target, Study ShowsGuardian (UK), March 6, 2023, “Methane has this really dominant role in driving the warming associated with the food systems,” said Catherine Ivanovich, at Columbia University in the US, who led the research. “Sustaining the pattern [of food production] we have today is not consistent with keeping the 1.5C temperature threshold.

“We're in an Emergency”Manhattan Times, March 5, 2023, Story on a panel with Diana Hernandez, Cecelia Sorensen, Radley Horton.

US coastal wetlands are rapidly disappearing. Here's what it'll take to save themQuartz, March 1, 2023, “There’s a huge loss of sediment,” said Dorothy Peteet, a researcher at Columbia University and the NASA/Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which has investigated changes in landscapes since the 1700s around Jamaica Bay.

Whyhurricanes feel like they're getting more frequentNPR, February 27, 2023, "I think it's important for the public to take [this] seriously," says Adam Sobel, a climate scientist at Columbia University who was not involved in the new study. "The storms are getting stronger.


Without Changes, Global Food Systems May Drive World Beyond Climate Targets, Says Study By Columbia Climate School, March 6, 2023, “Production of meat, dairy, and rice are the leading sources of food-related emissions. Improved management practices and changes in diet could go a long way to addressing the issues.”

Ancient Eggshell Fragments Crack Giant Elephant Bird’s Life Secrets By Columbia Climate School, March 6, 2023, “In a region where skeletal fossils are poorly preserved, old eggshells are opening a window into the evolution, diet, and distribution of Madagascar’s extinct birds.”

Towering Wildfire Clouds Are Affecting the Stratosphere, and the Climate By Columbia Climate School, February 28, 2023, “Aircraft collecting data from clouds of smoke have revealed surprising effects of wildfires on the ground.”

Hello Friends,

Our graduate student cohort has been shining brightly lately. The Hydrology Committee of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) recently announced that Ludda Ludwig, a graduate student in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, won 2nd place for her presentation “Accounting for Complex Landscapes in Eddy Covariance Fluxes and Effects on Carbon Budgets when Scaling in Heterogeneous Tundra and Wetlands” at the 2023 AMS Annual Meeting 37th Hydrology Conference. Congratulations Ludda!

Congratulations also to DEES graduate student Kevin Schwarzwald who received an Outstanding Oral Presentation Award for his presentation “The Moist Static Energy Seasonal Cycle and the Horn of Africa Long and Short Rains”. This recognition was from the American Meteorological Society's 36th Conference on Climate Variability and Change. Congratulations Kevin!

Finally, congratulations to Jennifer Angel Amaya, a DEES graduate student in the Geochemistry Division, for winning an Outstanding Student Presentation Award (OSPA) for her presentation at the AGU 2022 Fall Meeting. Her talk title was “Field and Laboratory Analysis of the Mercury Content of Gold: Prelude to the Trial of a Premium to Artisanal Miners for Gold Concentrated without Mercury in Madre de Dios, Peru”.  Jennifer just found this out this week, as the AGU notification was lost in the ether somewhere!  Congratulations Jennifer!

On February 22, Lamont had the pleasure of hosting a reception in honor of Christopher H. Scholz, Professor Emeritus of Earth and Environmental at Science and of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, as well as Special Research Scientist in Seismology, Geology, and Tectonophysics for recently being elected to the National Academy of Engineering Class of 2023.  His election was in recognition of “developing experimental and theoretical studies on faulting and earthquake mechanics.”  Election to NAE is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer or scientist. It was really fun to hear the many testimonials to Chris from his colleagues.  A unifying theme was his incredible mentorship and support of early career researchers over a career that spanned more than half a century.  Congratulations Chris!

From congratulations to newsy bits I’ve been asked to pass on….

Kevin Krajick, Senior Editor for science news at the Columbia Climate School, asks that we give a shout-out and thanks to Michael Steckler, a Lamont Research Professor in MGG, as well as Felix Waldhauser, Lamont Research Professor in SGT, for the considerable time they devoted over the past weeks helping media understand the recent Turkey earthquake.  They fielded interviews with the BBC, NPR, the Wall St. Journal, Washington Post, and repeatedly with Fox News. Felix and Mike were also interviewed by Hurriyet, a major Turkish newspaper. 

Dr. Vicki Ferrini, the Lead PI of the NSF-funded INSPIRE Program, Dr. Coral Fernandez-Illescas, Director, Bridge to Ph.D. Program in STEM, and Andrea Jordan, the INSPIRE Program Manager, want you to know that Columbia University's Bridge to Ph.D. program is seeking mentors to host post-baccalaureate scholars working in the Earth and climate sciences from August 2023 to June 2025. The recently-funded INSPIRE program will provide financial support for four new Bridge to Ph.D. scholars per year. Additional information about serving as a mentor can be found here. If you are interested in this opportunity, please complete this brief interest survey by February 28.

On February 15, the Columbia Climate School Office of Research welcomed Ms. Linette Sandoval-Rzepka as Senior Manager in the pre-Award unit. In her new role, Linette will provide customer service-oriented pre-award research support, coordinate operations with leadership priorities, promote training, and track team outputs/reporting. Linette has an extensive amount of pre- and post-award grant management experience and experience working with teams to ensure successful grantsmanship. She has worked in this field for over 13 years, including in her positions at Columbia (Lamont’s Division of Marine Geology and Geophysics (11/15-01/22) and CUMC (Dept. of Dermatology (11/11-08/13) & Dept. of Psychiatry (02/22-Present)), NYU, and Stevens Institute. You may remember that Linette was nominated and selected for the 2020 Earth Institute Distinguished Staff Award, a testament to her skills, work ethic, and exemplary performance. Welcome back, Linette!

Finally, thank you to Arianna Varuolo-Clarke and the DEIA Standing Committee for organizing a campus Black History Month celebration happening after the colloquium today in the Monell Lobby.  I am sorry to miss it, but I will be giving a talk at Louisiana State University today. 

Have a peaceful weekend.  Mo



It's never been this warm in February. Here's why that's not a good thingCNN, February 23, 2023, “Whenever we get these events, we should always be thinking there’s the possibility or likelihood that human-induced climate change is increasing the likelihood of strange weather,” comments Richard Seager, a climate researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, told CNN.

The Most Important Rock in the World That No One Has Heard OfYoutube, February 22, 2023, I started my postdoc at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory last week under the direction of Maureen Raymo. We will study the environmental impacts of deep sea mining so humanity can avoid creating another apocalyptic environmental catastrophe.

Finding Climate History in the Rafters of New York City BuildingsEos , February 22, 2023, Feature on Lamont Tree Ring Lab project to study framing timbers from demolished buildings.

It's Never Been This Warm in FebruaryCBS News , February 22, 2023, "Whenever we get these events, we should always be thinking there's the possibility or likelihood that human-induced climate change is increasing the likelihood of strange weather," comments Richard Seager, a climate researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, told CNN. "The more it goes on, the more they can bring such tremendous damage."

Video Shows River Erosion in China, Not Turkey Earthquake AftermathAssociated Press, February 21, 2023 – syndicated, Yin, Gao, and Columbia University geophysicist Michael Steckler all agreed that the fissures in this part of China were created by river erosion, not earthquakes. “The Loess plateau is a thick layer of windblown dust from the last ice age that erodes fairly easily,” said Steckler, a marine geology and geophysics research professor.

New Earthquake Rocks TurkeyTimes of London Radio, February 20, 2023, Live interview with Lamont seismologist Michael Steckler

A real-time flood tracker is expanding to help New Yorkers during major stormsGothamist, February 16, 2023, “There are so many city agencies and other agencies like the MTA, where flooding has effects right down to the point that people die,” said Klaus Jacob, a geophysicist and climate expert at Columbia University’s Climate School who isn't involved with the project.

Empowering Testimonies to the Rise of Women in ScienceMedium, February 14, 2023, "Hidden female figures" who played transformative roles in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) disciplines like Marie Tharp, geologist and oceanographic cartographer who helped create the first scientific map of the Atlantic Ocean floor, Florence Nightingale, statistician, and founder.

Expert Urges Caution on Air Pollution After Ohio Train DerailmentVice, February 14, 2023, Features Lamont scientist Dan Westervelt

An Ancient New Jersey Forest Is Threatened by Sea-Level RiseNJ Spotlight News, February 14, 2023, “Coastal forests are so disturbed to begin with, from human development, salt air, and saltwater intrusion,” said Nicole Davi, chair of the Department of Environmental Science at William Paterson University and senior research scientist at the Tree-Ring Laboratory at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Geophysicist: Turkey Earthquake Ruptured 130-Mile-Long Section of FaultFox Weather, February 8, 2023, Interview with Lamont scientist Michael Steckler

Rare and Revealing: Radiocarbon in Service of PaleoceanographyAGU's Eos, February 7, 2023, Radiocarbon has been used to investigate marine carbon cycle changes for decades, building to a large extent on the pioneering work of Wally Broecker.

Here's what we know about what caused the Turkey earthquakeNPR, February 7, 2023, "Arabia has slowly been moving north and has been colliding with Turkey, and Turkey is moving out of the way to the west," says Michael Steckler of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

What Caused the Magnitude 7.8 Earthquake in Turkey?Yahoo News, February 7, 2023, Arabia has slowly been moving north and has been colliding with Turkey, and Turkey is moving out of the way to the west," Michael Steckler of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory told NPR. The plate has been moving approximately 11 millimeters per year and has, for thousands of years caused earthquakes in the area.

Melting Glaciers Show Why Climate Targets Below 1.5 Degrees Are NeededTruthout, February 7, 2023, William Ruddiman is a paleoclimatologist professor emeritus at the University of Virginia who spent most of his career at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. He first began publishing the Early Anthropocene Hypothesis in 2003.

Coastal Communities Are Under Threat From Greenland Ice MeltingGeographical (UK), February 7, 2022, Feature on work of Lamont-Doherty team studying dropping coastal sea levels around Greenland

Finally! A reason to celebrate dustNational Observer, February 7, 2023, “There are all these different factors that play into the role of mineral dusts in our atmosphere,” said Gisela Winckler, a climate scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. “This is the first review of its kind to really bring all these different aspects together.”

Turkey Death Toll RisesFox News, February 7, 2023, Interview with CCS/Lamont scientist Michael Steckler (no weblink--live TV interview)

Rivers in the sky prevent the seasonal recovery of Arctic sea , February 6, 2023, “When this kind of moisture transport happens in the Arctic, the effect is not only the amount of rain or snow that falls from it, but also the powerful melting effect on the ice,” said study co-author Mingfang Ting, a professor at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University.

Powerful "Atmospheric River" Storms Are Slowing Arctic Sea Ice RecoveryIFL Science, February 6, 2023, “When this kind of moisture transport happens in the Arctic, the effect is not only the amount of rain or snow that falls from it, but also the powerful melting effect on the ice,” said co-author Mingfang Ting, a professor at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University. 

Atmospheric Rivers Hinder the Recovery of Arctic Sea IceEuropapress, February 6, 2023 – syndicated, A study coauthored by Lamont scientist Mingfang Ting

The Arctic Loses More Ice in Winter Because of Atmospheric Rivers Carrying StormsLa Vanguardia (Spain), February 6, 2023, A study coauthored by Lamont scientist Mingfang Ting

How Does Climate Change Threaten Global Food Production?Climate Context, February 3, 2023, Coauthored by Lamont adjunct Kai Kornhuber


New Partnership Invites Black Students to Explore the High Seas By Marie DeNoia Aronsohn, February 21, 2023, "The STEMSEAS program is partnering with historically Black colleges and universities to brainstorm new ideas and networks for increasing diversity in the geosciences and providing opportunities for undergraduate students."

Q&A With French Geophysicist and 2020 Vetlesen Prize Winner Anny Cazenave By Olga Rukovets, February 10, 2023, “For the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, world-renowned geophysicist Anny Cazenave discusses her research journey, the Vetlesen Prize, and her hopes for younger women scientists entering the field.”

Cataloging the Past for Clues to Future Climate Adaptation By Olga Rukovets, February 7, 2023, “A Q&A with archaeologist and anthropologist Kristina Douglass, who studies the evolving relationships between people and the environment.”

More Frequent Atmospheric Rivers Are Hindering the Recovery of Arctic Sea Ice By Columbia Climate School, February 6, 2023, “Giant trains of warm, moist air are playing havoc with Arctic Sea ice during the season when it should be recovering from summer melting.”

Waters of Long Island Sound: How Local Perspectives Inform Ecological Research By Shangtong Li, February 1, 2023, “By sharing their day-to-day experiences and deep knowledge of the local environment, fishermen and residents of the Long Island Sound provide crucial information for researchers studying coastal ecosystems health.”

Hello Friends,

Although I am sure this will be old news to some by now, it was with great pleasure that I announced on January 24th that Prof. David Kohlstedt of the University of Minnesota is the winner of the 2023 Vetlesen Prize.  Recognized as one of the highest honors in the Earth sciences and accompanied by a $250,000 cash prize and a gold medal, the Vetlesen Prize is awarded every three years “for scientific achievement resulting in a clearer understanding of the Earth, its history, or its relations to the universe.” Prof. Kohlstedt’s research has recreated the mantle’s temperature, pressure, and chemical conditions in the lab, allowing the observation of what happens on microscopic levels, thus permitting the scaling-up of the results to solve major problems in the geosciences. Dr. Kohlstedt’s findings underlie much of modern geophysics, structural geology, volcanology, seismology, glaciology, and even the study of other planets.

Once more, we received a few dozen highly distinguished nominations, which were reviewed and evaluated by a committee of seven renowned scientists appointed by Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger. The prize will be given at a formal award ceremony and dinner hosted in the Low Library rotunda in April. The ceremony and dinner will also honor the 2020 recipient, Dr. Anny Cazenave, Emeritus Scientist at the Laboratoire d’Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiales in Toulouse, France. You may recall we had to postpone the ceremony in her honor in the early chaotic days of the pandemic. I am also excited to share that both Laureates will give a lecture at Lamont.  You will soon receive a save-the-date.

In other prize news, both Dorothy Peteet and Lorenzo Polvani were elected AAAS Fellows recently!  Dorothy, a Senior Research Scientist at NASA/Goddard Institute for Space Studies and SRS and Director of the Paleoecology group of the New Core Lab at Lamont, and Lorenzo Polvani, Maurice Ewing and J. Lamar Worzel Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and OCP Division at Lamont were both honored for their scientific achievements by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Congratulations, Dorothy and Lorenzo!

Furthermore, on January 10th, the American Meteorological Society's Committee on Climate Variability and Change posthumously awarded Dr. Lisa Goddard, the former Director of IRI, the 2023 Outstanding Service Award at a memorial symposium in her honor at the 2023 AMS Annual Meeting. Dr. Goddard was recognized for her "pioneering translation of climate forecasts to decision-makers across the world and transforming the concept of climate services." David Cooperburg, Lisa's husband, received the certificate in her honor.  Close followers of Lamont news may recall that this same committee also honored Dr. Mingfang Ting, an LRP in the OCP Division, with the 2021 Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award as well as Dr. Suzana Camargo, also an LRP in OCP, with the 2020 Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award.  Heady times up here on top of the sill!

But wait, there’s more, lots more!  Congratulations to Dr. Yves Moussallam, Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences in the Geochemistry Division at Lamont who was awarded the Wager Medal by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior (IAVCEI). The Wager Medal is given every two years to a scientist who has made outstanding contributions to volcanology, notably in the eight years preceding the award and up to 15 years after receiving a Ph.D.  From volcano colleague Terry Plank, “[this] is a huge honor—arguably the top international award for an early/middle career volcanologist.”

In addition, senior digital archivist Robert Downs of CIESIN has received the 2023 Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) Martha E. Maiden Award for lifetime achievement advancing the Earth science information field. Bob is a senior staff associate and acting head of cyberinfrastructure and informatics research and development at CIESIN. He publishes on a wide cross-section of subjects including the development and scientific impact of data systems, digital libraries, and repositories, digital preservation, as well as data management, policy, and confidentiality.

Finally (so many honors!), a paper on flood-induced displacement and social conflict co-authored by Fabien Cottier, a CIESIN postdoctoral research scientist, has received the 2022 International Geneva (IG) Award from the Swiss Network of International Studies (SNIS). In July 2022 Fabien joined CIESIN, where he is involved in two multidisciplinary projects that examine the drivers of migration flows in West Africa and Central America. Prior to moving to CIESIN, he was affiliated with the Ocean Climate Physics division at LDEO.  Nice job Fabien!

Sometimes when I’m writing these updates, I am just in awe of the spectrum of talent we have on this campus.  I feel so privileged to be working in this community of scholars passionate about making a difference in the world.  This brings me to my last item.  Please Save-the-Date for a special symposium in honor of one of the true superstars of Lamont, Dr. Robert Anderson.  On July 23-25, 2023, the Geochemistry Division will host a three-day symposium: "Advances in Marine Biogeochemistry: Celebrating the Career of Bob Anderson."  Bob, the Ewing-Lamont Research Professor in LDEO’s Geochemistry Division, is one of the kindest, most modest, and understated colleagues I know, but he is a global scientific force of the highest magnitude.  The planning committee includes Jerry McManus, Yan Zheng, Gideon Henderson, Karen Kohfeld, Zanna Chase, Christopher Hayes, Annie Leal, and Martin Fleisher. For more details and to register, please visit the event website.

With that, I wish you all a chilly but safe weekend.  Best, Mo



 Drowning in Seaweed: How to Stop Invasive SargassumNature Video, February 1, 2023, Interview with Lamont scientist Ajit Subramaniam.

Tonga Volcanic Eruption Obliterated an Island Near It, Along With Life Forms Never Seen BeforeThe Science Times, January 31, 2023, Vicki Ferrini, a geologist from Columbia University who has been examining the island with NASA researchers, said that there is a massive quantity of material from the new island and possibly even more than at Surtsey.

A Press Release That Is a Joy to ReadCosmos (Australia), January 26, 2023, A short review on a press release about the Vetlesen Prize.

Is the Earth's Core Spinning on the Opposite Direction?Nature World News, January 25, 2023, In 1996, the first indications of the inner core's varying rotation began to appear. Paul Richards, a geophysicist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, and Song, who was at Lamont-Doherty at the time, published research showing that for three decades, the time it took seismic waves from earthquakes to travel through the solid core of the Earth varied.

Professor Emeritus David Kohlstedt Receives Vetlesen Prize, the 'Nobel of the Earth Sciences'University of Minnesota News, January 25, 2023, Article on the 2023 Vetlesen Prize Award

Earth's Inner Core Seems to Be Slowing Its SpinWashington Post, January 23, 2023, Paul Richards, a seismologist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, worked with Song to put forward the initial evidence that the core was spinning faster than the rest of the planet. “This is not something that’s going to affect the price of potatoes tomorrow,” Richards said. But the debate speaks to more-profound questions about Earth’s formation and how its inner layers support life on its surface, something that may aid studies of habitability on rocky planets circling other stars. “When you think … what our planet consists of and what its history is,” Richards said, “a deep understanding of the inner core gets you into ‘How did all these divisions of planet Earth evolve?”.

Earth's Inner Core May Be Reversing Its SpinScience News, January 23, 2023, Evidence for the inner core’s fluctuating rotation first emerged in 1996. Geophysicist Paul Richards of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y., and Song, then also at Lamont-Doherty, reported that over a span of three decades, seismic waves from earthquakes took different amounts of time to traverse Earth’s solid heart.

Ice Between Two Antarctic Glaciers Is CollapsingDaily Kos, January 23, 2023, One final thought on repercussions from the unraveling of the Amundsen Sea Embayment, Marco Tedesco of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Columbia University points out that sea-level rise will not be the only harbinger of doom the "melting of the glacier and its ice shelf is worrisome because it will add freshwater to the Southern Ocean which will have "strong repercussions on currents and ocean circulation."

Sending Signals to Droids Through Ice on Ocean WorldsAstrobiology, January 22, 2023, The STI team performed these tests using a cryogenic biaxial deformation apparatus at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) (see Figure 3a). By testing in a laboratory setting that simulates a relevant ocean world environment, the team characterized two tethers’ shear strengths under conditions similar to ice faults on Europa.

Study Shows New York’s Greenery Helps Offset Carbon EmissionsNY1, January 19, 2023, Article on research by Lamont scientists Dandan Wei and Róisín Commane.


Waters of Long Island Sound: How Local Perspectives Inform Ecological Research By Shangtong Li, February 1, 2023, “By sharing their day-to-day experiences and deep knowledge of the local environment, fishermen and residents of the Long Island Sound provide crucial information for researchers studying coastal ecosystems health.”

What Is Blue Carbon and How Can It Help Fight Climate Change? By Olga Rukovets, January 25, 2023, “Researchers at Columbia Climate School discuss the benefits and challenges of working with carbon from ocean and coastal ecosystems.”

Explorer of Deep Earth Wins Vetlesen Prize By Kevin Krajick, January 24, 2023, “Using sophisticated equipment, David Kohlstedt has recreated the pressure, temperature and chemical conditions in the Earth’s mantle, which humans cannot observe directly. His findings have laid the basis for understanding many of the processes that drive the planet’s dynamics.”

Hello Friends and Happy New Year!

Welcome to the beginning of a new semester as the days get longer and we continue to wonder where the snow went.  Upstate apparently!  And of course, the big news is Wednesday’s announcement of a new president of Columbia University, Nemat “Minouche” Shafik, who will begin her term on July 1st.  President Shafik is an economist who has devoted her life to advancing solutions for a sustainable future and I can’t imagine a better choice for our university or our campus.  Please tap into any media channel at the university to learn more about her impressive background and distinguished career.

Equally exciting, yesterday, President Shafik visited the Lamont campus for the morning as part of a whirlwind tour of the four campuses of the University that launched shortly after the announcement Wednesday morning.  She was accompanied by her husband Raffael Jovine, founder and chief scientist of Brilliant Planet, Columbia Trustee and Climate School supporter Mark Gallogly, along with Amelia Alverson, Executive Vice-President for University Development and Alumni Relations, and Gerry Rosberg, Senior Executive Vice President of the University.  We were asked to organize a low-key “light touch” tour.

President Shafik met with a small cross-section of our scientists and students working on and advancing nature-based solutions to carbon dioxide removal, knowledge co-production with local and indigenous communities, climate services, and of course, the Core Repository with a special focus on the mineral wealth of the international seabed. To have the new President make our campus the second stop on her Columbia tour was quite exciting, and I thank many of the individuals across the campus that made this visit such a success. 

From new beginnings to notable endings, I was terribly sad to learn that Sister Pat Daly, a former Lamont Advisory Board Member, passed away recently. She was such an inspiring and loving person.  Sister Pat was a Dominican nun and former executive director of the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment.  She was recruited as an LDEO Advisory Board member by Mike Purdy in 2010 and was a loyal supporter of the Observatory until the Board’s dissolution in 2020. She was a great friend of our planet, an early champion for environmental justice, and a passionate fighter for the many against the titans of the corporate world, including Exxon, where she was on the Board representing shareholders. A climate activist, when asked how she could justify being on the board of one of the largest oil companies in the world, she said that it was important to have protestors outside the door, but also people sitting at the boardroom table trying to effect change from within the system.  She proved that that was possible.  Obituaries marking her passing appeared in both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

On behalf of Lamont Research Professor Einat Lev, I’d like you to please consider volunteering as a judge for Terra NYC STEM Fair. "Terra Science and Education provides middle and high school students the opportunity to engage in authentic scientific research or engineering practice and to share their experiences and findings with others in an ISEF-affiliated science and engineering fair."  Einat adds, "I always found the interaction with the incredible young talent at the fair to be very inspiring!"  Please reach out to Einat if you are interested.

I’ll end with a welcome and congratulations.  First, welcome to Alexandra Cristea-Platon, who recently joined the Ocean and Climate Physics division as their new Administrative Assistant. She previously worked at Plastimach Corp. as a finance administrator and also has experience as an office manager. Alex will be assisting with all the administrative requests, including travel planning and expense reimbursements, and can be reached at [email protected].

Next, congratulations to Dr. Dylan Davis, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Climate School working with Professor Kristina Douglass in the Biology and Paleo Environment Division at Lamont, who is the recipient of one of the 25 new NSF postdoctoral fellowship awards to early-career scientists in the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences. Dylan is investigating how small-scale subsistence economies—including fishing, foraging, and herding—impact vegetation and soil health over long time scales. The project draws on methods and theories in the geosciences, anthropology, and complex systems science to explore these human-land relationships. Dylan is developing new remote sensing and machine learning approaches for identifying legacies of human land use and improving our understanding of how human communities co-evolve with the landscapes they inhabit.

Lots of great readings are to be found below.  Wishing you a peaceful weekend as the days continue to lengthen.  Yay!!!

Best, Mo




How New York City's Trees and Shrubs Help Clear Its AirNew York Times, January 18, 2023, Story on research authored by Lamont scientists Dandan Wei and Róisín Commane

Geochemist Leads All-Woman Team Into AntarcticaPratt Tribune, January 17, 2023, The team led by Marissa Tremblay, Assistant Professor at Purdue University’s College of Science, included her doctoral student Emily Apel, who is focusing on this research as part of her dissertation; geologist Jennifer Lamp of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, who oversaw the weather and temperature instruments; and geochemist Marie Bergelin of the Berkeley Geochronology Center, who sampled rocks and helped install the instruments.

Atmospheric Dust May Have Hidden True Extent of Global WarmingGuardian, January 16, 2023, “There are all these different factors that play into the role of mineral dusts in our atmosphere,” said Gisela Winckler, a climate scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. “This is the first review of its kind to really bring all these different aspects together.”

Climate disasters cost the U.S. more than $165 billion in 2022Fast Company, January 15, 2023, In some ways, yes, but there are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to hurricanes, explained climate scientists Matthew Barlow of UMass-Lowell and Suzana Camargo of Columbia University.

Air Quality Much Worse in Subway Stations Near River TunnelsGothamist, January 13, 2022, How concerned subway riders should be about particle pollution in their stations is not yet fully understood, said Steven Chillrud, director of the Exposure Assessment Facility Core of Columbia University's Center for Environmental Health and professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. He said more research is needed to fully understand its health impacts and advised anyone concerned to wear a properly fitting mask.

15 Years Ago, a Spacecraft Swung by Mercury to Beat the Sun's GravityInverse, January 13, 2022, Sean Solomon, the principal investigator of the MESSENGER mission and former director / current adjunct senior research scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, tells Inverse that the challenge isn’t so much getting to Mercury but getting into orbit.

Tree Rings Solve Mystery of 19th Century ShipwreckColumbia Magazine, January 08, 2022, Research from Lamont Tree Ring Lab

2022 Was Officially Tampa's Warmest Year on RecordWTSP, January 11, 2023
In the past 80 years, Tampa's annual average temperature has risen by 2.1 degrees. That's alarming considering that about 9 degrees separate the modern earth from the last ice age, which ended nearly 15,000 years ago, according to Peter de Menocal, a paleoclimate scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York.

The following seven articles are on a "Greenery Absorbs Carbon" study by Lamont researchers Róisín Commane and Dandan Wei:

City Greenery Absorbs More Carbon Than Thought: Columbia StudyBrooklyn Eagle, January 9, 2023

New York City Greenery Absorbs Vast Amounts of, January 9, 2023

NYC's Greenery Eats Up All Emissions From Its Cars, Trucks and Buses, 'And Then Some'Futurism, January 6, 2023

New York City's Hidden Greenery Has a Surprising Impact on Carbon EmissionsStudy Finds, January 6, 2023

New York City Greenery Absorbing All Traffic Emissions on Many Summer Days,Yale e360, January 6, 2023

NYC's Greenery Surprisingly Captures All Emissions From Vehicles in CityZME Science, January 6, 2023

New York City's Vehicle Emissions Get Absorbed By Its Greenery on Many Summer DaysEcowatch, January 6, 2020

No Rain, No Grain: Texas Admits the Problem Is RealDaily Kos, January 5, 2023, "Powell talked eloquently about the 100th meridian, and this concept of a boundary line has stayed with us down to the current day," said Richard Seager, a climate scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and lead author of both papers. "We wanted to ask whether there really is such a divide, and whether it's influenced human settlement."

We're finally getting close-up, fearsome views of the doomsday glacierPopular Science, January 5, 2023, Stanley Jacobs, an oceanographer at Columbia University in the City of New York, thought the ocean might be involved. He knew of Hughes's work and, in 1991, had published a paper urging "icebreaker penetration and detailed oceanographic sampling" of the "largely unknown" Amundsen Sea.

How We Came to Know and Fear the Doomsday Glacier | Hakai MagazineHakai Magazine, January 3, 2023, Stanley Jacobs, an oceanographer at Columbia University in the City of New York, thought the ocean might be involved.

Global warming myths, disinformation and lies circulated in 2022USA Today, December 29, 2022, "In other words, we are stuck with fossil fuels and there are no good alternatives, so burn baby burn," said Jason Smerdon, a professor of climate physics at Columbia University in New York.

Marie Tharp pioneered mapping the bottom of the ocean 6 decades ago,Yahoo News, December 27, 2022, Marie Tharp, born in 1920, was a geologist and oceanographer who created maps that changed the way people imagine two-thirds of the world. After working for an oil company in Oklahoma, Tharp sought a geology job at Columbia University in 1948. Women couldn't go on research ships, but Tharp could draft and was hired to assist male graduate students.

The Deep: Exploring Earth's Last FrontierWorld Science Festival, December 22, 2022, Features Lamont oceanographer Vicki Ferrini.

Drilling Into Greenland's PastAGU TV, December 22, 2022, Features Lamont scientists Joerg Schaefer and Gisela Winckler.

A Cathedral Tried to Approach Heaven, But the Earth Held a Deep SecretNew York Times, December 22, 2022, However, Manhattan's schist is riddled with fissures through which water can flow. "We're talking about relatively thin openings — not something a person could splash through," said William H. Menke, a geologist at Columbia University.

Earth Is Not Proven Flat by 'Massive Underwater Wall'Lead Stories, December 22, 2022, "What you are looking at is an accidentally introduced seam in a grid, or a map, of the ocean floor," Hayley Drennon, a senior research assistant at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, told Lead Stories in an email on December 21, 2022. "Seafloor mappers often 'clip' data so that we may more accurately overlay mapping information on systems like Google Earth."


The Paradox of Lithium By Marco Tedesco, January 18, 2023, The clean energy transition depends heavily on lithium, but mining this element is not “clean.” We must not fall into the same traps from which we are trying to free ourselves.

Flooding in California: What Went Wrong, and What Comes Next By Sarah Fetch, January 12, 2023, Climate School experts help to explain this devastating weather and what it means in the broader conversation of climate change and disaster response.

What Uncertainties Remain in Climate Science? By Renee Cho, January 12, 2023, Climate scientists are still uncertain about a number of phenomena that could affect our future. What are the reasons for this uncertainty?

Spring 2023 Student Research Opportunities By Yana Zeltser, January 11, 2023, The Climate School is offering three new research assistant opportunities during the Spring 2023 semester. Students from Columbia will be able to serve as research assistants on projects related to climate and sustainable development and the environment with distinguished faculty and researchers at the cutting edge of this burgeoning field. Each research position is described below.

New York City's Greenery Absorbs a Surprising Amount of Its Carbon Emissions By Kevin Krajick, January 5, 2022, A hyper-local study of vegetation shows that the city’s trees and grass often cancel out all the CO2 released from cars, trucks, and buses on summer days.

Year in Review: Our Top Stories of 2022 By Columbia Climate School, December 22, 2022, A list of some of our most popular articles and videos, plus some of our favorites that you shouldn’t miss.

2022 Climate News You Should Know By Elise Gout, December 19, 2022, Climate School experts weigh in on the past year’s most noteworthy events and developments within their fields.

2022 Director's Reports

Hello Friends,

It’s been a busy month and we are all overdue for a nice holiday break.  As we take delight in the fact that the days are now getting longer, we can also reflect on a month and year of accomplishments at LDEO.  At AGU last week there was much to feel proud of including our many fellows, medalists, and awardees, reported in this newsletter earlier this year.  Our alumni reception was a great success and I send thanks to the development team for organizing the event.  Many alumni and staff were also at the AGU awards event and banquet and I was honored to share a table with our Fleming medalist Dennis Kent, new AGU fellow Spahr Webb, and their guests.  In addition to meeting with a number of Lamont donors and foundations last week, I also met with a young high school group sponsored by the Comer Foundation.  On top of many inspiring talks, including alumni Benjamin Keisling speaking about the Second National Conference: Justice in Geoscience in the Grand Ballroom at the Convention Center, it was a busy and rewarding AGU conference.

Here on campus, Michael Steckler, Lamont Research Professor in Marine Geology and Geophysics, recently hosted a group from the Bangladesh Ministry of Water Resources, Water Development Board, and Institute of Water Modeling, to learn about the work we, and others at Columbia, are doing on land subsidence, environmental change and climate change in Bangladesh—and to learn about what New York is doing to prepare for climate change. 

Following up on another recent meeting, on December 18, The Athletic (owned by NY Times) published a piece by guest writer Samantha Mewis on her experience at the “Soccer in a Warming World” workshop hosted by the Climate School at Lamont.  Samantha, an American professional soccer player on the United States Women's National Team, wrote about the potential impact of climate change on sports in a warming world.

Lamont Research Professor Dan Westervelt recently let us know that graduate student Garima Raheja just received a 2022 Women in Science Incentive Award, "a grant program that recognizes innovative female scientists working on solutions to the most pressing environmental issues of our time." Garima Raheja is a third year Ph.D. student and she is interested in air quality and climate change in urban environments. She has worked on using air sensors to characterize air pollution in under monitored areas, ranging from Ghana and Togo (Africa) and rural Ohio and New York City. She is an NSF Graduate Research Fellow where she is working to develop novel means of calibration of air sensors in order to further democratize air pollution data and mitigate health impacts.  Congratulations Garima!!!

More congratulations go to two newly minted Ph.D.s.  On December 7, graduate student Marina Gemma defended her Ph.D. thesis on “Asteroid Compositions and Planet-Forming Environments: Insights from Spectral and Geochemical Characterization of Chondritic Meteorites”.  Marina has accepted a postdoctoral position at Stony Brook University studying lunar spectroscopy. On December 12, graduate student Daniel Babin defended his Ph.D. thesis on "Mid-Pleistocene to Present southeast African hydroclimate and deep-water regime". I’m delighted to report that Daniel will be staying at Lamont and starting a post-doc studying the sedimentary carbon budget in manganese nodule fields on the seafloor.

As we end 2022, we also say good-bye and rest in peace to two former Lamonters who passed away recently.  Our WHOI colleague Jim Ledwell, a world leader in deep-ocean tracer release experiments and a giant in the field of physical oceanography, passed away on November 29.  Jim's obituary can be found at:  Jim worked at Lamont from 1985 to 1990.  We also lost Mary Ann Garland who worked in Marine Geophysics as Dennis Hayes’s administrative assistant for almost 20 years.  She passed away on November 24.

Finally, thank you to everyone who contributed goods to our holiday food drive. Katherine Rife and Katherine Berry of the Soup Angels in Nyack send their deepest thanks.  From them, “on behalf of the many families with children, senior citizens, new immigrants, men and women, teens alone, disabled, underemployed, and unhoused persons we serve, we send our sincere appreciation.  Your gifts have made finding food easier for many in our Nyack community and beyond.”

Wishing everyone a peaceful and relaxing holiday with friends and family. 

Best, Mo 



American hunger crisis deepens with extreme winter weatherAxios, December 19, 2022, State of play: This is just one of the climate impacts on agricultural production that the U.S. is seeing as the world continues to warm, according to Corey Lesk, a climate scientist and research associate at Dartmouth College and Columbia University's Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences ’22 Ph.D. graduate.

Sam Mewis: Climate change, player safety and the 2026 World Cup,The Athletic, December 18, 2022, This past November, I co-hosted a workshop at Columbia University’s Climate School that focused on the effects that a warming climate will have on the sporting world. We discussed policy change that could aid in protecting the environment, the need for further research on how extreme heat affects athletic performance, and the opportunity to use sports as a lens through which to address the multitude of issues that climate change presents. According to the Columbia Climate School, “Human activity has already warmed the planet 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels.” The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns of “tipping points” that will occur if we exceed 1.5-2°C of global warming.

With Major Prize, a Project to Turn Carbon Emissions to Stone Gains MomentumEnvironmental News Network, December 16, 2022, Geologist Peter Kelemen surveys an outcrop of exposed mantle rock in Oman. The light material is a carbon-based mineral that has reacted with the rock to form a solid deposit.

What's Wrong With These Climate Models?Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, December 16, 2022, “If you have ever looked at [sea surface temperature] linear trend over the past 40 years, since 1979, where we have the set of products with a more accurate [sea surface temperature] estimate, you can see everywhere is warming—of course not uniformly,” Yue Dong, a postdoctoral research scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, and one of the primary authors of a recent paper on this topic, said.

Hawaiian volcanoes suddenly go quiet, but scientists don't know exactly whyThe Washington Post, December 13, 2022, "We're getting better at forecasting the onset of eruptions because we have so much more data now," said Einat Lev, an associate research professor at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. "We're not making that much progress on predicting the end."

Tempted to joke about global warming amid a blizzard? Here's what experts say about that.USA Today, December 13, 2022, "Global warming will not stop the seasons, but it is causing long-term trends in winter conditions that are robust and accelerating," said Jason Smerdon, a climate physicist at Columbia University.

Hawaii's Mauna Loa and Kilauea volcanoes keep spewing lava with no end in sight. Here's what could happen nextCNN, December 7, 2022, "In some cases, Mauna Loa flows have traveled as far as Hilo and South Kona, so there certainly might be exposure of communities to lava," said Einat Lev, an associate research professor in seismology, geology, and tectonophysics at Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

All You Need to Know About DinosaursScience Focus, December 7, 2022, “Severe wintry episodes during volcanic eruptions may have brought freezing temperatures to the tropics, which is where many of the extinctions of big, naked, unfeathered vertebrates seem to have occurred,” explained study co-author Dr. Dennis Kent, a geologist based at Lamont-Doherty.

Mauna Loa Eruption Threatens a Famous Climate RecordNew York Times, December 2, 2022, The Keeling Curve, over time, disproved that idea. It began to reveal just how much carbon dioxide the land and the oceans were capable of absorbing, said Maureen E. Raymo, director of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University and co-founding dean of the Columbia Climate School.

Country Not at Risk of Major Earthquake, Expert SaysDaily Star (Bangladesh, December 2, 2022, The 2016 study, titled "Locked and loading megathrust linked to active subduction beneath the Indo-Burman Ranges", by Michael Steckler -- a geophysicist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University -- mentioned that the northeastern corner of the Indian subcontinent is actively colliding with Asia, potentially posing a risk of an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.2 to 9 in the region.

Soccer in a Warming World conference connects sports and climate changeColumbia Spectator, November 29, 2022, Thirty miles north of Columbia’s Morningside campus, Columbia Climate School hosted the Soccer in a Warming World conference in the Monell Auditorium, located at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. The event analyzed the effects of climate change around the world on soccer and those who play the sport.

Predicting the Earthquake That Could Wreck New YorkThe New Yorker, November 28, 2022, Article on work of Lamont geologist Bill Menke

Dust transport in the upper levels of the atmosphereScienceDaily, November 23, 2022, In addition to the researchers from the University of Oldenburg's Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment, a scientist from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven and another scientist from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory … at Columbia University in New York State participated in the study.

The next 13 articles are on a study of 2021 Western North America Heat Wave by Samuel Bartusek, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, et al.

A study offers new insights into the record 2021 Western North America heat wave: Combined unusual weather systems, supercharged by climate changeScienceDaily, November 30, 2022, "It was so extreme, it's tempting to apply the label of a 'black swan' event, one that can't be predicted," said lead author Samuel Bartusek, a Ph.D. student at the Columbia Climate School's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Climate Change Caused Last Summer's Heat Dome--And Extreme Weather Will Only Get More Likely, Says StudyGeorgia Straight (Canada), November 30, 2022, Study of 2021 Western North America Heat Wave

The 2021 Pacific Northwest heat wave was a harbinger of what's to come, study finds
Axios, November 28, 2022, The wavy jet stream pattern, itself tied to climate change, helped give rise to a record-strong heat dome that parked itself over British Columbia and the Northwest U.S. in early summer. … “The background warming, the atmospheric dynamics, and the soil moisture deficiency interacted in a way that amplified this event beyond a normal extreme,” study coauthor Kai Kornhuber, a senior fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations, tells Axios in an interview. … What they're saying: "Our study supports a very direct conclusion that extreme heat like this will only become more and more likely — both in this region and across the globe, especially where heat stress is already extremely high — as more fossil fuels are burned," lead author Samuel Bartusek of Columbia.

A New Study Reveals the Back Story of the Deadly 2021 Western North America Heat DomeDaily Kos, November 27, 2022

Climate Change Could Make Rare Heatwaves Commonplace by 2050KJZZ, November 27, 2022

2021 Western North America Heat Wave Had Multiple Causes, Including Climate ChangeCourthouse News, November 26, 2022

Weather Systems Supercharged by Climate ChangeAZO Cleantech, November 25, 2022

49..6 in Canada? It Could Happen Every 10 YearsRinnovabili (Italy), November 25, 2022

Clean Energy Will Also Pollute: The Secret Is to Go FastEPE (Spain), November 25, 2022

What Caused the 2021 Heat Wave in Western North America?Earth, November 25, 2022

Climate Change Is Increasing the Frequency and Temperature of Heat WavesLos Angeles Times, November 24, 2022 – syndicated

We Can Now Blame Western Canada's Deadly Heat Dome on Climate ChangeToronto Star (Canada), November 24, 2022

A Study Offers New Insight Into the 2021 Heat Wave in Western North AmericaCanada Today, November 24, 2022

Building Green Energy Facilities May Emit Substantial Amounts of CarbonEnvironmental News Network, November 22, 2022

Transition to Clean Energy Will Lead to Notable Carbon Emissions, First-of-Its-Kind Study SaysABP Live, November 22, 2022

How Much Do You Have to Emit to Not Emit?Kopalniawiedzy (Poland), November 22, 2022

Greenhouse Gases Are Emitted Even in Activities to Reduce Greenhouse GasesHani (South Korea), November 22, 2022

Building Renewables Emits Carbon. Building Them Faster Emits Far LessPV Magazine, November 21, 2022


2022 Climate News You Should Know By Elise Gout, December 19, 2022, "Climate School experts weigh in on the past year’s most noteworthy events and developments within their fields."

How Will a Warming Arctic Affect the Atlantic Lobster Fishery? By Columbia Climate School, December 14, 2022, "Changes in water temperature and circulation could have big impacts for a major fishery."

With Major Prize, a Project to Turn Carbon Emissions to Stone Gains Momentum By Kevin Krajick, December 12, 2022, "With the award of a 2022 Earthshot prize, new technology to remove carbon from the air by speeding up natural underground chemical reactions moves closer to reality."

Books for the Climate and Sustainability Enthusiasts in Your Life By Columbia Climate School, December 09, 2022, "Give the gift of deeper knowledge with these new books written by Columbia University scholars."

American Geophysical Union 2022: Key Research From the Columbia Climate School By Kevin Krajick, November 29, 2022, “A guide to some of the most provocative and groundbreaking talks at the world’s largest gathering of earth and space scientists.”

Marie Tharp, Who Mapped the Ocean Floor By Columbia Climate School, November 28, 2022, “Tharp co-published the first world map of the ocean floors and helped prove the theory of continental drift.”

A Study Offers New Insights Into the Record 2021 Western North America Heat Wave By Kevin Krajick, November 24, 2022, “Several weeks during summer 2021 saw heat records in the western United States and Canada broken not just by increments, but by tens of degrees, an event of unprecedented extremity. To what degree was it climate change, bad luck, or a combination?”

Iron-Rich Dust From South America Played Role in Last Two Glacial Periods, Says Study By Columbia Climate School, November 22, 2022, “Dust from the land that gets blown into the ocean appears to influence natural climate swings. A new study looks into where much of that dust came from in the past 260,000 years.”

What Did COP27 Accomplish? By Emily Halnon, November 22, 2022, “Delegates from Columbia Climate School discuss the achievements and shortfalls of COP27, as well as what took place outside the negotiation room.”

Hello Friends,  

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to thank again everyone who helped make last week’s workshop “Soccer in a Warming World” such a success.  That includes all our participating scientists and staff as well as our guests from other institutions and the many soccer players who showed up including members of the CU women’s soccer team and members of the Bergen County youth Vikings FC Soccer Club. Thanks most of all to the amazing professional soccer superstar and activist Samantha Mewis who provided the inspiration and motivation for this event.  My favorite moment was at the end of the event when the Bergen County Vikings FC youth players all said their new career goals were to be climate activists and scientists.  How awesome is that? 

Another fun thing that happened this week was the Google Doodle on featured Marie Tharp.  From the internet: “Google handles 3.8 million searches per minute on average across the globe.  That comes out to 228 million searches per hour, or 5.6 billion searches per day.” Talk about a global stage!  That is incredible exposure for Lamont and many thanks to Marian Mellin of our development team for being our point person on this project.  However, it always makes me sad that Marie Tharp never received the recognition she deserved while she was still alive. 

Lastly, I am also sad to share the news that Lamont alumna Debra Tillinger, passed away earlier this month. Debra attended Barnard College where she obtained a B.A. in Environmental Sciences and earned a Ph.D. in physical oceanography at Lamont in 2010 working with Arnold Gordon. Debra was a wonderful, positive thinking person and many will remember Debra for her dance performances.  To learn more about Debra, and see her ‘50 years of the Indonesian Throughflow’ dance, go to

Wishing everyone a lovely long Thanksgiving weekend.  Best, Mo 



Google Pays Tribute to American Geologist Marie TharpThe Hindu (India), November 21, 2022, Cites Marie Tharp. 

Who Is Marie Tharp? Google Celebrates Creator of the ‘World Ocean Floor Map’Newsweek, November 21, 2022 
Cites Marie Tharp. 

Today’s Google Doodle Celebrates the Life and Legacy of Geologist Marie Tharp, Who Helped Prove Plate TectonicsForbes, November 21, 2022  Cites Marie Tharp. 

Marie Tharp: Why Google Is Celebrating the US Geologist Who Discovered the Mid-Atlantic RidgeiNews (UK), November 21, 2022, Cites Marie Tharp. 

Google Doodle Celebrates Marie Tharp. Who Was She?MM News (Pakistan, November 21, 2022, Cites Marie Tharp. 

Google Doodle Celebrates Life of American Geologist and Oceanographic CartographerDevdi Discourse (India), November 21, 2022, Cites Marie Tharp. 

Google’s doodle features narrated slideshow on the Lamont scientistRepublic World (India), November 21, 2022, Cites Marie Tharp. 

Google Celebrates Life of Marie Tharp With Interactive Doodle, Times of India, November 21, 2022, Cites Marie Tharp. 

Who Was Marie Tharp, Ocean Floor Mapmaker?Opoyi (India), November 21, 2022, Cites Marie Tharp. 

Marie Tharp Created the First Seafloor Map. Her Ideas Were at First Considered ‘Girl Talk’Stern (Germany), November 21, 2022, Cites Marie Tharp. 

Google Launches Doodle to Remember Cartographer Marie TharpLa Republica, November 21, 2022, Cites Marie Tharp. 

Google Remembers Cartographer Marie Tharp With an Interactive DoodleNoticia al Dia (Venezuela), November 21, 2022, Cites Marie Tharp. 

Marie Tharp: Google Remembers the American Geologist With a DoodleEnikos (Greece), November 21, 2022, Cites Marie Tharp. 

A Climate Scientist’s Personal ReckoningBulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November 21, 2022, By Lamont scientist Adam Sobel 

La Nina to Continue Impacting World in 2022Al Bababa (Dubai), November 21, 2022, Quotes Lamont scientist Richard Seager 

Hoover Dam Brings Electricity to 1.3 Million-It's At Risk of Shutting DownNewsweek, November 18, 2022, In the 1990s, reservoir levels were at 100 percent, according to Richard Seager, a climate scientist at Columbia University. Now, levels hover around 30 percent. 

Detecting Smaller Earthquakes Could Improve Forecasting of Larger OnesTemblor, November 18, 2022, “[The study] is a creative way of integrating machine learning with what we know about relationships between fault size and earthquake magnitude. You cannot nucleate a magntidue-6.0 earthquake on a one-kilometer-long fault,” explains Folarin Kolawole, a structural geologist at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, who was not involved in the study. 

Stronger Rains in Warmer Climate Could Lessen Damage to Crops, Says Study,Crop For Life, November 18, 2022, “People have been talking about how more extreme rain will damage crops,” said lead author Corey Lesk, a Ph.D. student at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “ The striking thing we found was, the overall effect of heavier rains is not negative. It turns out to be good for crops.” 


Building Green Energy Facilities May Produce Substantial Carbon Emissions, Says Study By Kevin Krajick, November 21, 2022, Moving from fossil fuels to solar panels, wind turbines and other renewable energy sources will by itself create a new stream of carbon emissions with the construction so much new infrastructure. The good news: Speeding the transition would greatly reduce this effect. 

A Warming World Makes Soccer More Challenging By Sarah Fecht, November 18, 2022, With the World Cup nearly upon us, professional soccer player Samantha Mewis spoke with Climate School experts in an event focusing on how climate change is impacting sports. 

Photos, Tweets, and More: Columbia Climate School at COP27 By Columbia Climate School, November 17, 2022, Learn more about how Columbia Climate School has been advancing the conversation at the world’s most important climate change summit. 

Hello Friends,

Today we had a special event in Monell Auditorium, the annual Distinguished Alumni Lecture hosted by the Lamont Alumni Association and Lamont colloquium committee.  I am delighted to share that it was Prof. Mike Coffin, GSAS '85 and Professor at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania.  Mike may have been the very first person I ever met at Lamont.  In 1982, I walked in the front door of the Geoscience Building for my new job as a research technician (aka “bug picker”) for Andy McIntyre just as he was walking out of his lab directly opposite the entrance.  Even though we were in very different fields, our paths continually intersected throughout our careers, as we were both deeply involved in the Ocean Drilling Programs.  Mike’s talk was "Subduction Initiation along the Macquarie Ridge Complex, Southwest Pacific Ocean.”

Last week we hosted another Town Hall, following on the Climate School and DEIA focused town halls in Sept. and October.  This one was to present updates on campus facilities by Dean Pearce, Director of Capital Planning & Facilities Strategy, and the FY22 Budget by Angel Cherpanath, Director of Finance and Administration.  These presentations were followed by a discussion of issues surrounding post-pandemic Return-to-Campus led by Bill Menke, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences (DEES).  We had a huge turnout with 150 people attending in person or online.

Also returning last week after the “pandemic pause”, Lamont’s famous Chili Cook-off and Fun Run happened on Nov. 2nd.  Three cheers for Sam Chester (BPE) & Miriam Nielsen (GISS + OCP) who shared first place in the running category; the walking category first place went to Jing Yuan (IRI). The winners of the Chili Cook-Off were Laurel DiSera (DEES) for best dessert, Asher Siebert (IRI) for best veggie chili, and Greg Yetman (CIESIN) for best meat chili!  A huge collective thanks goes to Caroline Juang for designing a fantastic t-shirt, our Facilities Team, and all the volunteers. A special thanks to DEES graduate students Tess Walther and Claire Jasper for their enthusiasm in organizing these events and the Campus Life Committee for their generous funding!

 Also last week, Gisela Winckler, Lamont Research Professor in Lamont’s Geochemistry Division, participated in a Ship-to-Shore event at the Climate Museum’s Pop-up in SoHo. Audience members were treated to a Live-Tour of the R/V Joides Resolution which is currently drilling on the Iberian Margin.  The shipboard “tour guide” was our very own LDEO/DEES graduate student Celeste Pallone. The crowd enjoyed an excellent Q&A with Celeste while watching the arrival of a new sediment core (“core on deck!”) live with LDEO/DEES’ Jerry McManus, DEES Professor, and LDEO alumni Sophie Hines and Jimin Yu in the background.

From events past to events future, on Wednesday November 16th we will be hosting global soccer superstar Samantha Mewis at a workshop focused on "Soccer in a Warming World." The workshop will convene a diverse cross-section of scholars to address the implications of climate change for the most popular sport in the world. Samantha Mewis is an American professional soccer player currently playing as a midfielder for the Kansas City Current of the National Women's Soccer League as well as on the US Women's National Team. Co-sponsored by the Climate School Office of Research and LDEO, I hope you will join us in the Monell Auditorium from 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm and at the reception afterwards.  Please register here.

Also next week, on Tuesday evening November 15th, Lamont's Public Lecture Series presents "Can We Mimic Nature to Remove CO2 from the Atmosphere?" with Peter Keleman, Arthur D. Storke Memorial Professor in DEES.  The lecture starts at 7pm and will be preceded by a reception that begins at 6pm.  These events are focused on the public and the talks are always great—we appreciate any scientists that come and help mingle and talk with our neighbors and guests. 

Finally, looking ahead to December, save the date for another “Lamont Under the Stars Party” on December 7th.  We will have food, fun, music and cheer as we celebrate the season with colleagues and friends.  The following week Lamont will be hosting its AGU Fall Meeting party on Tuesday, December 13th.  Details to follow.

It seems crazy to me that the end of year holidays are almost upon us.  Where did 2022 go so quickly?   Wishing you all a peaceful weekend while I wrestle with this mystery.  

Best, Mo



Melting Arctic Ice in Greenland, CBS News, November 5, 2022, Features Lamont scientist Marco Tedesco.

Remains From a Wrecked Whaling Ship Identified in Argentina, Small State, Big History, November 5, 2022, Story on dendrochronology research by Lamont scientists Ed Cook, Mukund Rao.

Ecology Comes to Life for Middle School Students, Hudson Valley Times, November 3, 2022, The students and Science teachers Cody Weaver and Cornelia Harris took part in the 20th annual "Day in the Life of the Hudson River and Harbor" event, organized by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

The US Megadrought Won't Just End--It Will Change the Land, New Scientist, November 2, 2022, "The trend is toward a much more arid environment under global warming," says Jason Smerdon, a climate scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.

Finding safe haven in the climate change future: The Northeast, Yahoo News, October 29, 2022, air quality, especially in urban areas," the Environmental Protection Agency states on its website about the larger region, which includes Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia and the District of Columbia … "I feel that we're in a long-term denial and we are talking about resilience, but it's unsustainable," Klaus Jacob, a research scientist at Columbia University who also serves on the NPCC, told Yahoo News in 2019 about New York's effort to protect Lower Manhattan.

Superstorm Sandy: Lessons for Climate Resiliency Ten Years Later, Council on Foreign Relations, October 27, 2022, Panel with Lamont scientist Klaus Jacob.

The Push to Protect Ancient Trees—And the Information They Contain, AXIOS, October 27, 2022, "Old trees have seen a thing or two," says Brendan Buckley, a professor at the Tree Ring Lab at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University (LDEO), who studies the tree rings of tropical trees to reconstruct past droughts, monsoons, and other events. And tree rings are "so much more" than data, he says. "There's this real move lately to understand much better how trees actually grow" and "what's gone into making" the tree rings that give scientists the ability to reconstruct past climates.

Superstorm Sandy Leaves Long Insurance Legacy at 10 Years, Law 360, October 28, 2022, Mona Hemmati, a climate risk and catastrophe researcher at Columbia University's Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory.

A Decade Post-Sandy, New York Vulnerable As Ever, Barron's, October 27, 2022, Long before Superstorm Sandy devastated New York City and the surrounding region in 2012, scientist Klaus Jacob issued a prophetic report warning city leaders that such paralyzing flooding was imminent. "A week after Sandy I got a letter in the mail: 'Now you can raise it,'" recounted Jacob, a geophysicist at Columbia University specializing in disaster risk management…

The Grid: Reliability & Resiliency, Energy Central, October 26, 2022, A colleague of mine, Klaus Jacob of Lamont-Doherty, coined the term "Nomadic Infrastructure," back in 2013 and I have been exploring how to implement such portable and resilient systems for deployment in rural areas, as well as disaster sites…


COP27: Delegates From the Columbia Climate School Share Their Plans and Hopes By Columbia Climate School, October 31, 2022, A number of representatives from the Columbia Climate School will be attending the global climate summit in Egypt. Here's what they'll be up to, and what they hope to achieve.

Some of the Most Drastic Risks From Climate Change Are Routinely Excluded From Economic Models, Says Study By Columbia Climate School, October 27, 2022, Economic models are missing huge future risks from climate change, in part because no one knows how to quantify them, says a new study.

Hello Friends,

Wednesday was Columbia University’s Giving Day, our eleventh annual 24-hour fundraising event. Thanks to the generosity of Ed Botwinick and Vicki Brown, Lamont had a $100,000 challenge match that was met and surpassed. I am delighted to share that LDEO had its 2nd best Giving Day ever and received 172 gifts totaling $239,483. The Climate School and Lamont's combined efforts received a total of 321 gifts and $547,824. This success secured first place in the “Raising the Bar Challenge” for the percentage increase in the total number of gifts and second place in the overall dollar challenge for our group, earning us additional challenge funds. We are deeply grateful to all who contributed to support Lamont. And a very special thanks goes to the Development Team who led the Giving Day efforts and all the members of our community who contributed or participated.

Also this week, on October 24-25, Lamont hosted an in-person NSF-funded Geoscience Data Resources workshop. Led by Andrew Goodwillie, Data Systems Manager in the Marine Large Programs Divisionthe organizers strove to attract a diverse group of participants to the workshop—an astonishing 77 people applied from a wide range of higher education institutions across the nation. We were able to bring 36 of them to Lamont despite a small travel budget. You can enjoy a selected handful of photos from the workshop that highlight the diversity of the attendees.  #Dataforall!

Last week, in memory of Bruce Baez, who passed away in August 2021, Lamont Buildings and Grounds planted a Japanese Maple between the Core Lab Building and the big garage he called his shop. Andrew Reed wrote, "While it will not bring the infectious happiness that Bruce had, we hope that when you pass it, you, too, will smile."

Another event that might make you smile is the new Lamont Core Repertory jam series, sponsored by Campus Life and hosted by the Core Repository. This will be a bi-weekly informal meetup to play bluegrass, folk, and/or popular music. Anyone with or without an instrument is welcome to join. Their inaugural practice session is taking place on Monday, October 31 at 3:30 pm in the Core Repository, B01 Geoscience.   Snacks will be provided.

Other upcoming events include tomorrow’s Women Together for Rockland Rally in Piermont – Saturday, October 29 at 10:00 am. One of the tenets of the non-partisan Women Together group is to protect our planet (maybe you’ve noticed their big sign at the intersection of Oak Tree Road and 9W). The group plans to march to the end of the Piermont Pier and there will be some speechifying starting around 10:30 am.  They have asked me to say a few words about the climate crisis and the importance of voting, which I am happy to do.

On Thursday, November 3 from 9:00-10:00 am, join Cassie Xu, Associate Director of Non-Degree Education and Outreach Programs at the Climate School, who will be presenting the LEAD talk “Exploring Broader Impacts”. “The new Leadership Education & Development (LEAD) program of the Office of Research seeks to formalize and unify researcher professional development training through workshops, presentations, and resources to help you along your leadership journey.” Please register here to receive the Zoom link.

In another upcoming event, Lamont is happy to co-present a Columbia School of Arts event with Duke Riley, the artist whose work with ocean plastic is on display now at the Brooklyn Museum: DEATH TO THE LIVING, Long Live Trash. The lecture will be at the Lenfest Center on Thursday, November 10, at 6:30 pm. Register for this event here. See his amazing work in this NYTimes article.

Please also save the date for November 16th, when I will have the pleasure of co-hosting with Samantha Mewis "Soccer in A Warming World," a workshop to address the implications of climate change for the most popular sport in the world. Samantha Mewis is an American professional soccer player currently playing as a midfielder for the Kansas City Current of the National Women's Soccer League and for the US Women's National Team. This special event is co-sponsored by the Climate School and Lamont. The workshop will take place in the Monell Auditorium from 1:00-4:00 pm,  followed by a reception in the lower lobby. Please register here

Finally, I am delighted to announce that Renata Wentzcovitch, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Earth and Environmental Sciences, has been elected as president of AGU's "Mineral and Rock Physics" section. Congratulations Renata!

Have a leaf-filled weekend!  Are we raking yet?




Hurricane Sandy Devastated Coney Island 10 Years Ago. So Why Has NYC Added Almost 2,000 Homes to the Area Since?, The City, October 27, 2022, “It’s just mind-boggling how short-sighted the city has been in its planning process,” said Columbia University geophysicist Klaus Jacob, whom Bloomberg appointed to the inaugural New York City Panel on Climate Change.  Jacob added that new housing built in the last 10 years will only be good for a couple of decades, or “maybe if we are lucky, towards the end of the century.”


LI'S ROADS STILL VULNERABLE TO FLOODING; Improvements since Sandy need more work, Newsday, October 26, 2022..."All of our infrastructure is typically designed for something like two inches per hour maximum and often the capacity is less, particularly if it was built in an older time," said Klaus Jacob, special research scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

The Man Who Predicted Flooding of the Subways on Sandy 10 Years Later, NY1, October 25, 2022, Interview with Lamont scientist Klaus Jacob.  (no direct weblink—live interview)

The Autonomous Ocean, Hakai, October 24, 2022, Photo caption: Oceanographer Pierre Dutrieux of Columbia University prepares a Seaglider for a journey under Antarctic ice. The glider mission staged on the Araon—run by Dutrieux and Craig Lee of the University of Washington, in partnership with the Korean Polar Research Institute—was the most prolonged exploration below a polar ice shelf on record.

What Utah Can Learn From Chile About Dealing With Climate Change, The Daily Universe, October 24, 2022, Benjamin L. Cook and Jason E. Smerdon, two faculty members at Columbia Climate School Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, along with Park Williams, a professor in the University of California Los Angeles Department of Geography, collaborated to study how the megadrought emerging in the southwestern area of North America has intensified from 2020-2021.

Will Staten Island See Another Hurricane Sandy?, Staten Island Advance, October 23, 2022, Dr. Chia-Ying Lee, an assistant research professor of ocean and climate physics at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, has studied the past and future hurricane hazards for New York. She found that while there is little consensus on whether storm frequency will increase, she believes there will be a rise in storms that took the path Sandy did 10 years ago.

Stalagmites Show Evidence of Prolonged Drought in India, Eos, October 23, 2022, Brendan Buckley, a researcher with the Tree Ring Lab at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, said the Mawmluh cave study illustrates the advantage of having extended data sets. “You can look at things in the past that show major changes in the climate that are outside the variability that we see in the modern period.”

PlanetGeo: The Geology Podcast, October 20, 2022, Communicating the Earth Observatory: Author Kevin Krajick

Con Edison’s Investments and Climate Research: Prevent Outages, Protect Customers, New York Carib News, October 19, 2022, The region’s future will bring more heat waves, severe floods, heavier snow, and stronger winds. The changing climate threatens the company’s electric, gas and steam systems, according to a study the company’s experts developed with ICF and Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Phytoplankton: How Too Much of Good Thing Causes Problems, The Sweaty Penguin, October 17, 2022, Interview with Lamont scientist Ajit Subramaniam.

DEC Gives Grants To Improve Water Quality Of Hudson River Estuary, Patch, October 13, 2022, The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York — $74,969: Hudson River Education: Building A Pathway. The Building A Pathway project will enhance the Next Generation of Hudson River Educators paid internship program by offering the opportunity for student teams to develop field-research projects along a range of Hudson River science topics at the Columbia Climate School’s Lamont-Doherty Field Station in Piermont.


What Tropical Trees Can Teach Us About the Environment By Olga Rukovets, October 25, 2022, “PhD student Rose Oelkers discusses her work in the Amazon and what we can learn from the trees if we listen closely.”

Aging Populations, Low Economic Development May Amplify Future Air Pollution Health Impacts By Columbia Climate School, October 24, 2022, “Even if pollution goes down and climate change is slowed, deaths from air pollution in some regions may still rise.”

The 'Cassandra of the Subways' on Hurricane Sandy, Ten Years Later By Kevin Krajick, October 21, 2022, “Klaus Jacob predicted for years how the New York City subways would flood in a superstorm. Finally, authorities began to listen, but long-term preventive action came too little, too late.”

A Climate and Weather Expert on What We Know About Giant Storms Since Sandy By Kevin Krajick, October 19, 2022, “A scientist and writer reflects on the links between climate and extreme weather, New York City’s preparedness, and the role of the media in informing the public.”

Flooding Significantly Impacts African Food Security, Says Study By Columbia Climate School, October 17, 2022, “At a time when flooding is overtaking many parts of the world, millions of people in Africa are going hungry when croplands, livestock and infrastructure are inundated. But the results are complicated.”

Permafrost Emissions Must Be Factored Into Global Climate Targets, Says Study By Columbia Climate School, October 17, 2022, “As the Arctic melts, permafrost there has the potential to send huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, but exactly how much is up for grabs, depending on what we do to stem climate change in coming years.”

Study Upsets Models of How Lake Drainage Within Glaciers May Influence Sea Level, By Columbia Climate School, October 14, 2022, “Sudden plunges of lake waters from glacial surfaces to ice-sheet beds may not speed up the movement of Greenland’s tidewater glaciers, as previously thought.”

Hello Friends,

The big news this fortnight is that we held our first in-person Open House since before the pandemic. This past Saturday it was wonderful to see our campus buzzing with all the exciting exhibits and over 1700 attendees. I want to particularly thank Senator Reichlin-Melnick for spending time with us, including doing an on-site live radio interview promoting the event and sending cool pics/text out on his social media channels. I think you’ll be pretty impressed at all the neat pics and highlights here. Most importantly, the success of this event would not have been possible without all of the scientists, staff, students, friends, and family members who donated their time and energy. A special thank you also goes to our Communication and Events team and the members of our Open House Committees in helping us bring back this beloved event. Please also join me in thanking the event sponsors, including Orange & Rockland, Crestron, alumni Florentin Maurrasse, 9W Market, and South Orangetown Ambulance Corps.

Another popular public outreach event happened yesterday, the annual “Day in the Life of the Hudson River” which unites students and their teachers from across the region in a day-long intensive investigation of the Hudson River.  Students from Staten Island up to Peebles Island just beyond the Troy Dam participated in this event and this is the 20th consecutive year of data collection!  Lamont supports high school students at the Piermont Pier with sampling and preliminary interpretation of their data. Margie Turrin and her team collaborate with students from five local high school environmental science courses - Tappan Zee High School, Pearl River High School, Clarkstown South and North High Schools, and Spring Valley High School. They sample water chemistry, seine and ID fish, carry out macro and plankton identification, study currents, tides, and turbidity, as well as take sediment cores. For many students this is their first introduction to collecting data in the field. It was a dark blustery day, but quite warm.  One of the high school teachers I talked to told me that more than a few of his former students had told him that this field day changed the direction of their future studies toward environmental science.  One hundred and twenty high school students participated on the Piermont Pier!

In other news, Jacky Austermann, Assistant Professor in DEES and SGT, was named one of Science News’ 10 Scientists to Watch in 2022. “For the seventh year, Science News is featuring 10 early- and mid-career scientists driven by their curiosity and sense of wonder, and moved to solve some of the world’s biggest problems.” Congratulations Jacky!  On October 2, Suzana Camargo, Marie Tharp Lamont Research Professor in OCP, was interviewed on MSNBC American Voices with Alicia Menendez on “How climate change fuels monster hurricanes”.  And on Thursday October 13, Jonny Kingslake and myself participated in a post-film panel discussion about the documentary “Antarctica: Ice and Sky” by Luc Jacquet as part of the Being In the World semester-long film festival hosted by Maison Francaise and its Director Shanny Peer.

Check out this other high-production-value video from September 28:  Newsy published an article and video titled “New York City Scientists Are Exploring History Through Tree RingsLamont Tree Ring scientists Caroline Leland, Mukund Palat Rao, Milagros Rodriguez-Caton, Ed Cook, and Alan Solomon are mining samples of old growth timbers from the basements and dumpsters of NYC buildings (!) to produce valuable climate data.  Caroline, you are a natural on the big screen!

Finally, I hope you were able to join us at today’s DEIAB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Anti-bias, and Belonging) Town Hall in Monell Auditorium.  Led by Vicki Ferrini, Associate Director for DEIAB and Mackenzie Carr, Assistant Director for DEIAB, the Town Hall informed the community on the rationale, structure, strategy, and ongoing process behind creating an implementation plan to achieve our DEIAB ambitions. The goal of the DEIAB Town Hall was to empower all of our community to take part in changing the culture at Lamont. An emphasis was placed on the reasoning why this is an ongoing process, a process which requires intentional reflection for correcting, changing, and maintaining a culture of belonging and inclusivity. Finally, the Town Hall recognized that though there has been some progress made, this is ongoing work that will require patience and a continued dialogue to change the culture at Lamont.

Fall foliage, floodwater super-sponges, massive hurricanes, and more… about it all below.

Wishing you all a peaceful weekend of rest and reflection,




Is climate change fueling massive hurricanes in the Atlantic? Here's what science says., USA Today, October 13, 2022, Researchers studying hurricanes and global warming are working to demonstrate whether trends they see in the data could have happened by chance or without climate change, said Adam Sobel, an atmospheric scientist and professor at Columbia University. “That’s a tough bar, especially with hurricanes, because there’s not that many of them."  “There’s quite a few (studies) that conclude with pretty good evidence that you can see the intensity increasing. These other things we’re pretty sure they are happening, because there’s a line of evidence, but it’s not entirely clear," Sobel said. “People debate whether it’s a climate signal or not.”

Cloudburst Program Would Turn Parts of NYC Into Floodwater Super Sponges, Gothamist, October 12, 2022, Flooding isn’t just caused by rainfall from above, according to Dr. Klaus Jacoba geophysicist and climate expert at Columbia University's Climate School. He said in the past, many neighborhoods depended on wells for their water supply. Now that people no longer pump water from the Earth, the groundwater levels are higher. “Rising groundwater levels mean that if it rains a little bit, that's enough to cause some flooding because the water can't infiltrate into the ground. So, it finds its way out to the street and the sewer system,” Jacob said. “Of course, under heavy rains, it gets worse. There are things coming from above when there are things coming from below.”

Scientists Spy Salty Groundwater System Beneath Antarctic Ice Stream, National Science Foundation, October 11, 2022, Groundwater is typically defined as water beneath the land surface, stored within any space available in soil, sand, or rock. In Gustafson’s study, which was part of her doctoral work at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia, this definition required adjustment to exclude the shallow 10-meter thick, water-saturated till layer.

Columbia University Studying How Climate Change Impacts Fall Foliage, New York Ag Connection, October 11, 2022, At the Columbia Climate School's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a camera sits on a rooftop monitoring the nearby treetops all year long. A peek at its livestream shows that the forest is still capped in green.

Hurricane Ian Exposed Florida as a Hotbed of ‘Climate Gentrification’, Footprint Coalition, October 10, 2022, Published in the Elsevier journal Cities co-authors, Marco Tedesco of the Columbia Climate School and Jesse Keenan of the Tulane School of Architecture, use advanced data modeling techniques to predict how climate gentrification will transform American cities, putting a magnifying glass over Tampa and Miami, Florida.

Fall Foliage and Climate Change: A Wild Mix, Hudson Valley Viewfinder, October 9, 2022, Features Lamont scientist Mukund Palat Rao.

WRCR Tough Times with Lou Young – Oct 8, 2022, Interview with Climate School dean Alex Halliday, focused on Lamont Open House.

Shifting Climate Zones: Sahel Might Get 50% More Rain by 2025, Sonnenseite (Germany), October 8, 2022, Co-author Anders Levermann from PIK and Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory adds: “We don’t know what the impacts on the ground will be, this is beyond the scope of our study; but imagine the chance of a greening Sahel. Still, the sheer size of the possible change is mindboggling – this is one of the elements in the Earth system that we might witness tipping soon.”

Climate Skeptics Falsely Deny Link Between Warming and Hurricanes, Agence France-Presse. October 6, 2022, Suzana Camargo, a research professor at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, also told AFP: "The current scientific status is that we expect hurricanes to become more intense, have more rainfall associated with them and lead to higher storm surge levels in the future." That is evidenced by storms such as Hurricane Harvey, she added.

Climate Change is Favoring La Niñas, Research Suggests, Azo Cleantech, October 5, 2022, Coauthored by Yue Dong of LDEO.

Palm trees bend in high winds and are hard to uproot. A forest ecologist says they're perfectly designed to withstand hurricanes., Business Insider, October 4, 2022, Cites Maria Uriarte of LDEO.

Megadrought could become the new normal in the south-western US, New Scientist, October 4, 2022, A drought is, by definition, something that comes to an end. “A drought is a temporary period of below-normal water availability,” says Benjamin Cook at Columbia University in New York. Even megadroughts that lasted for centuries eventually ended with the return of wetter years. But what happens when normal itself changes?

What’s Known About How Climate Change Fuels Hurricanes, The Conversation, October 3, 2022, Coauthored by Lamont scientist Suzana Camargo.

How Climate Change Fuels More Powerful Hurricanes, MSNBC American Voices, October 2, 2022, Interview with Lamont scientist Suzana Camargo.

Where the Hurricane Risk Is Growing, CNN, October 2, 2022, By Lamont scientist Adam Sobel.

Jacky Austermann looks to the solid earth for clues to sea level rise, Science News – Sep 29, 2022, It’s no revelation that sea levels are rising. Rising temperatures brought on by human-caused climate change are melting ice sheets and expanding ocean water. What’s happening inside Earth will also shape future shorelines. Jacky Austermann is trying to understand those inner dynamics.

How to Survive a Heat Wave, With Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bud Cooper, StarTalk, September 23, 2022, The episode features Lamont climate scientist Radley Horton. (segment starts at 37:50).


How Do We Clean Up All That Ocean Plastic? By Renee Cho, October 13, 2022, A number of organizations are attempting to clean up the water, but solving the problem of ocean plastic pollution will also require big changes on land.

Presenting Climate LIVE K12: RSVP for Winter 2022 and Spring 2023 Sessions By Laurel Zaima and Christina Deodatis, October 11, 2022, In the Climate LIVE video series, experts from across the Columbia Climate School present climate and sustainability content for grade school and university students, educators, parents, and the public.

Highlights From the 2022 Lamont Open House By Sarah Fecht, October 10, 2022, Visitors played with glacial goo, watched trash cans erupt with water and ping pong balls, and performed hands-on science experiments — all while learning how Lamont researchers help us understand our planet.

Should Coastal Communities Rebuild or Retreat After Hurricane Ian? By Sarah Fecht, October 07, 2022, The benefits and challenges of moving communities to safer ground.

Preparing for Volcanic Eruptions at Okmok Volcano, Alaska By Einat Lev, October 3, 2022, Researchers are working at a remote ranch in the Aleutians, commuting by helicopter to the brim of a volcano to perform maintenance on their monitoring equipment.

Come Visit Us at Lamont Open House By Columbia Climate School, October 3, 2022, Our favorite family-friendly event of the year is back in person. Come out to Palisades, NY, on October 8 for some fun, hands-on science education.

Here’s What We Know About How Climate Change Fuels Hurricanes By Mathew Barlow and Suzana J. Camargo, October 3, 2022, When Hurricane Ian hit Florida, it was one of the United States’ most powerful hurricanes on record, and it followed a two-week string of massive, devastating storms around the world.

25 Years of Translating Climate Science Into Action By Sarah Fetch, September 30, 2022, The Columbia Climate School’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society celebrated its 25th anniversary in an event on September 16.

Hello Friends,

Thank you to everyone who participated in the community Town Hall today.  It was great to see such a full auditorium and hear so many viewpoints.  We will obviously keep this conversation going at many levels.

Please note that the 2023-2024 Lamont Postdoctoral Fellowship program is now open for applications and help us spread the word among your colleagues. The application deadline is November 4th, and the deadline for reference letters is November 11. “The principal selection criteria for Fellows are scientific excellence and a clearly expressed plan to investigate problems at the forefront of Earth science. Applications from all related fields are welcome.”

Last Friday, September 23rd, we had a terrific half day meeting in Comer on the topic of “Climate Solutions: Capturing the Economic Opportunity”.  It was a forum where political, corporate, and community leaders across the Lower Hudson Valley came together to share information and build partnerships around the topic of regional sustainability.  The co-sponsors were the groups Sustainable Hudson ValleyRockland Economic Development and Tourism, and Sustainable Westchester.  We were delighted to be the host institution at their invitation.  Columbia Technology Ventures (CTV) also participated.  They invited me to give the keynote address, “Why Everything Has to Change and How It Can,” which was very well received.  ;-)

Congratulations to Marc Spiegelman, Arthur D. Storke Memorial Professor in DEES, Mingfang Ting, Lamont Research Professor in the Ocean and Climate Physics Division, and Spahr Webb, Jerome M. Paros/Lamont Senior Research Professor in the Seismology, Geology and Tectonophysics Division, for being inducted into the 2022 Class of AGU Fellows. The AGU’s Fellows program was established in 1962, and less than one-tenth of 1% of its members receive this honor each year. AGU will honor and celebrate its 54 new Fellows at its Fall Meeting in December.  This also brings to 34 the number of AGU fellows who call our campus home!

From September 19 to the 21, The Climate Group, in partnership with Columbia Climate School, hosted the 14th annual Climate Week NYC.  The week brought “together the most influential leaders in climate action from business, government and the climate community, and in conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly and the City of New York, Climate Week NYC creates an ambitious platform for our mission to drive climate action. Fast.”  It was great to see so much engagement across the city and the university, and thank you to everyone that participated in something.

Also, last week, Lamont hosted the QUIGS "Interglacials of the 41-kyr world and the Mid-Pleistocene Transition" workshop organized by DEES professors Bärbel Hönisch and Jerry McManus, as well as Professor Chronis Tzedakis of University College London. The workshop was co-funded by the Lamont Climate Center and PAGES.

On September 21st, in celebration of the 13th annual National Postdoctoral Appreciation Week, Columbia's Office of Postdoctoral Affairs hosted an outdoor lunch at Lamont in honor of our Postdoctoral Research Scientists. The lunch, organized in collaboration with Nicole deRoberts, Senior Manager for Academic Affairs, was attended by 17 of our postdocs, as well as Mackenzie Carr, Assistant Director of DEIA at Lamont, Ericka Peterson, Executive Director and Samantha Samel, Associate Director at OPA. "Since 2009, the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) has sponsored National Postdoc Appreciation Week to recognize the significant contributions that postdoctoral scholars make to U.S. research and discovery."

Lamont’s Campus and Life Committee is inviting proposals from all members of the Lamont Community for events and initiatives that “will enhance the sporting and social activities at Lamont”.  In past years, CLC has awarded proposals for the Fun-Run, Holiday Sing, hot plates for the Chili cook-off, improvements to the lactation room, and the cafeteria photography and "Research as Art" exhibits.  Click here for more details and how to submit your proposal.  The deadline for proposals is October 14.

After two years of not having Open House on campus, we are finally back on Saturday, October 8 from 10 am to 4 pm!  Check out the website for the map and information on the exhibits and tours.  If you plan on bringing your family, please register here. But we need volunteers.  If you are not working in an exhibit tent or lab, please consider helping as a campus volunteer.  Volunteer assignments vary and range from greeting visitors at the Welcome Tent as they arrive and handing out programs, selling Lamont merchandise in the Gift Shop tent, and surveying and directing visitors as they leave campus. Volunteers also staff tour sign-up tables, help direct attendees, assist with exhibits, help with lectures, and generally troubleshoot problems as they occur and fill in as needed. Volunteers should be here before 9:30 am and park in the Administration/Oceanography parking lot. Check in at the Welcome Tent, and receive your t-shirt, name tag and assignment instructions. Once you have completed your volunteer assignment, we encourage you to visit the exhibits and tour the Lamont campus. Please contact Omar Herrera at [email protected]. And of course, you are invited to come to the best, the coolest, the one and only Volunteer After-Party starting at 4:30 pm on the lawn near the Monell Building. Shuttle buses are scheduled to return to the Morningside Campus at 6:40 pm and 7:00 pm. I hope to see you there!

As part of the usual run-up to Open House, this past Wednesday evening we held a reception with 42 local friends and neighbors, many of whom were visiting Lamont for the first time. After my welcome, our guests enjoyed “speed” presentations from Dave Goldberg, Nikki Davi, and Dan Westervelt, who highlighted their work related to our global impact. Nikki and Dan brought props which were a great hit and seeded many follow-on conversations. Over wine and appetizers, our neighbors had the opportunity to mingle with the presenters and other members of our scientific staff, learning even more about the exciting research going on at Lamont. Many shared their interest in joining us for Open House next week. A special thanks to Louise McMath and the development team for their work on this great annual event!

I’ll wrap up with a few shout-outs to campus stars…..Bill Ryan, Special Research Scientist at Lamont and 2022 Lyell Medalist, will give a virtual Lyell lecture titled "From catastrophism back to uniformitarianism" at The Geological Society of London on October 5 at 5:00 PM BST.  Zoom link can be found above.

Charitie Ropati, a Columbia undergraduate student who was part of the Lamont REU program last summer, won the student poster competition at the LTER All Scientists Meeting. Charitie studies how the tundra is affected by climate change with DEES Professor Kevin Griffin. From Kevin: “In announcing the winners, they mentioned that there was a very long and detailed rubric used by the judges and that Charitie had received a perfect score! Super exciting and I am so proud of the work she has done. The award came with a membership to the Ecological Society of America and cash prize.”  Woot woot! A cash prize always works!

Finally, thank you to the many people that helped celebrate Dr. Naomi Henderson’s retirement after three decades of service at Lamont this evening.  From Richard Seager: "For decades, she was THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON in the climate modeling and diagnostics group, more important than any LRP or DEES PI (and I said so in each of my annual reviews for her). Through applied mathematical analyses, algorithm development, numerical model development, coding, and data science, she enabled all work we do to get done. Naomi got us into climate modeling in the first place and, by doing so, allowed us to solve the mystery of the causes of long terms droughts in the West. She developed the ocean models that allowed us to unravel the causes of extratropical sea surface temperature variability. Naomi got us into exploiting the vast CMIP archives and being the first to identify the human-driven aridification of the West. Most recently, she has enabled Ryan's work making climate model data accessible and analyzable in the cloud - a massive advance in the climate research community - placing Lamont at the center of big data in climate research. Naomi has worked with countless students, postdocs, and researchers across divisions, troubleshooting every problem and helping them solve math, coding, modeling, analysis, and data problems. She did all that putting in massive long days, weekends, and holidays and never turned anyone away. I mean it, Naomi was worth more to our group than any of us PIs. She deserves Lamont's recognition now that she has retired."

Dear Naomi, it was a personal pleasure to learn all this and I, and I'm sure all of Lamont, wish you all the best in your retirement.  Don’t be a stranger as they say!

Best, Mo



Jacky Austermann Looks to Solid Earth for Clues to Sea-Level Rise, Science News September 29, 2022

New York City Scientists Are Exploring History Through Tree Rings, Newsy, September 28, 2022, Feature on Lamont-Doherty Tree Ring Lab.

A Nightmare Forecasters: Why Hurricanes Are Getting Stronger, Faster, New York Times, September 26, 2022, “The occurrence of more intense storms is something we are very confident about,” said Suzana J. Camargo, a hurricane expert, and professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. In a 2019 study published in Nature Scientific Reports, researchers found that warming temperatures may lead to weakening vertical wind shear, allowing hurricanes approaching the East Coast of the United States to intensify more rapidly. However, the study’s findings were localized; different effects of warming on wind shear could be observed globally, said Dr. Camargo, one of the authors of the study.

People Need to Think Bigger About Volcanic Catastrophes, AGU’s Eos, September 22, 2022, Dedicated volcano satellite missions would be a game changer, said Einat Lev, an associate research professor at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University who was not associated with the new work. “Sometimes changes in volcanoes happen over years and decades, but sometimes they change over weeks,” she said. A satellite would allow for more continuous observations in a holistic way.

Exploring the Depths of Scientific Patronage, Issues in Science Technology, Summer 2022, Naomi Oreskes draws on oral histories, interviews, and institutional records of the three main locales of American oceanographic research—indeed the only three in existence at the beginning of the story: the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, and Lamont Geological Observatory (now Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory) at Columbia University. She describes thrilling discoveries made possible by generous funding, but at the same time, she points to scientists’ anxieties resulting from exclusive government patronage: the burden of loyalty, the effects of secrecy and classification, and the struggle to balance the Navy’s mission with the researchers’ own search for knowledge. 

I Wish Everyone Could Love Their Home Town Like I Love Mine!, Pearl River Patch, September 17, 2022, And finally, three worldwide acclaimed science research institutions, starting with the New York State Nathan Kline Psychiatric Institute in the hamlet of Orangeburg, next the Lerdele Laboratory In the hamlet of Pearl River, which had a leadership role in WWII and the current pandemic-ending up with the Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in the hamlet of Palisades. All three world giants!

West Antarctica’s ‘Doomsday Glacier’ Melts at Alarming Rates, The Ticker, September 16, 2022, “If those glaciers would destabilize, a lot of neighboring areas would also fall apart, causing a widespread collapse,” Indrani Das, who is an associate research professor at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and co-principle investigator for the ITGC, said.  “It would cause a huge sea level rise.”

Eight Days in Greenland, Highlands Current, September 16, 2022, A climate scientist who traveled with us to Greenland, Marco Tedesco of Columbia University, had visited the country nine years earlier with reporter Lesley Stahl for a series I produced for Showtime, Years of Living Dangerously. On the ice sheet, Marco and Lesley saw lakes that would soon drain and weaken the ice. They heard the rumble of melting, cracking ice. Today, Marco tells me that the effects of climate change are worse than anticipated. “Things we didn’t expect to happen for decades are happening now,” he says.


How Does Climate Change Impact Fall Foliage? By Sarah Fecht, September 26, 2022m “Changing temperatures and precipitation can affect when the leaves change and how vibrant their colors blaze.”

You Asked: Dinosaurs Survived When CO2 Was Extremely High. Why Can’t Humans? By Anuradha Varanasi, September 20, 2022, “Our expert says: Although carbon dioxide levels have been much higher in the past, they generally increased slowly, giving plants and animals time to adapt. When the rate of climate change was staggeringly fast, like today, there were big problems.”

Catching the Next Eruption of Axial Volcano By Theresa Sawi, September 19, 2022, Diary entries from a research expedition that deployed seismometers on the ocean floor in hopes of recording the next eruption of a submarine volcano.

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Weekly Report from the Director

Hello Friends,

It has been my honor and pleasure to take part in the IRI 25th Anniversary celebrations that happened today.  The International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) would not be the institution it is today without the contributions of Lisa Goddard and Benno Blumenthal, two members of the Lamont community that passed away, far too young, in recent years. It has been especially moving hearing the tributes to their lives, their research and their pioneering leadership in the field of climate services.

We also hosted the IODP Forum this week under the leadership of Carl Brenner, Senior Staff Associate and Director of the Lamont-based U.S. Science Support Program. A significant topic of discussion within the international leadership of the IODP Forum is the future of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP).  This and the former drilling programs have been essential to the scientific portfolio of Lamont scientists for decades.  We can only hope, and work hard to ensure, that current and future generations of Earth and climate scientists have access to deep ocean drilling.  Indeed, the drill ship, the JOIDES Resolution, is the Hubble Telescope of our field.  We need a new James Webb!

I would like to welcome the 18 new graduate students in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and apologize for missing their welcoming event (due to Covid).  This is a good time to let all the students know that the Graduate Student Lounge, located behind the cafeteria, has been completely renovated and is open for business.  Many thanks to Angela LoPiccolo for her efforts.  Please feel free to share any feedback.  The two main rooms are designed as a social work space and a quieter reflection space.  That could include a power nap!  Please feel free to send feedback or suggestions to Angela.

Two graduate students recently defended their PhD.  Congratulations to Rebecca Trinh for successfully defending her thesis entitled “Microbial ecology of Antarctic carbon export” on September 6th. Rebecca will be starting a position as a biological oceanographer for the Applications and Research team of NOAA CoastWatch. Part of her role will be using NOAA satellite products to answer pressing questions about how the ocean is affected by climate change and how that, in turn, affects people's lives.

Congratulations also to PhD student Dongping Song, for his successful defense on August 18th. His thesis focused on "Tracer Studies of Air/Sea Gas Exchange, Mean Residence Times, and Stable Isotope Fractionation in the Arctic Ocean". Dongping is a student in Lamont's Geochemistry Division with a primary affiliation with the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering (DEEE) at Columbia University. Dongping will start a postdoctoral position, working with Peter Schlosser, in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory at Arizona State University.

In addition, the following FY22 promotions are also worthy of note and celebration! 

  • Chia-Ying Lee promoted to Lamont Associate Research Professor, Junior Staff.
  • Anne Bécel promoted to Lamont Associate Research Professor, Senior Staff.
  • Einat Lev promoted to Lamont Associate Research Professor, Senior Staff.
  • Nicolás Young promoted to Lamont Associate Research Professor, Senior Staff.
  • Michela Biasutti promoted to Lamont Research Professor.
  • Ben Bostick promoted to Lamont Research Professor.
  • Susanne Straub promoted to Lamont Research Professor.
  • Jennie Nakamura transitioned to Research Scientist.

September also sees the beginning of AGU’s award announcement month and the first big congratulations go out to Adam Sobel, Professor in Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics as well as DEES.  Adam has been named the 2022 Jule Gregory Charney Lecturer by the American Geophysical Union (AGU). “The Jule Gregory Charney Lecture is presented annually to a prominent scientist who has made exceptional contributions to the understanding of weather and climate.” The award and lecture will be presented at the Atmospheric Sciences business meeting during the AGU Fall Meeting, which will take place this December in Chicago.  

I’ll end by acknowledging the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 to October 15. I invite you to read the message shared by Mackenzie Carr, Lamont Assistant Director of DEIA, which is absolutely a good way to learn more about this important part of our shared heritage.

Have a peaceful weekend while you ponder the reality of Pliocene otters as large as lions!  Mo



The Globe Is Barreling Toward $1 Trillion in Weather-Disaster Damages, Bloomberg News, September 15, 2022, Scientists are investigating whether climate change is responsible for increasing the odds for a La Nina. Richard Seager, a research professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said he and his colleagues theorize the rise of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is making extended, strong La Ninas more likely. Still, more research is needed to fully understand the patterns.

Why the Quieter Than Usual Hurricane Season?, WSB, September 15, 2022, A team of researchers led by Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Columbia University researcher Suzana Camargo and Université du Québec à Montréal’s Francesco Pausata found that large eruptions in either the northern or southern hemispheres served to push the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) away from its usual position -further into the southern hemisphere in the case of a northern hemisphere eruption, and the opposite for an eruption south of the Equator.

How the South Asian Monsoon Is Changing in a Warming Climate, Carbon Brief, September 15, 2022 By Lamont scientists Michaela Biasutti and Mingfang Ting.

Power Outages Are on the Rise, Led by Texas, Michigan and California. Here's What to Blam, CNN, September 14, 2022, Romany Webb, a researcher at Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, said US utility companies need to account for the changing climate — evaluating whether existing stations are located in areas at risk of flooding, how severe droughts may affect the power plant operations, or how power lines might be impacted by increasing temperatures. “For many, the findings won’t come as a surprise because, all across the United States, people are already directly experiencing climate change-related disruptions to electricity and other services,” said Webb, who was not involved with the report. “As we’ve seen in recent years, those disruptions can have deadly consequences. Things will only get worse if we don’t take action.”

Hard Hit by Climate Change, Winemakers Turn to Sustainability, Reuters, September 14, 2022, In some ways, wine is like the canary in the coal mine for climate change impacts on agriculture, because these grapes are so climate-sensitive,” says the study’s co-author, Benjamin Cook from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.  

(Wire service report – widely syndicated)

The centuries-long quest to map the seafloor’s hidden secrets, Popular Science, September 14, 2022, Article on work of William Haxby of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.  Also cites Marie Tharp and Bruce Heezen.

‘Global Stilling’: Is Climate Change Slowing the World’s Winds?, Yale e360, September 12, 2022, By using the Pliocene as an analog for modern global warming, it seems likely that the movement of the westerlies” — the prevailing mid-latitude winds that blow from west to east — “towards the poles observed in the modern era will continue with further human-induced warming,” says Gisela Winckler, a researcher at Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory and an author of the Pliocene dust paper. … Dealing with wind-energy droughts will require new strategies for energy storage and reliable alternatives, says Upmanu Lall, a professor of civil engineering at Columbia University. Because of the variability of both wind and sunshine, alternative energy is “starting to look more like a water system than an energy system,” he says.

15 Conspiracy Theories Spawned by 9/11, MSN, September 11, 2022, According to conspiracy theorists, seismographs at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory recorded the strongest jolts from the Twin Towers’ collapse before falling debris struck the ground. These seismic spikes, they say, provide proof that demolition-style explosions brought the towers down.

The next four articles are on a study of Argentinian Shipwreck by Lamont scientists Mukund Palat Rao and Edward Cook.

Mystery of a Ship That Disappeared in 1858 Resolved by Use of Tree-Ring Technique, Yahoo News, September 6, 2022

Scientists Help Confirm Wreck Is Long-Lost Warren Ship, Warren Times-Gazette, September 9, 2022

How Tree Rings Helped Identify a New England Whaler Lost at Sea, New York Times, September 7, 2022

Can Tree Rings Solve the Mystery of a 19th-Century Shipwreck?, Smithsonian, September 4, 2022

The next eight articles are on a study of Extinct Otter Coauthored by Lamont scientist Kevin Uno.

Lion-Size Otters Prowled Ethiopia 3 Million Years Ago, Livescience, September 13, 2022

In Ethiopia, Scientists Discover a Fossil Otter the Size of a Lion, AllAfrica, September 13, 2022

Otters the Size of Lions Once Roamed the Earth,Telegraph (UK), September 8, 2022

Ancient Otter Fossils Show It Was the Size of a Lion, Daily Mail (UK), September 8, 2022

This Species of Otter Was as Big as a Lion, Futuro360 (Chile), September 8, 2022

Scientists Discover an Otter That Lived in Ethiopia and Was as Big as a Lion, Semana (Colombia), September 8, 2022

A New Species of Extinct Otter Was as Big as a Lion, Europapress (Spain), September 8, 2022

Ancient Otter Fossils Show It Was the Size of a Lion When it Lived More Than 2.5 Million Years Ago, Bharat Express News (India), September 8, 2022

To Clear Deadly Land Mines, Science Turns to Drones and Machine Learning, Scientific American, September 7, 2022, Research by Lamont graduate student Jasper Baur.

Lex van Geen, Research Professor, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, The Creative Process, September 7, 2022, Interview with Lex van Geen of LDEO about his work.

Scientists Warn of Breadbasket Failure Because of Climate Change, Deccan Herald (India), September 4, 2022, Kai Kornhuber, research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia Climate School, said: “Climate change leads to more intense and more frequent extreme weather and climate events such as heatwaves, intense rains and prolonged drought.

Food Supply and Security Concerns Mount as Impacts Stress Agriculture, Yale Climate Connections, September 6, 2022, Article cites research led by Lamont climate scientist Kai Kornhuber.

From Pakistan to Texas, big rains after extreme heat deliver double punch, Reuters, September 2, 2022, "The warming trend is the main driver behind the increase in concurrent heatwaves," said climate scientist Kai Kornhuber at Columbia University in New York, who was part of a team including Singh that worked on the study. But there is evidence, including the research around the jet stream, "to believe that atmospheric dynamics have contributed to this increasing trend".


What Lies Beneath Melting Glaciers and Thawing Permafrost? By Renee Cho, September 13, 2022, “As the planet’s ice disappears, it’s exposing new surfaces, opportunities, and threats — including valuable mineral deposits, archaeological relics, novel viruses, and more.”

Columbia Climate School Postdoctoral Research Program Now Accepting Applications for 2023 By Guest Blogger, September 07, 2022, The application deadline is October 31.

The Energy Transition Needs to Be Climate-Proofed By Corey Lesk and Kai Kornhuber, September 07, 2022, “Increasingly extreme weather has the potential to derail renewable energy projects — but there are a few things we can do to keep moving forward.”

Fast-Wasting Antarctic Glacier Lost Ice Even Faster in Past, Raising Concerns for FutureBy Columbia Climate School, September 06, 2022, “Some time in the past 200 years, Antarctica’s giant Thwaites Glacier saw a period of retreat much faster than even that observed in recent years. It could be a warning of rapid sea-level rise in the near future.”

In Ethiopia, a Fossil Otter the Size of a Lion By Columbia Climate School, September 6, 2022, Enhydriodon omoensis dwarfed ancestors of humans who lived alongside it from 2.5 to 3.5 million years ago; the two species

Hello Friends,

This week I was fascinated by a research study coming out of the Tree Ring Lab (lots of links below).  Using the tree rings in the ancient timbers of a shipwreck found in Patagonia, our scientists were able to determine the origin and likely identity of the ship.  They believe it was the Dolphin, a whaling ship which sailed from Rhode Island in 1859 and never returned.  The tree rings revealed that the trees used to construct the wreck grew in southeastern New England and were felled the year before the Dolphin was built.  Pretty incredible detective work.  Tree Ring Lab scientists Mukund Rao and Ed Cook led this work.

Lots of news piled up in August, which was also Diversity Awareness Month. As we continue our commitment to actively learning about and dismantling the persistent inequities that inhibit diversity and inclusion, I want to especially acknowledge some of the dedicated members of our community who attended the “Second National Conference for Justice in Geoscience” that took place at AGU Headquarters on August 15 -17. Members of the Lamont Community, current and past, who engaged in this important event included:

  • Lauren Moseley and Hannah Sweets facilitated the Graduate Student Advocacy: Removing Barriers to Belonging Action Lab. Lauren and Hannah discussed how to create methods to create and advance justice within geoscience spaces while working towards a more diverse and inclusive future.
  • Kailani Acosta who facilitated an Action Lab focused on Graduate Student Advocacy: Organizing for Radical Change. Kailani discussed the importance of building a memory of DEIA within institutions/organizations and approaching leadership about making change, how to get funding for initiatives, how to unionize or support ongoing efforts to unionize, implementing crossover meetups of affinity groups, and what can we do together.
  • Other Lamonters in attendance included incoming first year PhD student Redmond Stein as well as Lamont Adjunct Professor Alessandra Giannini.
  • Former Lamonters who participated include Spencer Jones, Gemma Sahwell, Anna Ledeczi, and event co-organizer Benjamin Keisling.

On August 11, the Secondary School Field Research Program (SSFRP) ended its six-week 2022 summer program with 72 high school and college students' oral and poster presentations. The students capped their experience at Lamont with a BBQ in their honor. Please join me in thanking Ben Bostick, Bob Newton, Margie Turrin, Susan Vincent, Magdaly Sevilla, and all the mentors for their extraordinary work stimulating our aspiring future Earth scientists.

Congratulations go to James Davis, Associate Director and Lamont Research Professor in the Seismology, Geology and Tectonophysics Division, and Joaquim Goes, Lamont Research Professor in the Biology and Paleo Environment Division, who are both recipients of a Columbia Global Centers President's Global Innovation Fund Award for 2022. Prof. Davis received the award for his project titled "Collaborative studies of the causes and impacts of sea-level change in the Marmara Sea region". Prof. Joaquim Goes was awarded for his project titled "Development of a Prototype Kenya Ocean Monitoring and Decision Support System for Sustainable Coastal Resource Management under Climate Change".

In addition, I am delighted to share that Ph.D. student Rebecca Trihn is among the 86 finalists to receive a 2023 John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship sponsored by New York Sea Grant. Rebecca is studying the marine carbon cycle of the West Antarctic Peninsula where the vast majority of particulate organic carbon that is exported to the deep ocean is made up of krill fecal pellets. Her findings show that this unique part of the Antarctic ecosystem plays a disproportionate role in the sequestration of carbon and that “the full-scale ecology of these organisms must be taken into account when predicting future change to the biological carbon pump in the face of warming at the poles.”

Congratulations also to Jonathan Lambert, who, on August 15, successfully defended his PhD thesis on "Pleistocene Nutrient, Thermocline, and Bottom Current Dynamics in the South Pacific Sector of the Western Pacific Warm Pool". Jonathan will be relocating to Santa Barbara, CA, to start a position as Ocean Science Manager at Conservation International in October. 

Ten days later, on August 25th, Rebecca Herman defended her PhD thesis on "Drivers and Mechanisms of Historical Sahel Precipitation Variability". Rebecca will be starting a position as a Researcher with Jakob Runge on CausalEarth in the Climate Informatics Lab at the German Aerospace Center.

I’ll wrap up with a few other notable professional successes.  DEES Professor Bill Menke just had a new edition of his textbook “Environmental Data Analysis with MatLab or Python” published. Lamont Research Scientist Frank Nitsche (lead PI) and Lamont Assistant Research Professor Kirsty Tinto (co-PI) just received a five year $1.6M+ grant for "Supporting Antarctic Research with Ongoing Operations and Development of the USAP‐DC Project Catalog and Data Repository".  And finally, a team led by Lamont Senior Research Scientist Vicki Ferrini was just notified that their INSPIRE proposal was funded.  This is an NSF Cultural Transformations award for $7.3M aimed at fostering a just, equitable, and inclusive geoscience research community rooted in multi-directional listening and knowledge transfer.  Vicki was also just appointed as Chair of the Ocean Exploration Advisory Board of NOAA.  Thank you for your leadership, Vicki, on so many fronts!

Wishing you all a peaceful three-day weekend.  Mo



Volcanic Winters Ushered in the Jurassic Reign of the Dinosaurs, Eos, August 31, 2022, Dinosaur Evolution Study by Lamont scientists Paul Olsen, Dennis Kent

Study: Vikings Were Not the First to Settle the Faroe Islands, The Archaeologist, August 31, 2022, Lorelei Curtin of American Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the lead author of the study, and colleagues collected the evidence from sediment cores taken from the Eiðisvatn catchment, home to the remains of an old Norse summer farm settlement called Argisbrekka.

The Microclimates of Glaciers Imitate Climate Change, Portal Ambiental (Mexico), August 31, 2022, Research by Lamont adjuncts Ben Gaglioti and Greg Wiles.

The next eleven articles are on research by Lamont scientists Mukund Rao and Ed Cook.

Shipwreck’s Story ‘Is There in the Tree Rings’, Newser, August 31, 2022

Scientists Determine the Year and Origin of a Ship That Wrecked Off Patagonia 150 Years Ago, El Ciudadano (Argentina), August 31, 2022

Dendrochronology Applied to Shipwreck Off Argentina’s Coast, Ancient Archaeology, August 31, 2022

After 160 Years, Argentine Scientists Resolve the Mystery of a Whaling Ship That Wrecked Off Patagonia, Clarín (Argentina), August 30, 2022

Dendrochronology Applied to Shipwreck Off Argentina. Archaeology, August 30, 2022

Long-Lost American Shipwreck Identified Off Argentina, Zenger News, August 30, 2022

Sunken Ship Found Off Argentine Patagonia Identified, MercoPress, August 30, 2022

A Ship That Sank 160 Years Ago Could Be Identified By Its Wood, Diario Jornada (Argentina), August 30, 2022

Scientists Affirm That a Shipwreck Off Punta Cuevas Is a North American Whaler Lost in 1859, El Chubut (Argentina), August 29, 2022

Rhode Island Whaling Ship Identified Off Patagonia After Nearly Two Centuries Lost at Sea, Rhode Island Monthly, August 25, 2022

Scientists Say a Shipwreck Off Patagonia Is a Long-Lost Rhode Island Whaler, Eco Magazine, August 25, 2022

Study: Vikings Were Not the First to Settle Faroe Islands, Norway Today, August 30, 2022, Article on study by Lamont researchers Lorelei Curtin, William D’Andrea.

The World’s Rivers, Canals and Reservoirs Are Turning to Dust, Bloomberg News, August 26, 2022, The ongoing and strong La Nina connects the droughts and low river flows in North America, Europe, Middle East and the southern hemisphere,” said Richard Seager, a research professor at Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory.

How Climate Change Spurs Megadroughts, Yale Climate Connections, August 25, 2022, The connection between climate change and drought is not as straightforward as it seems. Some areas are likely to get wetter while others get drier. Still others may accumulate the same total rainfall, but in inconsistent patterns: More rain might fall in fewer, more intense bursts, followed by longer dry spells. “It’s complicated,” said Benjamin Cook, a climate scientist at NASA and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Why Europe Is Particularly Impacted by Heat Waves, Euronews, August 24, 2022, "Europe is particularly affected with an amplified heat wave trend that is three to four times larger than compared to the rest of the mid-latitudes," Kai Kornhuber, a climate scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory told Euronews.

Revelations From 17-Million-Year-Old Ape Teeth Could Lead to Insights on Early Human Evolution, The Conversation, August 24, 2022, Coauthored by Lamont postdoc Daniel Green.

Report of an ancient methane release raises questions for our climate future, The Washington Post, August 24, 2022, Still, the newest theory about how the climate dominoes may fall underscores what the late Columbia University geoscientist Wallace Broecker famously observed as he studied the global ocean currents’ response to burning fossil fuels: “The climate system is an angry beast and we are poking it with sticks.”

How Climate Change Spurs Megadroughts, Down to Earth (India), August 18, 2022, The connection between climate change and drought is not as straightforward as it seems. Some areas are likely to get wetter while others get drier. … More rain may fall in intense bursts, followed by longer dry spells. “It’s complicated,” said Benjamin Cook, a climate scientist at NASA and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Millions of People in Midwest to Experience ‘Extreme Heat Belt’ by 2053, ABC News, August 15, 2022, Jason Smerdon, a climate scientist for the Columbia Climate School's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York, told ABC News last month that extreme heat is a "basic consequence of climate change." "While each heat wave itself is different and has individual dynamics behind it, the probability of these events is a direct consequence of the warming planet," Smerdon said.

Research: Dinosaurs Take Control in Cold Climates, ANI (India), August 15, 2022, A Dinosaur Evolution Study by Lamont scientists Paul Olsen and Dennis Kent. (wire service report; widely syndicated)

Opinion: The Inflation Reduction Act is a huge victory in this existential fight, CNN, August 13, 2022, By Adam Sobel of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

How Climate Change Spurs Megadroughts, Grist, August 9, 2022, The connection between climate change and drought is not as straightforward as it seems. Some areas are likely to get wetter while others get drier. Still others may accumulate the same total rainfall, but in inconsistent patterns: More rain might fall in fewer, more intense bursts, followed by longer dry spells. “It’s complicated,” said Benjamin Cook, a climate scientist at NASA and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

New Study Reports that Tropical Cyclones are Dropping in Number, Eco Magazine, August 5, 2022, Using historical records and model data, the paper — co-authored by Suzana Camargo, an extreme weather expert from the Columbia Climate School’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory — shows the number of storms decreased by about 13 percent in that period in both global and regional scales.

Glider Experts Share Knowledge to Improve Global Ocean Health Data, Eco Magazine, August 5, 2022, Co-lead Dr. Julius Busecke from Columbia University and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory said: “This project was very dear to me because of my past work as an observational oceanographer. These best practices, created by the world experts in the field, will make it much easier for students and people new to their platforms to produce high quality results. This living document will grow the community around glider observations and help to drive new scientific discoveries”.


How Is Climate Change Affecting Ocean Waters and Ecosystems? By Kevin Krajick, August 29, 2022, "Biological oceanographer Hugh Ducklow describes decades of work in far-flung places to understand the evolving ecology of the oceans. The picture is not always clear."

Científicos afirman que un naufragio en la costa de Patagonia es un ballenero norteamericano perdido en 1859 By Kevin Krajick, August 24, 2022, “En 1858, un velero partió de una ciudad costera del noreste de Estados Unidos para cazar ballenas alrededor del mundo y nunca regresó. ¿Dónde terminó? Investigadores de los hemisferios sur y norte se unieron para dar respuesta a este misterio.”

Scientists Say a Shipwreck Off Patagonia Is a Long-Lost 1850s Rhode Island Whaler By Kevin Krajick, August 24, 2022, “In 1858, a sailing ship left Warren, R.I., to hunt the globe for whales, and never returned. Where did it end up? Researchers from the southern and northern hemispheres joined to investigate.”

Caroline Juang: Blending Art, Science, and Outreach By Alexis Earl, August 24, 2022, “In addition to studying climate-related hazards, Juang is a talented artist who helps make STEM fields more accessible for underrepresented minorities. Somehow, she also finds time to sleep.”

17 Million-Year-Old Teeth Open Windows Into Early Ape and Human Evolution By Columbia Climate School, August 22, 2022, “A new study shows that natural variants of oxygen within ancient animal teeth recorded details of seasonal rainfall, environmental conditions and animal behavior.”

Hello Friends,

Is it snakes on a plane or snakes in Monell?  The critters are on the move and we are on high alert up here on top of the sill.  We did, however, take a break for this week’s ice cream social where Rich, Laura, and Angela scooped some summer cheer for a hundred or so people.  I had a great conversation with a group of local Rockland County high school students who have been working with Margie Turrin and Laurel Zaima at the Piermont LDEO Hudson River Field Station.

Also this week, the 2022 Lamont Undergraduate Summer Interns presented their final projects, each giving a summary of their results at a plenary session in Monell Auditorium.  This was followed by a poster session in the Comer Atrium in which they explained their work one-on-one to Observatory staff and other guests. This year's group comprised 33 undergraduate students from over twenty colleges and universities, including not only Barnard and Columbia, but schools as distant as Colby College (Maine), Navajo Technical University (New Mexico) and Valley College (California). The ten-week program was led by Lamont scientists Dallas Abbott and Mike Kaplan with help from Clara Chang and Bennett Slibeck.  It was staffed by fifty Columbia-affiliated scientists and graduate students who served as mentors to individual students, and was made possible by funding from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Science Support Program, LDEO, Columbia DEES, Columbia EI, Barnard College and individual donors. Congratulations Summer Interns for your excellent research and for the energy and inspiration that you bring to the Lamont Community!  And a big thanks to all the scientists, graduate students, administrators, technical staff and other folk who made this year's program a tremendous success!

 In the comings-and-goings department, Lamont Research Professor Mingfang Ting, stepped down from her position as Associate Director of Ocean and Climate Physics after eight years of leading the Division.  I am happy to announce that Lamont Research Professor Christoper Zappa has been appointed the new Associate Director for the OCP as of July 16.  Our new Director of Capital Planning and Facilities Strategy Mr. Dean Pearce also started on Monday, August 1st.  He will slowly be making the rounds in the coming weeks, introducing himself to the divisions and familiarizing himself with the needs of our buildings and labs.  Welcome Dean!

Two other notable events happened on campus recently.  Please join me in congratulating graduate student Nicholas O’Mara who successfully defended his thesis on “Monsoons, wildfires, and savannas: drivers of climate and ecosystem change in Northwest Africa.”  Our second notable event was a day-long visit by Prof. Dennis A. Mitchell, Executive Vice President for University Life and Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement.  He spent a day here on a team retreat with his office staff that included a walking tour of the campus and a few labs.  The entire team was incredibly enthusiastic about their visit and I’m sure more of our downtown colleagues will follow in their footsteps.

In closing, I wish everyone some quiet summer days in which to recharge your batteries.  I will be traveling to Norway next week to meet my new (and first) grandchild.  Coastal grandma, here I come!

Best, Mo  



This Day in History: The Term ‘Global Warming’ Appears for the First Time, History, Aug 3, 2022, Article about work of Lamont scientist Wally Broecker.

Humid Heat: Hidden but Hazardous, Climate Central, Aug 3, 2022, Radley Horton of LDEO listed among national experts.

Using Artificial Waves to Predict Tsunamis, ECO Magazine, Aug 2, 2022, The data used for the study were obtained during a five-week ship expedition with the American research vessel MARCUS G. LANGSETH.

Burning Up: Heat, Drought and Wildfires Are Ravaging Western Wildlife, National Wildlife, Aug 2, 2022, “As the atmosphere becomes warmer, it becomes hungrier for moisture and draws more water out of soil and plants,” explains Jason Smerdon, a climate scientist with Columbia University’s Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory.

Ending the Plague of Plastic, Aspen Ideas Festival, July 29, 2022, Talk by Lamont education coordinator Laurel Zaima.

Pollen of the Past, Wellesley Magazine, July 29, 2022, Profile of Lamont adjunct Linda Heusser.

Floods, Heat and Fire: How Climate Change Is Unfolding in Real Time, NBC Nightly News, July 29, 2022, Interview with Climate School scientist Radley Horton.

These Hurricane Flood Maps Reveal the Climate Future of Miami, NYC and D.C., NPR Morning Edition, July 28, 2022, "We can't control the ocean, not even with sea walls," said Dr. Klaus Jacob, a geophysicist and climate expert at Columbia University's Climate School. "We need to start moving people to higher ground now, and using the coastal areas as a barrier."

Future Storms Will Put Parts of NYC Underwater, Endangering Hundreds of Thousands, NPR All Things Considered, July 28, 2022, Interview with Climate School scientist Klaus Jacob.

Massive Greenland Ice Sheet Loss in Just 3 Days; Experts Warn About More Water Melting Each Year, The Science Times, July 28, 2022, Furthermore, Greenland's ice sheet's melting began in 1990 and has revved since 2000. In July last year, climate scientist Marco Tedesco from Columbia University reported that Greenland's ice sheet lost 8.5 billion tons of surface mass in just one day, enough ice water to cover entire Florida in two inches.

Climate Change Exposes Growing Gap Between Weather We’ve Planned For—And What’s Coming, USA Today, July 27, 2022, Quotes Climate School scientist Radley Horton. (subscription only)

Carbon dating hampered by rising fossil-fuel emissions, Nature, July 27, 2022, “This wildlife forensics tool; the window is closing on its effectiveness,” says palaeoecologist Kevin Uno at Columbia University in New York City, who has used the bomb curve to date ivory samples and study elephant poaching3. “It’s kind of depressing.”

NOW Tonight with Joshua Johnson, NBC News, July 27, 2022, Interview with Cascade of CIESIN.

Her Discovery Was Dismissed As ‘Girl Talk’, SRF (Switzerland), July 26, 2022, Profile of Lamont scientist Marie Tharp.

The Great American Megadrought Is Already Here, Slate, July 25, 2022, Podcast with Lamont scientist Jason Smerdon.

Utah’s Great Salt Lake Drops to Lowest Level in Centuries Amid Drought, CGTN (China), July 24, 2022, "Because of rising temperatures, the need of water for crops and for human usage has been going up, so there's a lot of water, an increasing amount of water, that would've gone into the lake has been diverted for other human purposes," said Richard Seager, a researcher with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory under Columbia University.

These Images of Great Salt Lake Are Haunting, Huffington Post, July 23, 2022, Due to rising temperatures, the need for water for crops and human use has increased. So an increasing amount of water that was supposed to go into the lake has been diverted for human interests, says Richard Seager, researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory for Columbia University.

The Arctic Is Warming Much Faster Than the Rest of the Planet, Wired, July 23, 2022, “I don't think it's really precisely known—if these tipping points exist—what level of warming would trigger such rapid changes,” says Michael Previdi, a climate scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, who wasn’t involved in the new paper. But, he continues, in theory a larger amplification factor “increases the chances of passing one of these tipping points.”

The Bold Journey of the EV Nautilus to Map the Entire Planet’s Ocean Floor, The Daily Beast, July 22, 2022, Cites Marie Tharp and Vicki Ferrini of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

What Are Carbon Offsets, and Can They Combat Climate Change?, Wall Street Journal, July 21, 2022, “I don’t know whether they’re really offsetting carbon dioxide that we are emitting,” Mukund Palat Rao, a postdoctoral research scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said of carbon offsets. “But by conserving a plot of land and stopping it from being deforested, we are stopping the carbon that the forest has accumulated over the past 200 years from going back into the atmosphere.”

The Social Responsibility of a Climate Scientist, TEDx Broadway, July 21, 2022, Talk by Lamont scientist Adam Sobel.

Greenland lost enough ice in three days to cover West Virginia, Daily Mail, July 21, 2022, On July 27, 2021, Marco Tedesco, a climate scientist at Columbia University reported Greenland’s ice sheet lost 8.5 billion tons of surface mass in a single day, which was enough ice to cover Florida in two inches of water.

What Is Ocean Acidification?, July 21, 2022, A study published in 2014 by Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory has provided a comprehensive set of statistics on global marine acidity. In this study, 2005 is used as a reference year to draw on four decades of measurements.

Record-breaking Heat Waves in US and Europe Prove Climate Change is Already Here, Experts Say, Bloomberg News, July 20, 2022, Extreme heat is a "basic consequence of climate change," and the fact that it's happening in several different locations at the same time is characteristic of the average global temperatures rising, Jason Smerdon, a climate scientist for the Columbia Climate School's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York, told ABC News. "While each heat wave itself is different, and has individual dynamics behind it, the probability of these events is a direct consequence of the warming planet," Smerdon said, adding that a break in low airmass off the Atlantic Ocean moved east and blanketed Spain and Portugal, which is why those countries experienced the worst of the prolonged heat.

Cold Temperatures Paved the Way for T. Rex,Tech Explorist, July 20, 2022, Article on study by Lamont scientists Paul Olsen, Dennis Kent.

Lake Mead Dwindles, and a WWII Era Landing Craft Emerges, LiveScience, July 19, 2022, Geophysicist Richard Seager of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York told Live Science that the decades-long drought at Lake Mead is mainly the result of a persistent "cold phase" in weather of the tropical Pacific Ocean region that causes relatively dry conditions over the Southwest of the United States.

‘Oldest Living Thing on Earth’ Discovered in Chile, Al Jazeera, July 19, 2022, Interview with Lamont tree-ring scientist Mukund Rao.

Mapping a Volcanic Eruption in the Backyard of Iceland’s Capital, Eos, July 19, 2022, For residents and visitors, maps can “remind the public that the land beneath them is actually very active and that eruptions can still happen,” said Einat Lev, an associate research professor at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

The volcanic eruption in Alaska that rocked ancient Egypt » Yale Climate Connections, Yale Climate Connections, July 18, 2022, As climate scientist Wally Broecker once said, “Climate is an angry beast, and we are poking at it with sticks.” The powerful impacts of a destabilized climate system have the potential to reshape our society. In our own time of human-caused climate change, the stories of history don’t feel quite so ancient.

The New York City Triathlon Has a Complicated Relationship With the Hudson River, Fox Weather, July 18, 2022, A nonprofit called Riverkeeper has worked with volunteers and partners, including Columbia Climate School's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, to take samples of the Hudson across a 150-mile span providing data on water quality, including whether it's safe to swim in based on the Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.

The following 24 articles are related to Summer Heat Waves:

As Europe’s Heat Wave Melts Roads, Climate Change Is Making the Tour de France More Extreme, Washington Post, July 24, 2022, “What we already see is a shift in perception,” said Kai Kornhuber, a scientist with Columbia University’s Climate School. “That summer is not only a beautiful day at the beach and fun at water parks, but it’s also associated with wildfires, power failures and excess mortality.”

The Science Behind Extreme Heat and Climate Change, NBC News, July 22, 2022, Interview with Climate School scientist Radley Horton.

Linking Extreme Heat to Climate Change, Cheddar News, July 22, 2022, Interview with Lamont professor Jason Smerdon.

Climate-Change Fueled Heat Waves Forecast a New Global Reality, Globe and Mail (Canada), July 22, 2022, That heat waves are hitting different parts of the world at the same time indicates that “the climate as a whole is warming,” said Dr. Jason Smerdon, a Lamont research professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. “The heat events that we’re seeing around the world are part of a progressively warming climate. So, our reality today is bad as we look around and we see these extreme events that are being supercharged by climate change,” he said.

U.S. Swelters in Latest Heat Wave, Yahoo News, July 20, 2022, Quotes Lamont scientist Jason Smerdon.

60 Million U.S. Residents Face Triple Digit Temperatures This Week, Ecowatch, July 20, 2022, “While each heat wave itself is different, and has individual dynamics behind it, the probability of these events is a direct consequence of the warming planet,” the Columbia Climate School’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York climate scientist Jason Smerdon told ABC News.

Record-breaking heat waves in US and Europe prove climate change is already here, experts say,m ABC News, July 20, 2022, Extreme heat is a "basic consequence of climate change," and the fact that it's happening in several different locations at the same time is characteristic of the average global temperatures rising, Jason Smerdon, a climate scientist for the Columbia Climate School's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York, told ABC News. "While each heat wave itself is different, and has individual dynamics behind it, the probability of these events is a direct consequence of the warming planet," Smerdon said.

Dante’s Inferno-Like Conditions Erupt Over Europe, Daily Kos, July 20, 2022, Low-pressure zones tend to draw air toward them. In this case, the low-pressure zone has been steadily drawing air from North Africa toward it and Europe. “It’s pumping hot air northward,” said Kai Kornhuber, a researcher at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, part of Columbia University.

Why Is Europe So Hot Now?, Deutsche Welle (Germany), July 20, 2022, Interview with Lamont scientist Kai Kornhuber.

The World Is Burning Once Again, The Atlantic, July 19, 2022, Quotes Columbia scientists Simon Lee, Kai Kornhuber and Alex Ruane.

Why the Widespread Heat Waves? CBS NY, July 19, 2022, Interview with Lamont scientist Richard Seager.(no direct weblink)

As NYC Sizzles, Research Shows Why Some Neighborhoods Are Hotter Than Others, NY1, July 19, 2022, Interview with CIESIN scientist Cascade Tuholske.

Record-Breaking Heat Waves in Europe and US Show Climate Change Is Already Here, Experts Say, ABCm July 19, 2022, Interview with Climate School scientist Radley Horton.

Why Europe Is Becoming a Heat Wave Hot Spot, New York Times, July 18, 2022, Low-pressure zones tend to draw air toward them. In this case, the low-pressure zone has been steadily drawing air from North Africa toward it and into Europe. “It’s pumping hot air northward,” said Kai Kornhuber, a researcher at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, part of Columbia University. Dr. Kornhuber contributed to a study published this month that found that heat waves in Europe had increased in frequency and intensity over the past four decades, and linked the increase at least in part to changes in the jet stream. The researchers found that many European heat waves occurred when the jet stream had temporarily split in two, leaving an area of weak winds and high pressure air between the two branches that is conducive to the buildup of extreme heat. Dr. Kornhuber said warming in the Arctic, which is occurring much faster than other parts of the world, may play a role. As the Arctic warms at a faster rate, the temperature differential between it and the Equator decreases. This leads to a decrease in summertime winds, which has the effect of making weather systems linger for longer. “We do see an increase in persistence,” he said.

Heat Waves Are Dominating Summer, Killing Thousands and Sparking Wildfires, Business Insider, July 18, 2022, "There needs to be kind of a shift in the perception of what a heat wave actually means, that the heat wave is not some fun day at the beach, but that it's potentially dangerous to health," Kai Kornhuber, a climate physicist at Columbia University, told Insider.

Europe Wrestles With Heat Waves and Forest Fires, Financial Times, July 18, 2022, Kai Kornhuber, research scientist at Columbia University, said that Europe is becoming a heatwave “hotspot”, with such abnormally hot weather episodes increasing three to four times faster than at other mid-latitudes. “Western Europe is seeing its third intense heatwave this summer, and it is still early [in the summer],” he said. The changing behaviour of the jet stream, which governs the weather in Europe, is contributing to the increase in heatwaves.

Europe Heat Wave Sparks Widespread Fires, Ecowatch, July 18, 2022, Quotes Lamont scientist Kai Kornhuber.

New Study Reports That Tropical Cyclones Are Dropping in Number, Ocean News, July 18, 2022, Using historical records and model data, the paper — co-authored by Suzana Camargo, an extreme weather expert from the Columbia Climate School’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory — shows the number of storms decreased by about 13 percent in that period in both global and regional scales. The study authors cautioned, however, that frequency was only one aspect controlling the risks associated with tropical cyclones; these storms have been increasing in intensity in recent decades, and may also be shifting closer to coastal areas inhabited by growing populations.

15 Minutes of Fame: Choosing Marie Tharp, BBC History (UK), July 18, 2022, Article about the Lamont researcher.

As Europe Boils, Climate Change Will Fuel Even Worse Heat Waves: Experts, Straits Times (Singapore), July 16, 2022, Quotes Lamont scientist Kai Kornhuber.

Europe’s New Normal: A Continent on Fire, Irish Examiner, July 16, 2022, Quotes Lamont scientist Kai Kornhuber.

Shanghai Declares Third Rare Extreme Heat Warning This Summer, Guardian (UK), July 16, 2022, Quotes Lamont scientist Kai Kornhuber.

Volcanic Lava Lake Belts Out Its Secrets in Seismic "Songs", Eos, July 15, 2022, Einat Lev, a volcanologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who was not involved in the paper, agreed.  “I actually think that the more we understand about how magmatic systems evolve between eruptions, the better equipped we will be to predict eruptions,” she said. “While the specific model employed in this paper is designed for lava lakes, the insight about the evolution of the system is likely more generally.

As Europe Bakes in Heat Wave, Wildfires Rage From Portugal to Croatia, Reuters, July 14, 2022, A study in the journal Nature last week found the number of heatwaves in Europe has increased three-to-four times faster than in the rest of the northern mid-latitudes, such as the United States and Canada, due in large part to the jet stream air current splitting into two parts for longer periods. “Europe is very much affected by changes in atmospheric circulation,” co-author Kai Kornhuber, a climate scientist at Columbia University, told Reuters. It’s a heatwave hotspot.” (wire service report; widely syndicated)


Heat Wave in Europe: Climate School Experts Available to Comment By Columbia Climate School, July 18, 2022, “Hundreds of people have lost their lives in Spain and Portugal due to a heat wave that is moving north and east through Europe.”

More Frequent European Heat Waves Linked to Changes in Jet Stream By Columbia Climate School, July 05, 2022, “A new study shows that weather systems that normally cool part of the continent are being diverted northward. This is combining with overall warming to produce long-lived heat waves.”

Hello Friends,

Three things are top of mind today: There has been an increase in the number of Covid cases recently so please be extra careful and please wear your masks indoors during this time of increased risk.  Second, the raspberries are ripening and ready to be foraged.  I know a few of us are competing with the deer for these little nuggets of deliciousness.  And third, Paul Olsen reminds us again that any scientific study with the word dinosaur in it immediately rockets to the top of the charts.  Indeed, Paul continues his epic lifetime quest to unravel the mysteries of the Mesozoic, most recently challenging the stereotype of dinosaurs as warm-loving heat-seeking charismatic and/or terrifying megafauna.  Turns out they may have been cute fluffy little beasties hanging out on icebergs.  And to quote Kevin Krajick, our media relations manager, “Professor Paul Olsen and Adjunct Senior Research Scientist Dennis Kent in the Biology and Paleo Environment Division, have evolved to dominate the planet (at least for a few days)”.

In other science news, Lamont Assistant Research Professor Dan Westervelt and DEES PhD student Garima Raheja recently returned from two weeks in the field in Lomé, Togo. While there, they assembled and installed the country's first ever regulatory-grade particulate matter monitoring stations with the help of colleagues from the Université de Lomé and local environmental policy makers. They also conducted training sessions on instrumentation and analysis of air pollution data from such instruments.  This is truly the embodiment of President Bollinger’s fourth purpose, namely “advancing human welfare by merging our distinctive intellectual capacities with groups and organizations beyond the academy to bring about meaningful change.”

From the other side of the Atlantic, Anne Bécel, LRP and Chief Scientist, reports in on the successful Langseth cruise offshore of Mexico's Pacific coast. "After 47-days at sea aboard the R/V Marcus Langseth, we are back at Lamont with several terabytes of new, exciting seismic data collected across the Middle America Trench.” They are the first to image the plate boundary contact between the subducting Cocos Plate and overriding North American plate and they hope to gain a better understanding of the earthquake risk associated with this subduction zone.   

From seasoned scientists to the newly minted, please join me in congratulating Drs. Gibson and Lenssen!  On July 7, James Gibson successfully defended his thesis on "Controls on Surface and Sedimentary Processes on Continental Margins from Geophysical Data: New Insights at Cascadia, Galicia, and the Eastern North American Margin". James will continue consulting in both geophysics and data science.  On July 14, Nathan Lenssen defended his PhD thesis on “Uncertainty and Predictability of Seasonal-to-Centennial Climate Variability”.  Nathan accepted a postdoctoral position with Prof. Pedro DiNezio at University of Colorado Boulder.

I am also pleased to announce that Lamont Associate Research Professors Indrani Das, Chia-Ying Lee, Christine McCarthy, and Kirsty Tinto are each the recipient of a 2022 Palisades Geophysical Institute (PGI) Young Scientist Award at Lamont.  This is an award that brings significant salary support to junior LRPs and lasts for four years or promotion to senior staff, whichever comes first.  Equally exciting to me is that this round of awards means that this year, for the first time, every junior LRP, including Brendan Reilly who will start in October, will be guaranteed a minimum of 3.5 months of support (or more), the same as for the senior LRPs.  This is almost entirely because of the generosity of past and present donors to LDEO, including those who have supported the Climate and Life Fellowships, the PGI awards, as well as the fellowships supported by the families of Peter Joseph and Donald Beene. This is so wonderful and I hope this will be the new normal for our amazing junior faculty.

Mackenzie Carr, Assistant Director of DEIA, has asked me to announce that July is Disability Pride Month. He encourages our community members to listen to the voices of those with disabilities. We understand that a deliberate effort for more recognition and representation for the disability community is needed. This month gives our community a chance to shine a spotlight on people who are often underrepresented, marginalized, forgotten, or explicitly discriminated against.  If you want to watch an inspiring and educational summer-themed documentary, I’ve previously recommended Crip Camp, and do so again. 

I’d also like to thank the outgoing Colloquium Faculty Coordinator Nicolás Young, Lamont Associate Research Professor in the Geochemistry Division, and outgoing Graduate Student Colloquium Organizers Tanner Acquisto, Joohee Kim, and Madankui-Tao for a great year of talks, despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic.   At the same time, we are happy to welcome the 2022-2023 Colloquium Committee with Dan Westervelt, Lamont Assistant Research Professor in OCP, as the new Faculty Coordinator.  The new Graduate Student Organizers are Caroline Juang, Tess Walther, and continuing members Jasper Baur, Claire Jasper, Celeste Pallone. The committee is seeking nominations for potential speakers for the fall. Please use this form to submit your nomination by August 1st.  And speaking of talks, please Save-the-Date for an in-person Summer Stars Lecture with Bahamian poet and essayist Bernard Ferguson on Friday, July 29 at 2:00 PM in the Monell Auditorium.  Please try to make that an on-campus day!

I’ll end with a shout-out to the students of the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation, and Planning (GSAPP), who are in the middle of an immersive design-build workshop on our campus.  The students and faculty are designing and constructing a small-scale art installation at the entrance to our Geoscience Building.  This sculpture will use raw earthen construction techniques, mirroring the "Farm to Building" technique, which is an environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable construction method.  Also called “rammed earth”, please google “famous rammed earth buildings” and be impressed (the 1200-year-old Alhambra!).  I’m sure the group would be delighted to discuss their work if you stopped by.

Wishing you all a peaceful summer weekend.

Best, Mo



Restoring Hudson River Ecosystems Is Essential to Continue Dolphin and Whale Sightings, Fox Weather, July 8, 2022, For the past 14 years, the nonprofit Riverkeeper has worked with volunteers and partners, including Columbia Climate School's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, to take samples of the Hudson across a 150-mile span providing data on water quality, including whether it's safe to swim in based on the Environmental Protection Agency guidelines. 

U.S. Biggest Reservoir Hits Lowest Point Amid Megadrought, Xinhua (China), July 8, 2022, The megadrought that has gripped the southwestern United States for the past 22 years is the worst in at least 1,200 years, NBC News reported in February, citing research published in the journal Nature Climate Change. Jason Smerdon, one of the study's authors and a climate scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, was quoted as saying by the news outlet that global warming has made the megadrought more extreme because it creates a "thirstier" atmosphere that is better able to pull moisture out of forests, vegetation, and soil.

Following are two articles on the Supreme Court Decision on Clean Air Act:

Are the Feds Closing the Door on Climate Action?, The Hill, July 11, 2022, The article quotes Lamont Research Professor Jason Smerdon.

Is federal government dooming efforts to address climate change?, The Hill, July 10, 2022, “Given gridlock in Congress, action at the state level is essential,” said Jason Smerdon, a professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

India's Deadly Heatwave Will Soon Be a Global Reality, The Washington Post, July 7, 2022, Some peer reviewers refused to believe Columbia University's former doctoral student Colin Raymond's results. "There's no way these values could be right," Radley Horton, a professor at Columbia who supervised and co-authored the study, recalled one comment saying. After multiple rounds of review, however, the study was published in May 2020 in Science Advances, titled "The emergence of heat and humidity too severe for human tolerance."

Following are 46 articles on a Dinosaur Evolution Study by Lamont scientists Paul Olsen and Dennis Kent in the Biology and Paleo Environment Division:

Feathers Were the Secret of Dinosaur, July 11, 2022

Feathery Insulation Helped Dinosaurs Survive and Thrive: Study, Mirage News (China), July 10, 2022

How Dinosaurs Conquered the World by Doing the Unthinkable, Mashable, July 9, 2022

A New Theory on the Rise of Dinosaurs, BBC Science in Action, July 7, 2022 (segment runs 23:56-30:07)

Feather Coats May Have Helped the Dinosaurs Survive an Apocalypse, Syfy, July 7, 2021

Reign of the Dinosaurs Began After Cold Waves 202 Million Years Ago, National Geographic (Spain), July 7, 2021

Dinosaurs Took Over Planet Because They Could Endure the Cold, Scientists Say, LiveScience, July 7, 2022

‘Dinosaurs Were Well Adapted to the Cold’, Kijk (Netherlands), July 6, 2022

How Protofeathers Helped Dinosaurs Adapt and Thrive in Cold Weather, Omny Radio (Canada), July 6, 2022

Protofeathers May Have Helped Dinosaurs Survive and Dominate the World, Inverse, July 5, 2022

Dinosaurs: How Did They Cope With Cold Weather?, BBC Newsround, July 5, 2022

Dinosaurs Took Over Planet Amid Cold That Reptiles Couldn’t Survive, The Independent (UK), July 5, 2022

Dinosaurs Came Out if the Dark to Take Over the World After Triassic Mass Extinction, ZME Science, July 4, 2022

Dinosaurs’ Dominance Linked to Adaptation to Cold, The Canadian (Canada), July 3, 2022

Cold Enabled Dinosaurs to Survive, Scinexx (Germany), July 3, 2022

Dinosaurs Already Adapted to Cold, Study Finds, Verve Times, July 3, 2022

Footprints in China Show Dinosaurs Came in From the Cold to Rule the World, South China Morning Post (China), July 3, 2022

Dinosaurs Adapted to the Cold Well, Enabling Them to Survive the Triassic-Jurassic Extinction, Science Times, July 3, 2022

New Evidence Shows Apparent Key to Dinosaurs’ Later Dominance After Mass Extinction, Nature World News, July 3, 2022

‘Cold Adapted Dinosaurs Survived Mass Extinction to Survive Mass Extinction, Study Says, CTV (Canada), July 3, 3022

Mysterious Mass Extinction 200 Million Years Ago: Why Did the Dinosaurs Survive It?, Scientias (Netherlands), July 2, 2022

‘Their Other Rivals Died Out’: Scientists Prove That Dinosaurs Survived Ice, RTVi (Russia/US), July 1, 2022

Dinosaurs Likely Inhabited Earth Cold Regions Even During Triassic, Study Says, Sputnik News (Russia), July 2, 2022

Cold Helped Dinosaurs Take Over the World, Sydsvenskan (Sweden), July 2, 2022

Dinosaurs Survived One Extinction in Chilly Temperatures, Jerusalem Post (Israel), July 2, 2022

What We’ve Been Getting Wrong About Dinosaurs, CNN, July 1, 2022

Were Dinosaurs Warm or Cold-Blooded? Scientists May Finally Have an Answer, Inverse, July 1, 2022

How the Dinosaurs Took Over, Economist, July 1, 2022

Dinosaurs’ Ability to Survive Icy Cold Helped Them Dominate the Planet, New Scientist (UK), July 1, 2022

Feathers May Have Helped Dinosaurs Survive Their First Apocalypse, Scientific American, July 1, 2022

Feathers May Have Been Key to Dinosaurs Taking Over the Earth, Real Clear Science, July 1, 2022

Did Fuzzy Coats Help Dinosaurs Survive One of Earth’s Worst Extinctions?, Science, July 1, 2022

Dinosaurs Took Over Earth After Winter of Discontent, Cosmos (Australia), July 2, 2022

Dinosaurs Came to Dominate the World in Icy, July 1, 2022

Rise of the Dinosaurs Traced Back to Their Adaptation to Cold, Guardian (UK), July 1, 2022

Freezing Temperatures From Repeated Volcanic Winters May Have Led to Rise of Dinosaurs, BBC Science Focus (UK), July 1, 2022

‘We Got Dinosaurs All Wrong’: New Study Argues That They Were Fundamentally Cold-Adapted Animals, Courthouse News, July 1, 2022

Age of Dinosaurs Was Triggered By Series of Deep Freezes, Public News Time, July 1, 2022

Feathers May Have Helped Dinosaurs Survive the Triassic Mass Extinction, Science News, July 1, 2022

Age of Dinosaurs Was Triggered By a Series of Deep Freezes 200 Million Years Ago, Daily Mail, July 1, 2022

Metabolism and Feathers: Why Dinosaurs Didn’t Die Out in the Mass Extinction of the Triassic, Teller Report, July 2, 2022

Dinosaurs Rose in the Cold of the Triassic, EFE (Spain), July 1, 2022n===, (wire service report; widely syndicated)

Dinosaurs Conquered Earth Due to Their Adaptation to Cold, La Vanguardia (Spain), July 1, 2022

Study of Mass Extinction Reveals That Dinosaurs Ruled Amid Ice, Not Warmth, Nonetheless (Portugal), July 1, 2022

Dinosaurs Survived Freezing Poles Before Jurassic Jungles, Discover, July 1, 2022

Dinosaurs Took Charge Amid Ice, Not Heat: Study, The Hill, July 1, 2022

(Our press release also picked up by scores of news-aggregator sites)


More Frequent European Heat Waves Linked to Changes in Jet Stream By Columbia Climate School, July 5, 2022, “A new study shows that weather systems that normally cool part of the continent are being diverted northward. This is combining with overall warming to produce long-lived heat waves.”

Dinosaurs Took Over Amid Ice, Not Warmth, Says a New Study of Ancient Mass Extinction By Kevin Krajick, July 1, 2022, “There is new evidence that ancient high latitudes, to which early dinosaurs were largely relegated, regularly froze over, and that the creatures adapted—an apparent key to their later dominance.”

Hello Friends,

The news out of DC has been tough to take lately, including seeing the possibility of effective regulatory action on climate change evaporate.  However, I am constantly inspired by all the people, from all fields and walks of life, who are fighting for progress and this won't deter them or us. 

I am also sad to share the news that Peter Molnar, a distinguished colleague, Lamont alumni, and long-standing friend and supporter of our campus passed away earlier this month after a long fight with cancer.  Peter earned a PhD in seismology at Lamont in 1970 working with Lynn Sykes, Bryan Isacks, and Jack Oliver.  He went on to a distinguished career, eventually being awarded the 2014 Crafoord Prize. A great supporter of Lamont, his gifts were typically earmarked to support early career scientists.

Another great supporter of early career scientists, Bill Ryan, Special Research Scientist in the MGG Division at Lamont, was recently awarded the prestigious Charles Lyell Award at a virtual ceremony hosted by the Geological Society of London. He will give the Charles Lyell lecture on October 5th, either in London or online. 

In other news, please join me in congratulating Jenny Lee on her new position as Division Administrator of the MGG Division. Jenny, who started her new role on June 15th, has a MSC in Counseling/Communications from New Rochelle College and has been at Lamont since 2019 as Administrative Assistant for the OCP division.

In OCP, LRP Mingfang Ting is stepping down as Associate Director after eight years in this role.  She and LRP Jason Smerdon just moved into new leadership roles within the Climate School while Dr. Ruth DeFries, Co-Founding Dean, is on sabbatical.  Both will serve as Co-Senior Directors for Education.  Yesterday also saw the official last day of Bob Newton who has just retired. Bob came to Lamont 31 years ago as a DEES graduate student working with Mark Cane and Peter Schlosser on Arctic climate change and oceanography and he has been here ever since. Bob, Senior Research Scientist in the Geochemistry Division, has been an avid advocate for the interests of Lamonters on the Research Scientist track, most recently as their representative on ExCom. In 2004, Bob established the Secondary School Field Research Program (SSFRP), the high school summer program that engages dozens of high school students in research and laboratory projects at Lamont every summer. The SSFRP is a fantastic program, serving a highly diverse cohort with a stunning (100%) college success rate and an impressive rate of choosing STEM majors (almost 50%).  It is truly one of the gems in Lamont’s crown.  Bob will continue to be involved in the SSFRP this summer while transitioning it to the new leadership team of Benjamin Bostick, Lamont Associate Research Professor in Geochemistry, Einat Lev, Lamont Associate Research Professor in SGT, and Margie Turrin, Senior Staff Associate in MGG. Many thanks, Bob, and we wish you all the best for your retirement!

On June 29th Margaret Morrone also retired after 17 years with Lamont. Margaret began her career in the administration office and eventually became part of the B&G department. Margaret’s contributions were integral to the smooth operation of the B&G department and we will miss her dedication and ever positive attitude. During her retirement, she will enjoy relaxing on the beach in Aruba and traveling with her husband. We wish Margaret the best!

On the flip side, please join me in welcoming new DEES professor Dr. Folarin (Fola) Kolawole who joined us as an Assistant Professor of Structural Geology this week. Fola holds a PhD from the University of Oklahoma and joins DEES after working as an Upstream Structural Geologist at BP America. In this photo provided by DEES Prof. William Menke, Dr. Kolawole examines metamorphic rocks during a field trip to the Hudson Highlands of New York on his second day on the job. Welcome, Dr. Kolawole!  (and where did you get those very cool gaiters?)

In case you missed it, we recently circulated an RFP for the Fall 2022 Lamont Climate and Life Fellows Program.  We request proposals to fund urgent and impactful research that will deepen our understanding of how climate affects human sustainability and provide expert analysis on climate impacts and solutions. Please submit your proposal and any questions you might have to [email protected]. The deadline to submit proposals is July 22nd.

Finally, I’d like to thank the more than 125 Lamonters and Morningside colleagues who came together to celebrate Pride Month this past Wednesday.  Thanks also to Vicki Ferrini, Associate Director for DEIA, and Mackenzie Carr, Assistant Director for DEIA, who spoke about the importance of diversity and inclusion as well as the historical roots of the 1969 Stonewall Riots and the people who fought and continue to fight for complete equality for all members of the LGBTQIA+ community. They also recognized and thanked the efforts of our many colleagues who have worked tirelessly to advance equity, inclusion, and diversity at Lamont. Partygoers were treated to “Beyond the Rainbow-Pride Cupcakes” and delicious treats prepared by Richie, Laura, and Angela. I want to thank the staff who worked on the logistics to make this event a success, and a very special thanks to the Climate School Office of Research for generously sponsoring the celebration.

I hope everyone has a lovely Fourth of July weekend.  There is lots of interesting reading below and I especially enjoyed seeing the spider crabs inspecting our deep-sea instruments.




Battling Crabs Off the Oregon Coast While Studying an Underwater Volcano, OPB, June 30, 2022, The research team had just dropped overboard a specialized seismometer designed to reveal things like the shape of the magma chamber under the volcano. That seismometer is so sensitive to vibration, engineer Ted Koczynski said it needs a Smart Car-sized plastic dome over the top to protect it. “The whole idea of that shield is to stop any currents from getting in and tweaking that seismometer,” said Koczynski, who, when not at sea, is based at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York.

U.S. a Giant Tinderbox as Drought and Wildfires Combine, Newsweek, June 28, 2022, According to Mingfang Ting, a Lamont research professor and associate director for Ocean and Climate Physics at Columbia University, the ongoing drought in western states is directly related to the La Niña condition that emerged in August 2020, causing low rainfall two winters in a row. … Without somehow reversing climate change, dealing with these increased wildfires is going to be complicated, says Lisa Dale, a climate, Earth and society lecturer at Columbia Climate School.

Hurricane Numbers Are Decreasing in Every Ocean Basin Except One, Study Finds, CNN, June 27, 2022, Suzana Camargo, co-author of the study and professor at Columbia University, said the goal was to put all the existing evidence together to try to "breach the uncertainty — or make it a little smaller."  "People have been doing different attempts to try to figure out what happened with other datasets, using different methodologies, so I see this paper as another piece of the puzzle," Camargo told CNN.

Why Has La Nina Lasted So Long?, Gigazine (Japan), June 27, 2022, 'The IPCC model shows that as climate change warms the ocean, it moves closer to the El Nino phenomenon,' said Richard Seager, a climate modeler at Columbia University's Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory in Paris, New York, pointed out. However, observations over the last half century show the opposite. As the climate warms, the waters of the eastern equatorial Pacific become colder, creating a state closer to the La Niña phenomenon.

What Is Causing Devastating Floods in Bangladesh and India?, Ground Report (India), June 27, 2022, Mingfang Ting, a research professor at the Columbia Climate School’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, pointed to several large-scale weather conditions that could be contributing to heavy rains in China and South Asia.

Heat Waves Around the Globe Push People and Nations to the Edge, New York Times, June 24, 2022, But those temperature differences are key forces driving the winds that keep weather systems moving around the planet. As the temperature differences narrow, these air currents may be slowing down, said Kai Kornhuber, a climate scientist with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. That means extreme events like heat waves and heavy downpours are likely to last longer.

Triple Trepidation as Weather Forecasters Warn of La Nina’s Return, Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), June 24, 2022, The article quotes Lamont scientists Kai Kornhuber and Mingfang Ting, and Columbia Climate School’s State of the Planet.

We’re in a Historic Drought. This Texan May Have a Solution., Dallas News, June 24, 2022, In 2012, scientists at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory decided to check if Powell's findings still held up. They didn't.

Rare ‘Triple La Nina’ Event Looks Likely. What Does the Future Hold?, Nature, June 23, 2022, The article quotes Lamont scientist Richard Seager.

What Is Columbia Known For?, College Gazette, June 20, 2022, The school is currently New York City’s only university-related research park, and its Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory is a significant contributor to the investigation of global climate change.

It's not summer yet, but climate change is already showing its teeth in 2022, Yahoo News, June 17, 2022, The article quotes Radley Horton, Lamont Research Professor at Lamont.

Following three articles: Antarctic Groundwater Study by Lamont Scientist Kerry Key, and Chloe Gustafson, Graduate Student, DEES.

The Underground Rivers of Antarctica, Epsiloon (France), June 25, 2022, (no weblink—print only) 

Massive Groundwater Systems Lie Beneath Antarctic Ice, Eos, June 16, 2022

Giant Reservoirs of Water Could Aid Collapse of Antarctica, Folha de Sao Paulo (Brazil), June 16, 2022

Greenland’s Polar Bears Are Learning to get Around in a Less Icy World, Popular Science, June 16, 2022, Robert Newton, a geochemist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who studies Arctic sea ice, praised the wealth of information that Kristin Laidre, a marine biologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, and her team analyzed to discover the new subpopulation. “The article itself is very hopeful in the sense that it does appear that the polar bears can survive without sea ice as long as they have some alternative platform from which to hunt,” he said, noting that it can take hundreds of years for glaciers to retreat. “It is quite possible that polar bears as a species will survive the loss of sea ice in the Arctic even if most of the populations are forced into extinction or forced onto land where they’ll merge back into the brown bear populations.” 

N.H. Rock Cores Still Need a Home, Concord Monitor, June 16, 2022, The article cites Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.


Tropical Cyclones Are Dropping in Number, Study Says By Columbia Climate School, June 27, 2022, “Using historical records and model data, researchers have for the first time shown that the annual number of tropical cyclones dropped during the 20th century compared with the late 19th century.”

Seeing Through the Sea By Brian Boston, June 27, 2022 “How researchers are plumbing the seafloor during a quest to understand ‘silent’ earthquakes off the Mexican coast.”

Life Aboard the Langseth By Josh Burstein, June 23, 2022, “Daily life on a research vessel is smaller and slower-paced — in a good way, for the most part.”

Hello Friends,

Happy Pride Month!  Happy Juneteenth Weekend!  This Sunday, June 19th, also known as Juneteenth and Emancipation Day, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. Though it is a day that celebrates independence, Juneteenth is also a nod to the long delay of equality in our country. Despite the Emancipation Proclamation being issued by President Lincoln on January 1, 1863, many enslaved were not aware of their freedom until June 1865. And while the abomination of slavery has long since been abolished, severe societal inequalities continue to exist to this day.  Please let us continue to listen, learn, and reflect as a community as we celebrate this essential milestone in our nation’s history.

We also celebrate Pride Month in June, a time to acknowledge and reaffirm our commitment to supporting the LGBTQIA+ members of our community. We are delighted to be hosting a Pride celebration at Lamont on June 29 at 3PM (behind SGT), co-sponsored by the Climate School Office of Research and LDEO’s Office of DEIA, that will feature pride-themed food and festivities.  I hope you will join us!  I’d like to personally thank the Lamonters that have given so generously of their time and experience to help us navigate toward a more thoughtful, welcoming campus that supports all our members.  I have learned and grown along the way and want people to know that my door is always open.  If we don’t know about a problem, we can’t fix it.  To that end, another thanks go to Mackenzie Carr, our new Assistant Director of the Office of DEIA, and Vicki Ferrini, Senior Research Scientist and Associate Director for DEIA, for driving a renewed focus on the DEIA Task Force recommendations with our growing team. 

Related to this, I’m happy to report that the DEIA Office and the DEIA Standing Committee are working to establish a framework and program for recognizing and celebrating Diversity Heritage Months at Lamont. The goals of this effort are to increase awareness and allyship while building community and creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all.  Please reach out to Mack Carr if you have questions or suggestions about upcoming Heritage Months.
Columbia University Trustee Mark Gallogly and his wife Lise Strickler, along with their foundation Three Cairns Group staff, visited the campus on Wednesday, June 8th, for a team retreat. They also toured the campus and saw the Core Repository, Rock/Ice Mechanics, the Fluid Dynamics/Volcano Lab, and the Marine Polar Lab.  They were very impressed by the breadth of the Observatory's research and left at the end of the day grateful though exhausted.  I also had a lovely luncheon recently with another dedicated supporter of Lamont, Quentin Kennedy of the Comer Building Quentin Kennedy Board Room fame.  You rock Quentin!  This is a shout-out to thank you for everything you have done for LDEO over the years.  (He told me he reads the weekly report. ;-)

I look forward to seeing everyone at the in-person Columbia Climate School Town Hall hosted by the Climate School leadership on Thursday, June 23, on the Lamont Campus.  The Town Hall event in Monell Auditorium will be followed by a networking reception in the lower lobby.   Please remember to register and please come help represent our community.

The peaceful long days of summer are upon us.  Enjoy the long weekend!




NYC in 2027: What the city will look like five years down the road, New York Post, June 11, 2022, “We’ll be seeing the impact of climate change on our everyday lives on a much more regular basis,” said Maureen Raymo, director of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Co-Founding Dean of the Columbia Climate School. “In five years, it’ll be a little warmer, more frequent heat waves, extreme rain like Ida more often, and hurricanes that do reach us will be more severe.”

Massive amount of water found below Antarctica's ice sheet for 1st time, CTV News, June 8, 2022, "The Empire State Building up to the antenna is about 420 metres (1,378 feet) tall," [Chloe] Gustafson, who did the research as a graduate student at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said in the statement.  "At the shallow end, our water would go up the Empire State Building about halfway. At the deepest end, it's almost two Empire State Buildings stacked on top of each other. This is significant because subglacial lakes in this area are two to 15 metres (6.6 to 49 feet) deep. That's like one to four stories of the Empire State Building."

Is This the Oldest Tree in the World?, LiveScience, June 7, 2022, Quotes Lamont scientist Ed Cook.

Is the World’s Oldest Tree Growing in a Ravine in Chile?, Science, May 20, 2022, Others will be harder to convince. Dendrochronologists have traditionally viewed counts of actual rings as the gold standard for determining a tree’s age. “The ONLY way to truly determine the age of a tree is by dendrochronologically counting the rings and that requires ALL rings being present or accounted for,” Ed Cook, a founding director of the Tree Ring Laboratory at Columbia University, wrote in an email.

Why Are Wet-Bulb Temperatures So Dangerous?, Ground Report (India), June 5, 2022, Quotes Lamont scientist Radley Horton.

The Deep History and Uncertain Future of a Marsh on the Hudson, Places Journal, June 1, 2022, Coauthored by GISS/Lamont scientist Dorothy Peteet.

Community-Led Science Uncovers High Pollution From Fracking in Ohio County, Environmental News Network, June 6, 2022, Article on research led by Lamont grad student Garima Raheja.


Heat, Storm, Drought, Fire: Prolonged Climate Extremes as Cool La Niña Pacific Pattern Persists By Andrew Revkin, June 13, 2022, “As the tropical Pacific stays stuck in a cool phase, dangerous patterns persist worldwide.”

The Research Begins: Dropping Instruments Into the Abyss By Brandon Shuck, June 10, 2022, Aboard the R/V Marcus G. Langseth, Expedition MGL2204’s science team has started deploying ocean-bottom seismometers.

Looking for the Origin of Slow Earthquakes in the Guerrero Gap By Anne Bécel, June 07, 2022, “We are underway on our 48-day long expedition offshore of the west coast of Mexico near Acapulco, where the young Cocos oceanic plate dives beneath the North American plate.”

Hello Friends,

Summer has arrived and that means a new cohort of undergraduate summer interns has also arrived on campus. Please join us today as Lamont greets the 2022 Lamont Summer Interns with a welcome party co-hosted by the program coordinators Dallas Abbott, Adjunct Research Scientist in MGG, Michael Kaplan, LRP in Geochemistry, and graduate student mentors Clara Chang and Bennett Slibeck.  For ten weeks, between June 2nd and August 2nd, this group of 33 up-and-coming researchers will carry out interdisciplinary research and educational activities under the guidance and mentorship of our scientific staff. Everyone is welcome to attend the various events scheduled for the Summer Interns.  The program will culminate with the students' oral presentations and posters on their research and experience at Lamont.  For additional information, please get in touch with Dallas Abbott.

This week congratulations go to both a senior and a junior colleague. Steve Goldstein, Higgins Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences in DEES, will receive the 2022 Great Teacher Award from the Society of Columbia Graduates.  This is an award given yearly, since 1949, to one faculty member in Arts and Sciences and one in Engineering. On the Society’s website: “The recipients are selected… based on the professors’ abilities to stimulate, challenge and inspire undergraduate students; for their demonstrated interest in students; their ability to relate positively to students outside the classroom; and for their recognized standing in their respective academic disciplines.” This is the first time the award has gone to one of our faculty! The ceremony and reception will take place during Reunion Weekend, at Faculty House on Saturday, June 11 at 4:00-5:15 PM. Steve invites anyone who happens to be in the area at that time to come by and celebrate with him!

Congratulations also go to graduate student Sam Bartusek who has been awarded a NASA FINESST (Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology) grant for his research on “Causal Mechanisms of Dry and Humid Heat Extremes”.  Sam works with Mingfang Ting, LRP and OCP Associate Director, on projects relating to summer heat waves and their mechanisms.  Sam, I’m putting you on speed-dial for when the inevitable calls for comment on heat domes and extreme heat waves come in!

Two particularly interesting events are coming up next week.  First, the Hudson River Field Station will be participating in World Fish Migration Day on June 11th from 10 to noon at the end of the Piermont Pier.  Bring the kids—it will be fun and you might get wet.  This event launches a summer of Science Saturdays on the pier starting on June 18th.  The second event is part of the “Emerging Voices in the Geosciences & Society Series” which starts on Tuesday, June 7th.  At 4:00 PM, Columbia Climate School's Office of Research will sponsor the first lecture in the series that will feature Dr. Mika Tosca, Associate Professor of Climate Science at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Dr. Tosca will lead a discussion on "Imagining a post-climate-crisis future: Art, design, climate change, and overcoming the apocalypse narrative". Register here to attend in person at Lerner Hall, Room 569, Morningside Campus, or to attend via Zoom. For additional information, please contact Natalie Trotta.

In other news this week, Lamont hosted a visit by staff members of the Climate Solutions Foundation Congressional Delegation and the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia. The group toured the Core Repository, the Rock Mechanics Lab and the Tree Ring Lab, wrapping up in the Directorate with coffee and a discussion of climate policy and how to best effect progress on the climate crisis across our nation.  Special thanks to Nichole Anest, Christine McCarthy, and Edward Cook for leading the lab tours and sharing their research with our guests.

I’ll end by sharing the sad news that Dr. Kuo, who we helped celebrate his 100th birthday barely two months ago, passed less than a month later on April 29th.  His daughters conveyed how joyous his centennial was and expressed their thanks and best wishes to the Lamont community.

Please have a peaceful weekend.  I am transitioning to a summer schedule of fortnightly newsletters but please keep the updates and news coming. 

Best, Mo



Weather’s unwanted guest: Nasty La Nina keeps popping up, Associated Press, May 28, 2022, What’s bothering many scientists is that their go-to climate simulation models that tend to get conditions right over the rest of the globe predict more El Ninos, not La Ninas, and that’s causing contention in the climate community about what to believe, according to Columbia University climate scientist Richard Seager and MIT hurricane scientist Kerry Emanuel.

Next two articles: Ohio Air Pollution Study by Garima Raheja, Lamont PhD candidate, and colleagues.

Ohio Community Finds High Air Pollution Levels Missed By EPA Instruments, Meteorological Technology, May 27, 2022

Sensors Identify Emissions Missed by Expensive EPA Instruments, Espanol News, May 26, 2022

Sandstorm wave sweeps Middle East, sending thousands to hospitals, The Washington Post, May 26, 2022, Benjamin Cook, an environmental scientist at Columbia University’s Climate School, said three elements are needed for a sandstorm to take off: wind, a source of dust where there is little to no vegetation, and very dry conditions.

Water scarcity in a changing climate: will droughts get worse?, Climate Feedback. May 20, 2022, Features Lamont/GISS scientist Benjamin Cook.


Aurora Barone Looks for Equitable Ways to Cut Carbon Emissions By Alexis Earl, May 31, 2022, “A graduate of Columbia’s Environmental Science and Policy program, Barone works as an economics and policy analyst for Environmental Defense Fund.”

Sylhet City, Geology, and Packing Up By Mike Steckler, May 27, 2022, “We finished our electromagnetic survey and mini-field school in northern Sylhet, Bangladesh, with lectures and field trips to see the geology by car and boat.”

Hello Friends,

Please join me in congratulating Yuxin Zhou who successfully defended his PhD thesis on “Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation instabilities during the last glacial cycle” yesterday.  Yuxin’s committee included his advisor Prof. Jerry McManus of DEES, as well as Profs. Robert Anderson, Ryan Abernathey, Sidney Hemming, and Dr. Alan Condron, an Associate Scientist from WHOI.  Yuxin will be heading to the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he will be starting a postdoctoral position. Congratulations Dr. Zhou!

Also join me in thanking Miriam and the café crew for organizing another successful Wednesday Street Food Festival, the second in a summer series. A combination of delicious food and good music delivered by Richie and Laura, gorgeous weather, and your participation made this event a success. Stay tuned for our upcoming June event rumored to be Pride Month themed. 

At last month’s NY Environmental Champion Award event I met another honoree, a local artist named Timothy Englert who I invited to come visit Lamont this past Wednesday.  Tim is a woodcrafter who makes amazing log benches and tables and specializes in building outdoor classrooms.  You can see some of his work here including the impressive Knickerbocker bench, evocative of depression era Civilian Conservation Corp construction.  We walked the campus for an hour or so and Tim also made time to visit the folks at the Tree Ring Lab.  We agreed to brainstorm potential collaborations and Tim followed up with an email that included the following: “Were I to conjure the perfect setting for me to create not just a gathering space (or three), but also the type of partnership that exemplifies the depth of knowledge, beauty, reverence, understanding, and practical action that I hope such spaces could nurture, then I’d be hard pressed to find a more suitable candidate than Lamont. I don’t think my feet touched the ground during most of my visit.”  I hope we find a path forward to building an inspiring outdoor classroom in some shady glade on campus.

I’ll end by acknowledging that it has been a tough, emotionally-draining week across the nation. I took some small amount of solace and pleasure in the Happy Daisy picture.  Thank you, Margaret, for sharing.

Have a restorative Memorial Day Weekend.   Mo 



The Rockland County Town of Orangetown's Impact On The World, Patch, May 25, 2022, Moving on to the Columbia University's Scientific Research Center, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in the Orangetown hamlet of Palisades since 1949. Its mission is "developing fundamental climate and earth sciences vis a vis the origin, evolution and future of the natural world." Need I say more?

Groundwater Discovered in Sediments Buried Deep Under Antarctic Ice, National Science Foundation, May 24, 2022, Article on research by Lamont scientists Kerry Key and Chloe Gustafson. 

‘Megadrought’ threatens water and power supplies to millions in US, Financial Times, May 22, 2022, Jason Smerdon, a Columbia University climate scientist, described "scary" drought conditions in the south-west states. "All emissions scenarios suggest increased warming in the south-west and therefore increased drying," he said.... 


Community-Led Science Uncovers High Air Pollution From Fracking in Ohio County By Sarah Fecht, May 25, 2022, In a collaboration that included Columbia researchers, Belmont County residents set up a low-cost sensor network that is helping them fight for clean air. 

Start of the Mini-Field School By Mike Steckler, May 20, 2022, “We were joined in our electromagnetic investigation of the subsurface and earthquake hazard by a group of US and Bangladeshi students and professors for a mini-Field School.” 

Hello Friends,

What a stunningly beautiful day we had Wednesday for Columbia’s first in-person graduation in three years!  It was such a privilege to be seated, with my three Climate School co-deans, on the stage facing the thousands of students and family members stretching in every possible direction.  To share a stage with Patti Smith, Hillary Clinton, Yo-Yo Ma, and Jodi Kantor was a real thrill.  The students chanting “speech! speech!” got the desired result, with an impromptu address from Secretary Clinton after receiving her honorary degree (normally, the degree recipients do not address the crowd).  Overall, it was an incredibly joyous day with lots of great karma saturating the ether.

Another lovely annual event that occurred this week, also back in person for the first time in almost three years, was Lamont’s Neighbors Reception held on Monday, May 16th.  We hosted a cocktail party in Comer for 45 local community leaders, elected officials, and neighbors from surrounding towns. After a warm welcome from yours truly, our guests enjoyed “speed” presentations on the Hudson River Field Station and educational programs with Margie Turrin, Senior Staff Associate in MGG, followed by Hudson River health with Andrew Juhl, LRP in BPE, followed by Catskills water resource and climate history with William D’Andrea, also an LRP in BPE, wrapping up with local air quality research with Róisín Commane, Assistant Professor in DEES. I hope you see the theme—namely, the impactful work our scientists are doing in our own backyard! 

Later on, over wine and appetizers, our neighbors had the opportunity to mingle with the presenters and others on our scientific staff, learning even more about the research going on at Lamont.  One neighbor asked if he could intern in a lab!  A very special thanks to the development staff in particular for pulling off such a great event!  And, if you see some new plantings around campus this week, including lavender and lilacs, they are the “décor” we ordered for the event in lieu of cut flowers.

In other news, Suzanne Carbotte, Bruce Heezen Lamont Research Professor in MGG, stepped down from her role as P&C Chair and assumed the role of MGG Associate Director as of May 16.  Suzana Camargo, Marie Tharp Lamont Research Professor in OCP, has agreed to Chair the P&C Committee.  We also have a new meeting space available on campus.  Lamont's new Storke Conference Room in the Machine Shop building is open for reservations. The room can accommodate about 25 people depending on the layout. The current setup is for round table meetings. In addition, there is a wall-mounted large screen monitor, a kitchenette next to the conference room, and a cloakroom down the hallway. There is also a large picnic table outside that can be used for breaks. Parking for cars and bicycles is available, and I’ll add the reminder that there is a bike repair station located nearby as well.  Watch out for dive-bombing swallows!

I hope you will join us in celebrating AAPI (Asian American/Pacific Islander) Heritage Month.  The Climate School is sponsoring two exciting events this spring and summer.  The first is a "Lunch and Learn Event" on June 13th from 1-2pm with Dr. Han Ren, who will speak about "Empowerment During Racial Injustice: Mental Health in the AAPI Community".  There will be an in-person option, and a remote option as well.  If you are interested in attending, please RSVP to Cassie Xu ([email protected]) by Friday, May 20th.  Please indicate in your RSVP if you are attending in person or remotely. 

The second event will be with Emily Roh, an antiracist life coach and facilitator, who will speak about "Building an Asian-American Community."  They are currently holding July 6, 7, or 8 from 12pm-1:30pm ET on the speaker's calendar, and they ask that interested attendees RSVP to Cassie Xu ([email protected]) by Friday, May 20th with your date/time preference.  For this pilot workshop, they are inviting Asian American members of the Climate School to help create and foster a safe space to share ideas about identity, inclusion, and diversity in our community.  For future workshops, the invitation will be extended to a larger group.  This event will only have an in-person component and will be limited to 30 individuals.

Finally, I am excited to announce a new seminar initiative out of the Office of Research: Emerging Voices in the Geosciences and Society. In partnership with Lamont’s Seminar Diversity Initiative, and generously supported by the Climate School’s DEIA Pilot Grants, Emerging Voices provides a venue for a diverse set of speakers to share their research, outreach, and community-centered activities with the Climate School community. The inaugural seminar will take place on Tuesday, June 7th at 4pm with a talk by Dr. Mika Tosca (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) on "Imagining a post-climate-crisis future: Art, design, climate change, and overcoming the apocalypse narrative.” The seminar will be in person at Lerner Hall - please register here.

Have a lovely weekend, perhaps learning about lazy bears and confused birds. 

Best, Mo



Lazy Bears and Confused Birds: What a Warming Planet Means for Wildlife, Environmental News Network, May 16, 2022, Natalie Boelman ’04GSAS, an ecologist at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, has spent more than a decade monitoring wildlife in the region, seeking to understand how animals are responding and adapting to the rising temperatures. Not content to follow a single species, as many ecologists do, Boelman has overseen a series of large studies to assess how the entire biome is being altered by climate change.

NYC to be hit by 'multiple' thunderstorms as tornadoes and winds forecast for the tri-state area, Daily Mail, May 16, 2022, This year's season, due to start June 1, will be particularly active, due to above-average sea surface temperatures, according to meteorologist Chia-Ying Lee, of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.  'When people think about more active years, it can mean more storms or the storms are more strong,' Lee told CBS News of approaching season. She said to expect both.

My Lying Eyes: We Did Start the Fire, NPR This American Life, May 16, 2022, Segment on the disastrous Paradise, Calif., wildfire, and mixed signals that child victims are getting from teachers vs. parents about the role of climate change (We supplied the scientific expertise and access to Lamont adjunct Park Williams, though we were not directly credited)

Lazy Bears, Confused Birds: What a Warming Planet Means for Wildlife, Columbia Magazine, May 12, 2022, Article on work of Lamont scientist Natalie Boelman.

Study finds cleaner air leads to more Atlantic hurricanes, AP News , May 11, 2022, “While aerosol cooling is maybe half to one-third smaller than the warming from greenhouse gases, it is about twice as effective in reducing tropical cyclone intensity compared to warming increasing it, said Columbia University climate scientist Adam Sobel, who wasn’t part of the study.”

Cities Brace for Apocalyptic Flooding As New Age of Super Storms Dawns, Newsweek, May 11, 2022, “Klaus Jacob, a special research scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and a former member of New York City Panel on Climate Change, says New York City is doing better than many other cities. In New Orleans, the Army Corps spent $14 billion to upgrade levees that are sinking and will soon be inadequate.”

Air Pollution Can Mean More, or Fewer, Hurricanes. Depends on Where You Live., New York Times, May 11, 2022, Quotes Lamont scientist Adam Sobel

Cleaner Air May Help Explain Why We’re Seeing So Many Atlantic Hurricanes, Philadelphia Inquirer, May 11, 2022, Quotes Lamont scientists Chia-Ying Lee and Adam Sobel


Lazy Bears and Confused Birds: What a Warming Planet Means for Wildlife By David J. Craig, May 17, 2022, In the Arctic, climate change is upsetting the migratory rhythms of many species, disrupting pollinators, and spelling trouble for ecosystems around the world.

Tea Gardens to the Rescue By Mike Steckler, May 12, 2022, “We switched to deploying our equipment for imaging faults and the structure beneath the surface to tea gardens to get away from power lines and buried the cables to protect them from gnawing foxes.”

Upcoming Scientific Fieldwork, 2022 and Beyond By Kevin Krajick, May 11, 2022, “Thumbnail descriptions of field projects on land, at sea and in the air, on every continent and every ocean.”

Hello Friends,

Well, I was barely back from vacation, getting off at Exit 4 on the PIP, telling my taxi driver to bear left on 9W, when I saw the email, subject line “Bear Video”, from Howie Matza.  A bear!  This was exciting and I immediately launched the attached video, barely containing my excitement from Max sitting in my lap.  Seeing the big black bear, bearing down on the guard shack, sent shivers down my spine!  The video abruptly ends, leaving me in unbearable suspense.  Did the guard see the bear?  Was the bear baring its teeth?  Did the bear try to get into the guard shack?  Night was falling, would the bear be back?  Under the clear night sky, dimly lit by starlight from Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, yes, the Big Bear and Little Bear, I peered deeply into the campus woods as my taxi glided north on 9W.  Would I bear witness to yet another sighting of one of Rockland County’s apex predators?  It was quite easy to see into the woods as the trees still barely had any leaves—however, I saw nothing unusual.  As concerns swirled in my head (just another day as director), I felt a headache coming on.  I took two Bayer aspirin and headed home, turning my attention to the two weeks of campus news that bears repeating here.  Bear with me…

Hip hip hooray to Thomas and Corey!  Last week Thomas Weiss successfully defended his PhD thesis entitled "Investigating Climate Variability over the Last Four Glacial Cycles using Surface and Thermocline Dwelling Foraminifera from the Sulu Sea in the Far Western Pacific". Thomas’s committee included his advisor LRP Braddock Linsley and DEES Professors Arnold Gordon and Jerry McManus.  Best wishes to Thomas in all his future endeavors!  And this week Corey Lesk successfully defended his thesis on “New insights on how changing hydroclimate might affect crop yields -- and a way to avoid the worst of it”. His defense committee included his advisor LRP Radley Horton, as well as LRP Mingfang Ting and Kevin Griffin and Ruth DeFries from E3B.  Corey will begin a Postdoc next month as a Neukom Fellow at Dartmouth. Congratulations, Corey!

In other news, Vicky Nazario, Director of Sponsored Projects Finance and Reporting, has stepped down as Chair of the Campus Life Committee and Andrew Goodwillie, Associate Research Scientist in the Marine/Large Programs Division, has enthusiastically agreed to be the new Chair. Please join me in thanking Vicky for her valuable contribution and welcoming Andrew to this vital role on our Campus.  Indeed, after the last few years I think we are all happy to see more “life” coming back to our wonderful campus.

From May 1 through May 6, we had a STEMSEAS group onboard the R/V Marcus G. Langseth transiting from Newport, OR to San Diego, CA. Sean Higgins, Director of the Office of Marine Operations at Lamont, reports "It was our first opportunity to host a program during transit from one port to another, with ten undergraduate students from around the country experiencing life at sea for the first time.  The group included three mentors. One of the mentors, Rafael Uribe, works at LDEO and is himself a former STEMSEAS student. The students kept an excellent blog and it was fantastic to see the impact this experience had on them". STEMSEAS is an NSF funded program led by our very own Sharon Cooper, the Education and Outreach Officer for the U.S. Science Support Program (USSSP) based at LDEO. The program is designed to take advantage of transits on a variety of U.S. Academic Research Fleet ships. The goal is to provide at-sea experiences for undergraduates who may or may not be interested in STEM and expose them to “life at sea."

Today we celebrated the Columbia Climate School’s commencement of its inaugural class of Masters students.  I felt so honored to be able to introduce the keynote speaker, Peggy Shepard, an extraordinary activist and advocate as well as the Co-Founder and Executive Director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice.  The whole event was inspiring and celebratory and fun to be a part of in my Columbia Blue regalia.  LRP Mingfang Ting, the Director of the Climate & Society program was clearly a class favorite, receiving an impressively decibel-busting round of applause.

Also this week, Robin Bell officially resigned from her role as Associate Director of the Marine Geology and Geophysics Division at Lamont.  Tomorrow she embarks on a two-year circum-navigation of the world with her husband Karl.  I’m sure I will not be the only one vicariously following their adventures.  I’m also sure that I will miss Robin’s friendship, advice, and leadership at Lamont.  Bon voyage Robin and Karl!

Speaking of foreign adventures, if not opportunities, I am delighted to mention that Lamont Research Professor Lex van Geen was recently a science visitor at the Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination in Paris, where he organized an international and well attended workshop on lead poisoning in Paris and New York. The Institute is currently accepting applications for science visitors for next year.  To apply by June 30th, please visit the Institute's website.   This is the same CU center that I visited last fall and can confirm what an amazingly enriching experience it was.

Finally, I would draw your attention to a fascinating opinion piece published in Nature Communications entitled “Crowd-sourcing observations of volcanic eruptions during the 2021 Fagradalsfjall and Cumbre Vieja events”, co-authored by Einat Lev, Lamont Associate Research Professor in SGT.  Stunning pictures abound and you will learn what the “volcanologists paradox” is.

Have a relaxing weekend.  Lots of good stuff to read below.  DEES Professor Kerry Key and graduate student Chloe Gustafson, you won the week with the global media blitz on your Science paper about the vast groundwater systems under Antarctica!

Best, Mo



Tri-State Area Bracing for More Devastating Storms as Another Hurricane Season Approaches, CBS News, Apr 14, 2022, “An active season lies ahead, according to both Kevin Reed, of Stony Brook University, and Chia-Ying Lee, of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. "When people think about more active years, it can mean more storms or the storms are more strong," Lee said.”

Cities Brace for Apocalyptic Flooding as a New Age of Super Storms Dawn, Newsweek, May 10, 2022, “Klaus Jacob, a special research scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and a former member of New York City Panel on Climate Change, says New York City is doing better than many other cities. In New Orleans, the Army Corps spent $14 billion to upgrade levees that are sinking and will soon be inadequate. And in Miami Beach, he notes, politicians are spending billions of dollars to build pumping systems that aim to mitigate the effects of street flooding during a normal rainstorm but will quickly be overwhelmed by extreme weather.”

Making New Climate Data From Old Timber, The New Yorker, May 6, 2022, Article on the Lamont Tree Ring Lab, with scientists Caroline Leland, Mukund Rao, and Ed Cook. 

Antarctic Groundwater Study by Lamont Scientist Kerry Key, and Graduate Chloe Gustafson, Graduate Student, DEES 

Lamont-Doherty – Antarctic Groundwater System Study by Kerry Key, Chloe Gustafson, La Razon (Mexico), May 9, 2022, Gigantic Subterranean Water System That Could Affect Climate Is Discovered 

Gigantic Water Reservoir Found Under Antarctic Glacier, GMX (Germany), May 9, 2022 

Within Sediments in Antarctica, A Giant Groundwater System, National Geographic Indonesia, May 9, 2022 

Scientists Fund First Underground Reservoir in Antarctica, Super Interessante (Brazil), May 9, 2022 

Ancient ground water discovered deep below Antarctic ice., The Washington Examiner, May 9, 2022, “A team of scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory first found evidence of the groundwater system during a six-week field trip to Antarctica in 2018. Using a technique called magnetotelluric imaging, the team mapped sediments under Whillans Ice Stream. The stream is one of several large, fast-moving rivers of ice flowing from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet into the Ross Ice Shelf.” 

Groundwater Discovered in Sediments Buried Deep Beneath Antarctic Ice, Sci Tech, May 8, 2022, “A team of scientists from Scripps Oceanography and Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory led the project. Gustafson and six co-authors reported their findings in the May 6, 2022, issue of the journal Science.” 

Giant Groundwater System Discovered in Sediments Beneath Antarctic Ice, The Explorist, May 8, 2022 

Scientists Discover Giant Groundwater System Beneath Antarctica’s Ross Ice, May 8, 2022 

Scientists Discover Huge Water Reservoir in Antarctica, Polar Journal, May 8, 2022 

Groundwater Discovered in Sediments Buried Deep Beneath Antarctic Ice, Sci Tech, May 8, 2022 

Scientists Discover Massive Reservoir of Water Under Antarctic Ice, Axios, May 7, 2022 

Lamont-Doherty – Antarctic Groundwater Study by Kerry Key, Chloe Gustafson, Cosmos (Australia), May 6, 2022  

In Sediments Below Antarctic Ice, Scientists Discover a Giant Groundwater System, Environmental News Network, May 6, 2022 

Vast Underground Water System Drives Antarctic Glaciers, Ars Technica, May 6, 2022 

Breakthrough discovery of groundwater beneath Antarctic ice sheet - and what it may mean for sea level riseIndependent (UK), May 5, 2022 

Vast reservoir of water discovered under the ice in AntarcticaNew Scientist (UK), May 5, 2022 

‘Giant MRI of Antarctica’ Reveals ‘Fossil Seawater’ Beneath Ice Sheet, LiveScience, May 5, 2022 

Huge groundwater system discovered below the Antarctic ice could influence how it reacts to climate change, Daily Mail (UK), May 5, 2022 

A Vast Underground Water System Helps Drive Antarctica’s GlaciersWired, May 5, 2022 

Immense Reservoir of Fossil Seawater Found Under Antarctic Ice Shelf, IFL Science, May 5, 2022 

A Huge Subterranean Water System Is Discovered Under the Antarctic Ice, EFE (Spain), May 5, 2022, (wire service report; widely syndicated) 

A Vast Reservoir of Water Has Been Hiding Under Antarctic Ice, Researchers Confirm, Inverse, May 5, 2022 

Giant Groundwater System Discovered Beneath, May 5, 2022 

Massive Amount of Water Discovered Beneath Antarctic Ice Sheet for First Time, CNN, May 5, 2022 

Huge Groundwater System Discovered Under Antarctica, Gizmodo, May 5, 2022 

Scientists Discover Huge Reserve Under Antarctica, Enough to Submerge State of Unity, India Today, May 5, 2022


Dealing With Rain and Rats By Michael StecklerMay 9, 2022“As we continued our geophysical measurements, we had to deal with heavy rains, flooding fields, and rats and foxes biting our cables. Many cables were broken soon after sunset, ruining the measurements.” 

In Sediments Below Antarctic Ice, Scientists Discover a Giant Groundwater System By Kevin Krajick, May 05, 2022, “For the first time, scientists have mapped in detail water locked in a deep basin far under the Antarctic ice. The discovery could have implications for how the continent reacts to, or even contributes to, climate change.” 

Maureen Raymo is on vacation this week.  Please enjoy the links to articles and blogs below.  

LDEO Directorate



Massive amount of water found below Antarctica's ice sheet for 1st time, CNN, May 5, 2022, “We imaged from the ice bed to about five kilometers (3.1 miles) and even deeper," said coauthor Kerry Key, an associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at Columbia University, in a separate statement.”

Clues from the Sea Paint a Picture of Earth’s Water Cycle, EOS-Science News from AGU, May 4, 2022, “We are grateful to Kerstin Lehnert and the EarthChem team at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory and Carrie Morrill and Bruce Bauer at NOAA Paleoclimatology for providing opportunities to host the new database.”

Did Land Temperatures in India and Pakistan Reach 140 F?, Snopes, May 3, 2022, Features CIESIN postdoc Cascade Tuholske and Lamont scientist Radley Horton.

Meltwater Rivers Could Endanger Antarctic Ice Shelves, Discover, April 29, 2022, Article on research by DEES/Lamont graduate student Alexandra Boghosian.

The Big Myth About Global Warming You Need to Stop Believing, SlashGear, April 29, 2022, Cites Lamont scientist Wally Broecker.

Researchers Examined Ancient Sheep Poop, and We Don’t Know Who Settled the Faroe Islands,, Undisciplined (Utah Public Radio), April 28, 2022, Podcast about study by Lamont scientists Lorelei Curtin and William D’Andrea.


In Sediments Below Antarctic Ice, Scientists Discover a Giant Groundwater System By Kevin Krajick, May 5, 2022, “Previously Unmapped Reservoirs Could Speed Glaciers, Release Carbon”

Fieldwork in Bangladesh During the End of Ramadan and Eid Festival By Michael Steckler, May 3, 2022, “We have come to in Bangladesh in the pre-monsoon heat to better image the active faults beneath the surface using electromagnetic instruments. We are using the fallow fields from the just-harvested rice crop for our sites.”

Hello Friends,

I am delighted to share that due to the generosity of two donors, Dr. Peter Joseph and the Estate of Donald Beane, we are able to offer two Early Career Development Fellowships for Lamont Assistant Research Professors. Sarah Hurley, LARP in the Biology and Paleo Environment Division, has been awarded the Peter Joseph Career Development Fellowship, and Jennifer Middleton, LARP in the Geochemistry Division has been awarded the Donald Beane Career Development Fellowship. The fellowships will provide added salary and research support for the next two years.  Congratulations to both Sarah and Jennifer.

Congratulations also to Aaron Stubblefield, who successfully defended his PhD thesis on “Modelling the dynamics and surface expressions of subglacial water flow” on April 27th.  His committee included his advisor DEES professor Marc Spiegelman and DEES faculty members Meredith Nettles and Jonathan Kingslake. Aaron has accepted a Postdoctoral position at Dartmouth University, where we wish him much success! 

It is bittersweet to announce that Maribel Respo, Lamont's Manager of Grants & Contracts, will be taking a promotion into Morningside Sponsored Projects Administration to supervise the office's project officers. Maribel has been at the center of Lamont pre-award research for the last 27 years, helping the Directorate to craft a world-class research administrative infrastructure to bring in more and more grants and contracts. When I became Director, I was particularly impressed (although not surprised) to find out that Lamont has the highest "success rate" of winning grants of any part of Columbia, and it is clear that this achievement is in part due to Maribel's service. She leaves us in a place better than when she found us, and leaves our exceptional research community in the capable hands of the new Office of Research. I will be in touch on Monday with more specific details about pre-award administration and how we will help you develop your proposals and steward your existing grants, with our foundational commitment to customer service. But that can come on Monday. Please join me in thanking Maribel for her long service to Lamont, to the Climate School, and to Columbia, and wish her luck in her new SPA adventure. Maribel, thank you!

Spring is in the air and the birds and bees are humming.  All week, people working in Monell have reported seeing our resident fox who must live in the rocky cliff below our building.  A lone turkey also pecks around the directorate patio most days (she must have appreciated our Jardetzky reception crumbs).  A particularly lovely addition to our campus are three new swallow boxes installed by the pond. Twenty years after the first tree swallow nest box was installed at the north end of the pond, the Campus Life Committee, with the help of BNG, installed three additional boxes around the perimeter of the pond, in part to help alleviate bird strikes around campus. Their avian leader Linda Pistolesi, Senior Geographic Information Specialist, reported that since installing the new boxes on April 13th, they have seen more tree swallows around, and "this week was the first sighting of a pair seeming to have moved into the box opposite the new parking lot, and a wren has been singing emphatically in the vicinity of the box closer to shipping for the last week or so."  I can personally confirm through multiple sightings, on my drive in, that a nesting pair has moved in to this fancy new apartment!

I was told that collisions with glass cause up to one billion bird deaths annually in North America. A growing movement to require that bird-safe glass be incorporated into new construction has resulted in the Bird-Safe Buildings Act, currently moving through Congress, and the passage of similar laws in several states and localities (including NYC in 2019).  Thank you to everyone who pitches in to help steward our natural environment and contribute to a healthy and sustainable ecosystem on campus.

Also, on your drive in, you might have noticed the odd collection of equipment sitting in the grass outside the Seismology/Marine Biology building. Terry Plank let me know that it is a test array of smart sensors for the next generation of volcano monitoring.  Built by Nick Frearson and his engineering group, and funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for the AVERT project (Anticipating Volcanic Eruptions in Realtime), these seismometers, cameras and GNSS sensors sport two major advancements. One is that they have on-board computers, which enables edge computing like triggering or imaging algorithms in near real time. The other is that the data are being transmitted by radio and then by satellite (currently from one side of Lamont to the southern hemisphere then to a server at another side of Lamont), which enables real time, open data feeds from remote locations. The arrays will be deployed on Okmok and Cleveland volcanoes in the Aleutian Islands this summer. Don't forget to wave to the cameras as you drive by!  For more on this project, see:

Finally, today Lamont hosted the annual First-Year Colloquium, with 15-minute AGU-style talks by 15 first-year PhD students. After the presentations, I hope everyone can join the students and attendees to enjoy a reception sponsored by DEES and LDEO.  I also want to thank folks for all the positive feedback on the Lamont Street Food Festival, which took place on Wednesday and hosted about 65 people.  Based on that feedback we are planning to hold these events monthly through the summer and the Office of Research has offered to sponsor the next one.  Join me in thanking Miriam Cinquegrana, as well as Richie, Laura, and Angela from our cafeteria for the excellent job and enthusiasm for catering the event! 

Please look for our new swallow friends on the way out today.

Best, Mo



7 ocean mysteries scientists haven’t solved yet, Vox, Apr 22, 2022, Understanding the sea is to understand our planet better, at a fundamental level. “There’s so much about how the planet works that is basically preserved in this sort of underwater museum,” Vicki Ferrini, a senior research scientist at Columbia University, told Vox’s Mandy Nguyen last year.

Nordic terroir threatens to leave Britain's wine dreams withering on the vine, The Telegraph, April 23, 2022, ..."We're really starting to see the impacts of climate change in places like California, Southern Europe and mainland Australia," says Benjamin Cook, from the Columbia Climate School. … "They're already growing the varieties of grapes which can deal with the hottest climates, and so much more global warming has the potential to really degrade the climate in these regions and simply make it much more difficult." A significant change is coming down the line....

Climate Change Will Force People Out of Their Homes — But Where Will They Go?, NBC LX, April 21, 2022, “More demand for real estate inland drives up costs and forces out lower-income residents. That inspired researchers Jesse Keenan from Tulane University and Marco Tedesco from Columbia University to come up with a new term for the trend: climate gentrification. “


Climate School Dean Receives Environmental Champion Award By Caroline Adelman, April 26, 2022, Maureen Raymo, co-founding dean of the Columbia Climate School and director at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, received an Environmental Champion Award from NY State Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick”

What Is Decarbonization, and How Do We Make It Happen? By Renee Cho, April 22, 2022, “To keep the planet from warming more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, economies must rapidly decarbonize. What will this involve?”

Hello Friends,

Happy Earth Day!!!  I cannot help but think about the scorching summer of 1988 as I was wrapping up my doctoral thesis at Lamont.  Jim Hansen testified about global warming in front of Congress, the IPCC was formed to generate the first of what would be many assessments of the state of climate science—and, the United Nations passed a resolution endorsing “the protection of global climate for present and future generations of mankind.”  Skipping ahead to over 30 years later, we now know it is “Code Red” for the planet.  Despites dozens of COPs and agreements, protocols, and accords, we have still not managed to turn the trajectory of carbon emissions.  My generation has failed in its obligation to protect our planet and we must redouble our efforts to train, educate, support, and empower a new generation of leaders.  It is a mission LDEO and DEES have always excelled in, and it is something that the newly established Columbia Climate School will build on further.

This Earth Day I’d like to thank all my colleagues at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory for their collective efforts in reaching a better understanding of our Mother Earth—from minerals in the deepest reaches of the planet, to the majestic polar ice sheets, to the toxic pollutants in our backyard. This campus and our community were founded almost 75 years ago.  I took over the Directorship of Lamont at the beginning of the COVID pandemic in 2020, and much of the last two years has been focused on supporting scientists, staff, and students during a time of immense personal and institutional challenges. But now that we are entering a different phase of the pandemic and it is time to start looking ahead, moving Lamont towards a vision for what it will be in the next 75 years.

And speaking of Lamont’s future, I would be remiss if I did not reflect on the incredibly inspiring Lamont Strategic Vision Implementation Town Hall we had on April 18th.  Hosted by Deputy Director David Goldberg and Associate Director of MGG Robin Bell, the town hall reviewed the formation of our Strategic Plan (led by Christine McCarthy), followed by presentations on Vision Implementation Plans by the Co-Chairs of the five different Vision Implementation Teams.  They were: Coastal Resilience by Christopher Zappa; Geohealth by Daniel Westervelt; Disaster Resilience by Suzana Camargo; Habitable Earth/Planets by Alberto Malinverno; and Earth’s Carbon and Decarbonization by Catalina Sanchez-Roa.  The presentations were followed by an active Q&A session that stretched the Town Hall by 30 minutes.  It was incredibly inspiring to hear these presentations and see how traditional silos and barriers are being broken down across the divisions of Lamont and the university at large.  The next step is sending these documents and recommendations to a Vision Implementation Review Team, who will take these individual plans and craft them into a more unified roadmap for strategic investment and effort decisions over the coming years. Thank you to everyone for their participation in this critical community effort!

I am happy to report that Congyu Yu successfully defended his PhD thesis yesterday on “Fossil, data, and information driven paleontology”.  Congratulations Congyu!  Congyu’s committee included his advisor Jin Meng, Curator-in-Charge, Fossil Mammals at the AMNH, as well as Paul Olsen, Arthur D. Storke Memorial Professor and Nicholas Christie-Blick, Professor in DEES.  Congratulations also to Patty Catanzaro whoafter 50 years at Lamont, mostly as a draftsperson in the Geochemistry Division, retired on April 19th.  A group of Patty’s colleagues in the Geochemistry Division, led by Moanna St. Clair, Division Administrator, and including Jerry McManus, Bob Anderson, Marty Fleisher, Sid Hemming, Steve Goldstein, and Dave Walker, shared the following words of appreciation about her long service to Lamont:

"It is often the case that a few special individuals have an overwhelmingly large positive impact on an institution. Patty Catanzaro surely qualifies as one of those. For 49 years at Lamont, she has been a constant ray of sunshine as well as an amazingly talented artist. Patty Catanzaro started working (drafting, typing, and microscope work) at Lamont in 1960 – 1962 for Dr. Alan W. H. Be. Working at Lamont was a family affair, as her dad (Stanley Harrison) worked in the Lamont machine shop and her daughter (Kathleen Catanzaro Tosi) worked 15 years for Rusty Lotti in the New Core Lab. Patty met her eventual husband Eddie Catanzaro (a JL Kulp graduate student) at Lamont and moved with him to DC. She returned to LDEO in 1975 to work in Geochemistry once Eddie took a job at Fairleigh Dickinson; it was then that she began her illustrious drafting career at Lamont."

"Patty served as the Geochemistry draftsperson for many years when services like secretarial, bookkeeping, electronics etc. were pooled. Patty was always many PIs’ favorite person 'up front' in the old Geochemistry Building, where such services were ensconced near Wally Broecker’s office. Although in later years Wally kept her busy, Patty always found a way to help all who needed graphics jobs.  Many Lamonters today may not remember a time before computer graphics but that is how Patty worked for decades, and most members of Geochemistry depended on her to illustrate their talks and publications. Not only was she a wonderfully nice individual, she was extremely expert at her craft, which included drafting figures for publication, occasionally with her own drawings.  Moreover, she kept her graphics skills updated, becoming an expert and resource to our division in computer graphics. Patty turned graphics into art - Wally’s Angry Beast cartoon was a Patty Catanzaro creation.  A Lamont institution is stepping down with Patty’s departure - her level of dedication and technical excellence establish her as a role model for all of us who follow in her footsteps. We are deeply indebted to Patty for her long and faithful service to Lamont.”

Dear Patty, from all of us at Lamont, a deep and heartfelt thank you for your years of service to our community!

Finally, I hope everyone on campus will join us in the Monell Auditorium today for the 23rd Annual Jardetzky Lecture.  Prof. Karen Fischer from Brown University will give the Lecture on “Understanding the Asthenosphere”, that will be followed by a reception on the Directorate patio on the south side of Monell.  I will not be able to stay long afterwards as I will be traveling to Ossining to accept a Champion of the Environment Award from NY State Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick.  It will be with great pleasure that I use this opportunity to both highlight the amazing work our scientists do in the region and continue to build the partnerships we need to achieve a more sustainable, healthy world.

Happy Earth Day!




NY to spend $638M on clean water projects, upgrades to aging sewers. Which cities will get funding, The Journal News, April 21, 2022, In 2016, researchers from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University found evidence of an assortment of pharmaceuticals – drugs to treat blood pressure, cholesterol and other ailments – in the Hudson River.

NY to Spend $638M on Clean Water Projects, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, April 20, 2022, In 2016, researchers from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University found evidence of an assortment of pharmaceuticals – drugs to treat blood pressure, cholesterol and other ailments – in the Hudson River.

Two Thirds of Community Water Systems in US Contain Uranium, Amsterdam News, April 20, 2022, Research coauthored by Lamont scientists Steven Chillrud and Ben Bostick.

A Quiet Section of the San Andreas Fault Once Had Big Quakes, Temblor, April 19, 2022, Article on a San Andreas Fault Study by Stephen Cox, Lamont Associate Research Scientist, Genevieve Coffey, Columbia University Department of Earth of Environmental Sciences PhD Graduate, now at GNS Science.


Behind the Podcast ‘How We Got Here' By Elise Gout, April 21, 2022, “Scientists Stephanie Spera and Rachel Lupien demystify how different professionals are addressing the climate crisis, one career path and podcast episode at a time.”

Defying Some Expectations, Southern Ocean Did Not Increase Carbon Uptake in Ice Ages By Columbia Climate School, April 19, 2022, “In much of the world ocean, there is evidence that iron-rich dust blowing from land has fertilized algae during cold period, increasing uptake of carbon from the air, and keeping things frigid. Not here, says a new study.”

At 90, Still Studying Ancient Pollen By Sarah Fecht, April 15, 2022, “Lamont’s Linda Heusser turned 90 years old on April 12, and the only birthday present she really wanted was another sediment core to study.”

Hello Friends,

I am very happy to announce that Mr. Mackenzie Carr has joined our team as the new Assistant Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-Bias (DEIA).  Mackenzie comes to us from Hannam University in South Korea, where he was the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Campus Coordinator and the Cultural Awareness Assistant Professor.  He has worked as a DEI coordinator/Cultural Awareness professor for over eight years, and also as an ESL certified teacher for two years for grades K-12. In addition to teaching international students, he has a background in advancing DEIA efforts with clients from diverse and multicultural settings in the workplace as well as within the community.  Please join me in welcoming Mackenzie to our team!

Also this week, on Wednesday, we welcomed Orangetown Supervisor Ms. Teresa Kenny to our Lamont campus.  We gave Ms. Kenny a brief presentation on the world-class research taking place on site and the positive impact that our campus has on Rockland County.  Lamont Research Professor Andy Juhl gave a fantastic presentation on his monitoring of Hudson River water quality and implications for where investments could be made to improve regional water health.  With these visits, our aim is to foster more collaborations and partnerships across the county and state, elevating our visibility as a trusted scientific partner and community member. 

I’m guessing many of you have noticed the broadly advertised call for nominations for the 2023 Vetlesen Prize.  The “Call for Nominations” is popping up on the AGU website banner as well as on the Science and Nature websites.  Email blasts and written invitations for nominations have also gone out. The Vetlesen Prize was established in 1959 by The G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation and is administered by Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. It recognizes “scientific achievement resulting in a clearer understanding of Earth, its history, or its relation to the universe” and comes with a gold medal and a $250,000 prize.  The deadline for nominations is June 30th.  For more information about the prize and nominating criteria, visit the Vetlesen Prize website.

This Earth Month, the comms team invites you to share one or more of your best field, research, and/or campus photos. Submit your favorites via this simple form.  Select photos will once again be highlighted in our Earth Month communications under our hashtag #ColumbiaBeautifulPlanet.   This ongoing effort helps us feature your work on our websites, social media, email, and related communications platforms. Thank you for all of the amazing photos you have already provided, and we look forward to many more.  Questions?  Contact Tara Spinelli.

Today a special event was facilitated by Columbia Climate Conversations team members, Lauren Ritchie, Founder of The Eco Justice Project, Kwolanne Felix, a student at Columbia College, Kailani Acosta, PhD candidate in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and Benjamin Keisling, Postdoctoral Research Scientist at Lamont.  They hosted the first Environmental Justice Summit at Columbia University.  The event featured keynote speaker Leah Thomas, founder of Intersectional Environmentalist.  Her lecture was followed by a panel discussion featuring Jasmine Graham, Energy Justice Policy Manager for WE ACT; Daphne Frias, a 24-year-old youth activist; Whitney McGuire. Esq., mother, New York state licensed attorney, legal and sustainability consultant & strategist, and co-founder of Sustainable Brooklyn; and Ayisha Siddiqa, a Pakistani environmentalist and human rights advocate, as well as co-founder of Polluters Out and Fossil Free University.  The event, held in Lerner Hall, focused on representation and inclusivity in environmental spaces and “dive deeper into housing injustice, bottom-up climate action, and systemic inequity”.

Finally, two dates….please mark your calendars for Saturday, October 8th, as the return of an in-person Open House. You will be hearing from the event planning team in the coming weeks.  Second, please note the W.S. Jardetzky Lecture is this coming Friday, April 22nd, and will feature Prof. Karen Fischer, the Louis and Elizabeth Scherck Distinguished Professor of Geological Sciences from Brown University. A reception will follow.

Happy Easter weekend. 

Best, Mo



How ancient, recurring climate changes may have shaped human evolution, Science News, April 13, 2022, The new model “provides a great framework” to evaluate ideas such as variability selection, says paleoclimatologist Rachel Lupien of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y. That’s especially true, Lupien says, if researchers can specify whether climate and ecosystem changes that played out over tens or hundreds of years were closely linked to ancient Homo migrations.

In Pursuit of Data Immortality, Nature, April 4, 2022, Article features Lamont geoinformatician Kerstin Lehnert.

At a Melting Glacier, a Landslide, Then Tsunami, Signal Climate-Related Threat, Eurasia Review, April 10, 2022, Article on study coauthored by Lamont scientist Goran Ekstrom.

Landslide and Tsunami Signal Climate-Related Threat at a Melting Glacier, Azo Cleantech, April 8, 2022, In 2020, seismologist Goran Ekström noticed a peculiar wiggle picked up on Nov. 28 by seismographs around the world. It emanated from a remote area in British Columbia's steep, glaciated Central Coast Mountains, some 2,400 miles from Ekström's office at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, in Palisades, N.Y.

Hello Friends,

Although today’s sunshine is right up there, the highlight of this week was most certainly our Mentoring and JEDI Awards ceremony held Monday, April 4th.  Our community came together to recognize and celebrate our colleagues who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to mentoring and promoting justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion at Lamont. The 17th Excellence in Mentoring Award went to Kirsty Tinto, Lamont Associate Research Professor in the Marine Geology and Geophysics Division. Her nominator Alexandra Boghosian, a post-doc in Marine Geology and Geophysics, wrote in her citation, “Kirsty Tinto is an exceptional mentor and role model who continues to have lasting impacts on her colleagues and mentees. She leads by example, proving that excellent research is propelled by both a strong sense of one’s own scientific identity as well as collaboration with others, and she encourages these qualities in her mentees.” Congratulations Kirsty! 

Dr. Jennifer Middleton, Lamont Assistant Research Professor in the Geochemistry Division, received the JEDI Award. Jenny’s nominator, Gisela Winckler, Lamont Research Professor in the Geochemistry Division, cited: “Through her leadership and vision, Jenny has had a significant impact on improving the campus climate at Lamont. Her dedication to building and maintaining a supportive community has made Lamont more welcoming to the next generation of Lamonters.” Congratulations Jenny!

Finally, congratulations to everyone who was nominated, everyone who contributed a nomination, and a special thanks to the selection committee including Vicki Ferrini, Christine Chesley, Jim Davis, Jean Hanley, Sheean Haley, Rachel Lupien, Jerry McManus, Henry Towbin, and Daniel Westervelt as well as the Directorate team for planning this special event.

And that was just Monday….there are tons more amazing accomplishments to report this week. The German Mineralogical Society (Deutsche Mineralogische Gesellschaft DMG) announced that they are awarding Dr. Kerstin Lehnert, Doherty Senior Research Scientist in Marine Geology and Geophysics Division and Director of the Geoinformatics Research Group at Lamont, the Doris-Schachner-Medal. The medal, previously known as the Abraham-Gottlob-Werner Medaille in Gold, was recently renamed in honor of a female mineralogist. Kerstin let me know that, “The DMG was the first scientific society that I joined during my undergraduate years, which makes this a special honor for me.” The Doris-Schachner Medal is the highest DMG award. Congratulations Kerstin!

Prof. Robin Bell, Palisades Geophysical Institute Lamont Research Professor, has been selected for a Fulbright award to work in Australia in academic year 2022-2023. The announcement on behalf of the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board reads, “Your grant is a reflection of your leadership and contributions to society”.  So true!   Congratulations Robin!

Garima Raheja, PhD candidate in the Department of Earth and Environmental Studies and Ocean and Climate Physics at Lamont, has been awarded a 2022 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). Garima passed her qualifying exam last week, and her paper focused on sensor inter-comparisons in locations in urban settings in Ghana and Togo. She is currently working with Dan Westervelt, on air pollution monitoring and data science techniques for PM2.5 in Africa. This prestigious NSF fellowship will allow her to expand her air quality environmental justice work.

And moving from graduates to high-schoolers, 2021 Lamont Summer Interns Leysha Esteves and Leonah Esteves from Peekskill High School won the Leason Ellis Team Project Award at the Regeneron Westchester Engineering and Science Fair on April 5th. In a message to Lamont Research Professor Joaquim Gomes and Research Scientist Helga Gomes in the BPE Division, Leysha and Leonah expressed, “thank you both so much for helping us achieve this award. We would love to work with both of you this coming summer again. We wanted to thank you for everything you have done for us by being supportive mentors and helping us throughout our study.”  Such a great story!

Finally, Dr. Catalina Sanchez-Roa, Columbia Climate Fellow and Associate Research Scientist in the Geochemistry Division at Lamont, won the best presentation award at a Gordon Research Seminar for her presentation titled “Is Carbon Mineralization a Self-perpetuating Process? Implications for the Upscaling of Geological Carbon Storage”. As a prize, Catalina presented on April 7th at their leading Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage conferenceThe Gordon Research Conferences “provide an international forum for presenting and discussing frontier research in the biological, chemical, physical and engineering sciences and their interfaces."

I’ll wrap up with the sad news that DrMuawia Barazangi passed away last week.  Muawia Barazangi was a graduate student with Lamont’s Seismology group from 1967 to 1971 where he received his PhD in seismotectonics. He had arrived with a B.S. from University of Damascus, his hometown in Syria, and an M.S. from the University of Minnesota in Applied Geophysics. While at Lamont, Muawia and Leonardo (Nano) Seeber were the first in the US to use portable micro earthquake recorders to unravel complex tectonics of the Earth’s lithosphere. They chose the Mendocino triple junction in Northwestern California as a target and succeeded after eight weeks of field work by deploying an array of very sensitive instruments to pin-point hundreds of small (micro-)earthquakes that illuminated a complex fault system; they used the first motions of seismic P-wave arrivals from these events to infer the direction of slip on the faults. Their work introduced an entirely new way to study crustal tectonics into the toolbox of structural geology.

Using the same technique, Dr. Barazangi later worked with Chris Scholz to unravel the largely extensional tectonics of the intermountain seismic belt in the western U.S., and with Jim Dorman published the first global map of seismicity, affirming the visually striking patterns of plate tectonics. He later moved to Cornell, where he worked on the crustal and lithospheric structure all around the globe from the Himalayas, Tibet, New Hebrides, the Atlas Mountains, the Western and Eastern Mediterranean, the Mideast, to the Zagros Mountains, as well as the structure and tectonics of his native Syria, among other places. From Klaus Jacob, “Lamonters may remember Muawia Barazangi for his openhearted laughter, upbeat personality, combined with a wry humor, always ready for pranks and practical jokes. He is, and always will be a Lamont alumnus, one to be proud of.”

Please keep your ears attuned to the chorus of the spring “peepers” on your way home today.

Best, Mo



Lack of Hydrogen and Helium Led to Fewer Weather Surveying Balloon Trips, The New York Times, April 5, 2022, Adam Sobel, an atmospheric scientist at Columbia University, said that while the weather service was facing a “tough situation,” he did not think their statement that there would be no impact on forecasts was credible.  “The N.W.S. claim that the loss of several radiosonde stations in a high-population region has no impact on the forecast was accompanied by no supporting evidence,” he said.

These energy innovations could transform how we mitigate climate change, and save money in the process - 5 essential reads, The Conversation, April 2, 2022, Engineers and geophysicists like David Goldberg of Columbia University are exploring ways to cut those costs by combining direct air capture technology with renewable energy production and carbon storage, like offshore wind turbines built above undersea rock formations where captured carbon could be locked away.

The Big Slide, Hakai, April 1, 2022, Story on giant landslide in British Columbia features Lamont seismologist Goran Ekstrom.


A Landslide Near a Glacier Caused a Tsunami. Was There a Climate Connection?, By Kevin Krajick, April 6, 2022, “A peculiar seismic signal was the first indication of a gigantic landslide and subsequent tsunami in the remote mountains of British Columbia. It detected what may be a growing climate-related threat.”

Struggling With Towed Equipment, Repairing GPS, and Home, By Mike Steckler, April 1, 2022, “We switched to a towed electromagnetic system to image the fresh and saline groundwater in Bangladesh, and ran into a variety of problems, including high winds, strong currents and running aground.”

Hello Friends,

It has been a very busy few weeks with many highlights.  Last Friday we were delighted to host a visit from Dr. Richard Spinrad, NOAA Administrator and Undersecretary of Commerce.  Over five hours he met with many of our scientists, discussing ideas and opportunities for the future.  Thank you to everyone who came to the Town Hall and heard the terrific lightning talks by Galen McKinley, Ajit Subramaniam, Thad Pawlowski, Suzana Camargo, Dan Westervelt, Pierre Gentine, and Jason Smerdon.  Thank you also to everyone who helped with the logistics to make this visit a success, including Jeanette Wing and her staff at the office of the Executive Vice President for Research. You can read more about the visit here

Also last week we hosted a visit from the Rockefeller Foundation.  The goal of the visit was to learn about the Columbia Climate School, its emerging priorities and explore the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory campus as well as other forward-looking climate initiatives of the Columbia Climate School. The hope is that this initial visit will be followed by a more robust visit in the future that includes Foundation President Dr. Rajiv Shah with the Foundation’s climate team.  Again, thank you to everyone who participated and volunteered their time to make this visit a success.

This week, on Monday, we welcomed the Rockland County Executive, Mr. Ed Day, and Director of Economic Development and Tourism, Ms. Lucy Redzeposki, to our Lamont campus.  We gave Mr. Day and Ms. Redzeposki a presentation on the world-renowned research taking place on our campus, as well as the positive impact that our campus has on Rockland County.  Our aim is to foster more collaborations with the county and state and to establish ways in which to grow these partnerships.  We hope to welcome more local and state government officials to our campus in the near future.

 “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”, famously said Mark Twain.  And apparently too for the death of former Director Barry Raleigh.  GSA Today goofed and the geoscience community rapidly communicated that Barry is still with us.  From his colleagues: “Barry is a vigorous and sharp 87- year-old!”  Also, I learned that Neil Opdyke was an interim director, not the second director.  The founding director of Lamont was Maurice Ewing (1949-72). He was followed by Manik Talwani (1974-81) and C. Barry Raleigh (1981-89). 

The Secondary School Field Research Program is back in person!  Lamont Associate Research Professors Ben Bostick and Einat Lev and Bob Newton, Senior Research Scientist, announced that the LDEO high school internship program will return to the Lamont campus this summer.  They are looking for mentors who can be at any stage of their career. The internship program will run July 5 - August 17.  For additional mentorship and program details, please contact Ben, Einat, or Bob. 

A few congrats need to go out.  First, to Galen McKinley, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, who was invited to join the Ocean Studies Board at the National Academy of Sciences, a distinguished community leadership position.  Second, I am delighted to announce that 2021 LDEO Summer Interns Malik Atadzhanov and Ellen Jorgensen have been elected 2022 Goldwater Scholars by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship & Excellence in Education Foundation. Malik participated in the Summer Intern program under the mentorship of Dallas Abbott and he is currently at CUNY Hunter College. Ellen participated in the Summer Intern program under the mentorship of Jerry McManus and Yuxin Zhou and she is currently at Syracuse University.

Thirdly, we celebrate a notable birthday on Friday, April 1—Professor Emeritus John T. Kuo turns 100 years old today. Professor Kuo was the Maurice Ewing and J. Lamar Worzel Professor of Geophysics at Columbia. He retired in 1993 and was succeeded in that named chair by Enders Robinson, another major figure in geophysics. Kuo was the Director of the Aldridge Laboratory of Applied Geophysics at Columbia, and had a long association with Lamont.  Dr. Kuo performed research in a wide variety of areas, from seismic surface waves to exploration geophysics and geology, to the Earth and ocean tides, gravity, and crustal strain. He was widely recognized for his advances in finite-element elastic modeling. At the time he retired, Professor Kuo was a PI of the INDEPTH experiment, a major project to perform deep profiling of Tibet and the Himalayas. Professor Kuo's daughter, architect Sonya Kuo, writes that Professor Kuo continues to work daily on new ideas and his research. Happy birthday, Professor Kuo!

Finally, I am pleased to point everyone to the new website of the Climate School's Office of Research which launched today.  This Phase 1 site is just a starting template and over the summer will enter Phase 2, expanding to include many new programs to support proposal development success, new pre-award procedures and policy guidance, events to promote training in leadership and research skills, opportunities for engaging federal and industry sponsors (such as last week's NOAA Town Hall), and much more. The new weekly "Find Funding" newsletters will also start going out next week, so stay tuned!  Please send any feedback about the Office of Research's website or newsletter, or indeed anything to Marley Bauce, Associate Dean for Research, at [email protected].

Happy April Fool’s Day,  




Wally Broecker Divined How the Climate Could Suddenly Shift, Science News, March 29, 2022, Article on Lamont scientist Wally Broecker’s work on abrupt climate change; also features Lamont scientist Dorothy Peteet.

What Is the Last Arctic Ice Area?, BBC Mundo, March 22, 2022, Article on research led by Lamont scientist Bob Newton.

Why It Matters, Council on Foreign Relations, Podcast, March 17, 2022, Interview with Lamont geophysicist Klaus Jacob. “Climate Adaptation: Rising Tides in Coastal Cities. The world is already witnessing the effects of climate change. One inescapable and irreversible consequence is sea-level rise, which could destroy coastal cities. How will the world adapt to rising tides?” 

Breakdown: Why the Western megadrought is ‘the worst in 1,200 years’, Action News, March 17, 2022 , “UCLA geographer Park Williams, the study’s lead author, said with dry conditions likely to persist, it would take multiple wet years to remediate their effects” 

Alaska Volcanoes Go Offline after 'Severe' Telecoms Interruption, Newsweek, March 17, 2022, Nine volcanoes in Alaska have gone offline after a "severe interruption to a regional telecommunication link", according to officials. This means the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) cannot monitor seismic activity to ensure activity is at its normal, background state. [...] Yves Moussallam, Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University, told Newsweek that it is fairly unusual to have such a large-scale disruption. "Communication is often lost with specific instruments but not with whole networks," he said. [...] Einat Lev, Lamont Associate Research Professor at Columbia University, told Newsweek: "Volcanoes are unique among natural hazards in that they often provide precursors to eruptions. Therefore, monitoring volcanoes can provide us with the warning of an upcoming eruption, which will greatly assist with preparedness and response to an eruption." 


First Long-term Air Pollution Monitoring in Togo Reveals Concerning Levels, By Sarah Fecht, March 31, 2022, “A new study finds that annual air pollution levels in the city of Lomé are, on average, four to five times greater than recommended by the World Health Organization.”

A Key U.S. Earth-Sciences Official Visits Columbia to Explore Research Ideas, By Kevin Krajick, March 29, 2022, “Oceanographer Richard Spinrad of NOAA participated in a town hall and discussed funding opportunities with Columbia Climate School researchers.”

Continuing the Survey: Watermelon and Winds, By Mike Steckler, March 25, 2022, “Continuing our electromagnetic survey of fresh and saline groundwater, we saw the landscape change from lush watermelon fields to fallow rice fields as the salinity increased towards the sea.”

Barisal and the Eastern Channel, By Mike Steckler, March 23, 2022, “We are continuing our measurements of fresh and saline groundwater in Bangladesh using electromagnetic instruments. We finished our first set of measurements and have now shifted farther east near Barisal where groundwater is fresher.” 

Deploying in the Mangrove Forest, By Mike Steckler, March 18, 2022, “We continued our electromagnetic expedition to image fresh and saline groundwater into the Sundarbans Mangrove Forest, the world’s largest. While guards protected us from tigers, it was a wild boar that dug up some of our equipment.” 

Hello Friends,  Announcements, losses, and science, in that order.  We are working hard on planning an enlightening and stimulating visit next Friday for Dr. Richard Spinrad, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans & Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator.  In particular, please join us for a Town Hall from 12:30pm-1:45pm in the Monell Auditorium. In addition to lightning talks from some of our colleagues, Dr. Spinrad will give a presentation followed by a public Q+A.  The Town Hall will be a key part of his five-hour visit that will feature our scientists and their work, facilitate discussions about NOAA's strategic priorities, and hopefully inspire thinking around opportunities for new funding streams. NOAA has been, and will continue to be, one of the Lamont campus's most important sponsors and partners.  The link to register for the Town Hall is here

The Office of Research is pleased to welcome two new staff to its team and to Lamont. Ty Rosa is the new Associate Director of Research Communications, focused on websites, newsletters, and other internal communications materials, developing our School's federal affairs strategy, and supporting the writing and editing of large ($4M+) proposals. Ty was previously the Assistant Director of Research Proposal Development in EVPR. Second, please join us in welcoming Haley Clint as the new Operations Manager responsible for the Office's events and administrative infrastructure. She was most recently the Senior Events Manager at The Mann/Live Nation, responsible for large music concerts. These two hires round out the Office of Research's rapid expansion, and now they will focus on launching many new programs and support services for researchers. Stay tuned for their new website and newsletter launch in early-April.   

On March 8th, the Development office hosted a Lamont tour for new hires including the Offices of Research, Columbia Technology Ventures, Major Gift Officers, and the Directorate Administration. The tour highlighted our researchers' active projects, future ones in planning, and did Q&As at the end of each stop. Introductions between researchers and shared administrative offices help to facilitate grant submissions, assist with patent licensing, and find us industry opportunities and donors. And, of course, we all get to know each other a little bit better. Thank you to all the scientists who helped us share why Lamont is a leader in its field.

I’m sorry to report that LDEO lost two members of the Lamont community recently.  C. Barry Raleigh, the Director of LDEO from 1981 to 1989, was listed in the in memoriam section of GSA Today.  According to my sources, he was the third Director of the Observatory, after Neil Opdyke and Maurice Ewing.  The second loss was Misha Kogan, a distinguished geophysicist from Russia who came to Lamont where he worked for about 20 years as a senior scientist.  Many testaments to his friendship and research impact have circulated today on campus email so I won’t repeat them here.  Both Misha and Barry were great colleagues who contributed mightily to the history of and historical impact of the Observatory.

Finally, in the science news listed below, the very cool and innovative geo-bio study of large earthquake history (see last week’s newsletter) continues to be highlighted across media outlets.  A second study, led by another recent PhD student Daniel Rasmussen and published in Science, investigates volcanic eruption prediction and is also getting a lot of press attention.  Both studies speak to the goal of hazard prediction in an uncertain world, with the ultimate pay-off being saved lives and economic livelihoods.  I am continually amazed at how important Lamont’s research is to sound decision-making in government, communities, and business—to see the continual scientific innovations and advancement across the fields of volcanology and seismology, events once considered impossible to predict, is truly inspiring.

I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful day.  A hearty welcome back to our campus geese!  Watch where you step…




Below, four articles related to a study of San Andreas Fault by Paleoseismologist Genevieve Coffey at GNS Science, and Stephen Cox, Associate Research Scientist at Lamont.

Why the Big One Could Be Even Bigger, Daily Mail (UK), March 17, 2022

Central Section of San Andreas Fault Could Cause Bigger Earthquakes, Science Times, March 17, 2022

San Andreas Fault Not So, March 16, 2022

Why the Western Megadrought Is the Worst in 1,200 Years, News 5, March 17, 2022, Megadrought Study coauthored by Jason Smerdon, Lamont Research Professor, and Benjamin Cook, Adjunct Associate Research Scientist at Lamont.

Adam Sobel: A Climate Science Midlife Crisis, Sea Change Radio, March 15, 2022, Interview with Professor Adam Sobel, Ocean and Climate Physics at Lamont.

The history of climate change offers clues to Earth’s future, Knowable Magazine, March 14, 2022, Interview with Professor Sidney Hemming, Geochemistry Division at Lamont.

What the Discovery of the Endurance 3,000 Meters Under the Ice Teaches Us, La Repubblica (Italy), March 11, 2022, By Lamont scientist Marco Tedesco.

Below, six articles on research by Daniel Rasmussen, DEES 2018 PhD graduate, and Professor Terry Plank, Geochemistry Division.

Better Forecasting of Volcanic Eruptions, Economist, March 11, 2022

To Track Magma’s Path to Eruption, Scientists Say There’s Something in the Water, Smithsonian, March 11, 2022

Keys to Knowing When a Volcano Is Going to Erupt, ABC Ciencia (Spain), March 10, 2022

New Insight Into Magma Chambers Could Improve Volcano Models, Science, March 10, 2022

Moving Towards Better Volcanic Eruption Predictions, Cosmos (Australia), March 10, 2022

Scientists Take a Step Forward in Predicting Volcanic Eruptions, Blaze Trends, March 10, 2022

Summer: The Warmest Season, Live Science, March 11, 2022, "There will always be seasons, and the weather will always fluctuate from day to day, month to month, and year to year," Adam Sobel, Columbia professor, atmospheric scientist and author of "Storm Surge" (Harper Wave, 2014), told Live Science. "Global warming won't change that; it will just make all the seasons a little warmer, on average, than they would have been otherwise." 


Sailing Around the Bangladesh Coastal Zonem By Mike Steckler, March 12, 2022, “I am back in Bangladesh to explore the distribution of fresh and saline groundwater in the coastal zone, needed for drinking in the dry season.”

Water Content Controls the Depth of Magma Storage Under Many Volcanoes, Says Study By Kevin Krajick, March 10, 2022, “Research into volcanoes in the Aleutian Islands and elsewhere overturns the conventional understanding of what controls the depth at which rising magma is stored.”

Hello Friends,  It has been a busy week.  On Monday, folks from the Tree Ring Lab and myself met with Tim Termini, District Representative for the American Chestnut Foundation.  We had a long discussion about the reintroduction this important native tree that has been largely wiped out by blight.  Their goal raises interesting ethical issues around genetically-modified organisms in a rapidly changing world that I look forward to discussing with the tree ring scientists when we have some time to debrief. 

Also on Monday, Jorge Otero-Pailos, Professor and Director of Historic Preservation at Columbia University GSAPP, and Gisela Winckler, Lamont Research Professor, participated in a Climate and Society series event run by the Center for Science and Society on The Story and Ethics of Dust: Linking the Past to the Present.  The event featured a dialogue between two colleagues with diverse perspectives looking at dust as a historical, climatic and artistic record. The conversation will be available on CSS's website and YouTube channel. An event later in the series, on April 26, will feature Jason Smerdon, Lamont Research Professor in the Ocean and Climate Physics Division, in conversation with Rhiannon Stephens, Associate Professor in the Department of History at Columbia University. 

Also, on Monday we were pleased to welcome Angel Cherpanath, who joined our team as the new Director of Finance and Administration, replacing Edie Miller who moved to a new Climate School position.  Angel comes to us from the Columbia School of Nursing, where she served as their Director of Accounting and Financial Planning.  She has been with Columbia since 2013, and brings with her a wealth of experience in budgeting, accounting, and financial planning, as well as experience in our Columbia in-house systems like ARC, FDS and PAC.  We are very excited to have her join the Directorate, and I hope you all join me in welcoming her to Lamont.

Tuesday, March 8th, was International Women’s Day and in celebration, and under this year's UN’s theme “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, the Columbia Climate School featured a few of the women at the school who are leading on these issues, among them Nicole Davi, Adjunct Senior Research Scientist at the Tree-Ring Laboratory.  And speaking of amazing women scientists, I started today as the moderator of “A University Symposium: Promoting Credibility, Reproducibility and Integrity” with the special privilege of introducing the keynote speaker, Professor Naomi Oreskes of Harvard University.  Naomi is a world-leading voice on the role of science in society and the reality of anthropogenic climate change.  The author or co-author of 7 books, and over 150 articles, essays and opinion pieces, her writing is engaging and wide-ranging, often entertaining and enraging you at the same time.  In other words, impactful.  Her book Merchants of Doubt was made into a powerful film documentary and another book of hers, The Collapse of Western Civilization, should be required reading for everyone—it is a short and powerful vision of what our future will look like if we don’t quickly get our carbon pollution under control.

Further linking the topics of data reproducibility and credibility with enhancing the visibility of women and minorities in the sciences, I’d like to give a special shout-out to Lamont Research Professor Joerg Schaefer, Post-doctoral Research Scientist Benjamin Keisling, and their colleagues at various institutions. Yesterday, Nature Reviews Method Primers published their paper "Cosmogenic Nuclide Techniques” which I’m sure will become the go-to text for anyone wanting to understand how cosmic nuclides can help unravel Earth’s history, including the ice ages.  But even more ground-breaking was their inclusion of a section devoted to assessing DEIA representation in their field and discussing strategies for increasing diversity and inclusion in the geosciences.  Joerg sends special kudos to Benjamin and co-author Jane Willenbring, both nationally recognized leaders in the DEIA space.  I think we can also be happy to see a top journal allocate space to this important issue and take inspiration for our own paper writing.  

Another recent paper in the journal Geology, led by DEES PhD alum Genevieve Coffey and written with former and current Lamont colleagues including Associate Research Scientist Stephen Cox, DEES Professor Sidney Hemming, Lamont Research Professor Gisela Winckler, and former Lamonters Heather Savage and Pratigya Polissar, continues to make waves (seismic waves) in the popular press, including The Washington Post and Popular Science.  Genevieve’s work extends the paleo record of seismicity on the San Andreas Fault and provides evidence for past major earthquakes in the creeping section of the fault. The team’s use of biomarkers to measure thermal history, combined with argon diffusion and K-Ar dating to infer ages and time histories of heating, represents a new and creative way to reconstruct past earthquake history.  Their results show that creeping faults, generally considered to be less of a hazard, may in fact host large earthquakes over longer time scales. Their new method sheds light on the nature of seismic risk and will soon be applied to other major fault systems around the world.

Lastly, today we bid adieu to Dr. Guy Paxman, one of our Postdoctoral Research Scientists in the sea level group.  From his mentor Jacky Austermann, “Guy was awarded a prestigious research fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust, which he is taking to go back to Durham University in the UK. His last day at Lamont is on March 18”.  Best of luck Guy!

Happy weekend,




An Alaskan Testament to a Warming World, Food & Environment Reporting Network, March 8, 2022, Feature on film about Lamont-Doherty’s Ice Bridges project. 

What the Western U.S. Megadrought Tells Us About Climate Change, World Economic Forum, March 8, 2022, Lamont-Doherty/GISS – Megadrought Study coauthored by Jason Smerdon, Lamont Research Professor, and Benjamin Cook, Adjunct Associate Research Scientist. 

Man Rescued After Almost an Hour in Cook Inlet’s Icy Waters, Nature World News, March 7, 2022, Cites sea-ice research by Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. 

Why Ice Melt in Antarctica and Greenland Matters for Us, The Sweaty Penguin, March 4, 2022, Interview with Lamont scientist Robin Bell.  (Starts about ¾ way through the episode) 

5 groundbreaking researchers who mapped the ocean floor, tested atomic theories, vanquished malaria and more, The Conversation, March 4, 2022, Features Marie Tharp of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. 

Below, articles pertaining to study of San Andreas Fault by Paleoseismologist Genevieve Coffey at GNS Science, and Stephen Cox, Associate Research Scientist at Lamont. 

New Research Suggests That Central California Has Experienced Bigger Quakes Than Thought, KCBX, March 8, 2022  

OK, the Least Dangerous Part of the San Andreas Fault Could Still Cause a Big, LAist, March 8, 2022 

The San Andreas Fault: Is There Seismic Danger in Its ‘Silent and Slow’ Part?, MVS Noticias (Mexico), March 8, 2022 

The Central Part of the San Andreas Fault Could Represent a Seismic Danger, El Ciudadano (Chile), March 8, 2022 

‘Aseismic’ Creeping Part of California Fault Once Hosted Huge Earthquakes, Washington Post, March 7, 2022 

The ‘Slow and Silent’ Part of the San Andreas Fault May Still Be an Earthquake Threat, Science Alert, March 6, 2022 

San Andreas Fault: What to Know, The Travel, March 6, 2022 


Learning From Tree Rings: An Interview With Nicole Davi, By Nataley Williams, March 8, 2022, “A dendrochronologist explains how tree rings can teach us about our past, present, and future.” 

How These Women Are Contributing to a Sustainable Tomorrow, By Columbia Climate School, March 8, 2022, “For International Women’s Day, we highlight a few women in the Columbia Climate School who are leading on climate science and adaptation, and helping to promote equity, sustainability

Hello Friends,  It is my great pleasure to share the news that William “Bill” Ryan, Special Research Scientist in the Marine Geology and Geophysics group and Earth Elder extraordinaire, has been awarded the Lyell Medal by the Geological Society of London. The Lyell Medal is given for contributions to “soft” rock studies—it was established by Sir Charles Lyell, the author of Principles of Geology and one who makes a star appearance in most introductory geology lectures.  The first Lyell medal was given in 1876 to John Morris, a professor of geology at University College in London, and our own Bill Ruddiman won the medal in 2010. 

From the Geological Society press release: "The Lyell Medal, recognising geologists whose research has made a significant contribution to 'soft' rock studies, is awarded in 2022 to Dr William B. F. Ryan….. Dr Ryan said, “It is an honour to receive a medal with Lyell’s name. After notice of the award, I devoured all three volumes of his “Principles of Geology” with the greatest pleasure and immense respect for his pioneering role in the geosciences.”  Dr Ryan, a marine geologist, has provided pivotal insights to marine geology; one of most note is his documentation of the Miocene desiccation of the Mediterranean Sea. He has also highly regarded for his valuable contribution to the geoscience community through his work on the development of user-friendly marine geological and geophysical data bases, the web-based GeoMapApp and the mobile-based Polar Explorer: Sea-level app.”

It won’t surprise anyone who knows Bill to hear that he wrote to me: “None of these accolades would have happened without a career at Lamont and in the company of so many of our brilliant colleagues…”. Congratulations Bill!

On Wednesday, February 23rd, a group of Visual Arts MFA students paid a visit to Lamont.  Committed to using sustainable materials in their practice as well as using their work to communicate around the subject of climate change, these students wanted to learn more about what we do and hopefully get inspired.  I think it worked!  We’ve had nothing but positive feedback about the visit and their interactions with our scientists.  We all hope this leads to more collaborations between CU artists and scientists, something that is becoming a bit of a thing around here.  They toured the Core Repository, Marine Polar Lab (Ice Pod) and the Tree-Ring Lab.  The group included Prof. Nicola Lopez (Chair of the Visual Arts department), Prof. Tomas Vu Daniel (Artistic Director of the Leroy Neiman Center for Print Studies), and 14 students.  The highlight was the wrap-up reception in the Monell lobby where the students presented lightning talks about their inspiring works-in-progress.

Our interactions with the School of Arts continued this week, on March 2nd, with a visit by Carol Becker, Professor of the Arts and Dean of the School of Arts.  Joining her were Gavin Browning, Director of Public Programs and Engagement at Columbia University School of the Arts and Carol’s husband Mr. Jack Murchie, an architect and partner at the firm of SMNG A (yes, that is the name, not a typo).  The goal of this visit was to introduce Dean Becker and her colleagues to some of the ground-breaking research being done here at Lamont, to encourage thought-provoking conversations around the intersection of art and science, and to foster future collaborations between the School of Arts and the Lamont campus. 

Carol was just as excited about her visit as the students were the week before.  Thank you to all the Lamonters who helped make this visit a success.  From Carol “We had SUCH a great time. Thank you for all the generosity of time and intelligence and thank your team as well. What a wonderful community you have,” and from Gavin, “I'd always wanted to visit LDEO, and this was really the perfect way to do it. (I was particularly drawn to those maps by Marie Tharp — they are very beautiful. And of course the Core Lab is totally incredible.)”  

I’ll wrap up by announcing an upcoming, in-person Town Hall featuring Dr. Richard Spinrad, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans & Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator, on Friday, March 25 from 12:30pm-1:45pm in the Monell Auditorium. In addition to lightning talks from some of our colleagues, Dr. Spinrad will give a presentation followed by a public Q+A.  The Town Hall will be a key part of his five-hour visit that will feature our scientists and their work, facilitate discussions about NOAA's strategic priorities, and hopefully inspire thinking around opportunities for new funding streams. I only wish we had five days instead of five hours. NOAA has been, and will continue to be, one of Lamont's most important sponsors and partners.  I hope that the full Lamont community will attend this Town Hall and help us highlight our exceptional and innovative science!  The link to register is here.  For any event questions, please contact Natalie Trotta at [email protected].  I'm looking forward to seeing you all there.  No masks required!  Hooray!

Warmer weather is on its way.  Have a lovely weekend.




How Carbon-Eating Rocks Could Help Fight Climate Crisis, Guardian (UK), March 2, 2022, Article on research by Lamont researcher Catalina Sanchez-Roa.

Disputing Koonin on Melting of Greenland’s Ice, Wall Street Journal, February 28, 2022, Letter to the editor coauthored by Lamont scientist Marco Tedesco.

Articles below pertaining to study of San Andreas Fault by Paleoseismologist Genevieve Coffey at GNS Science, and Stephen Cox, Associate Research Scientist at Lamont.

Sluggish Section of San Andreas Fault Remains a Hazard, San Francisco Bay News, March 3, 2022

New Study Sounds the Alarm About San Andreas Fault, KTVU, March 3, 2022

Earthquake Models Get a Big Shakeup With Clues Buried in the San Andreas Fault, Popular Science, March 3, 2022

The San Andreas Fault May Cause More Damage Than Expected, KCBS, March 3, 2022

Paleoseismology Changes the San Andreas Game, Medium, March 3, 2022

Paleoseismology Changes the San Andreas Game, CosmoQuest, March 2, 2022

Slow-Moving Section of San Andreas Fault Remains a Danger, Zenger, March 2, 2022

Section of San Andreas Fault Lind May Be More Disastrous Than Previously Believed, Nature World News, March 1, 2022

San Andreas Fault Line Could Cause Bigger Quakes Than Previously Thought, Researchers Say, The Independent (UK), February 28, 2022

Center of California’s San Andreas Fault Could Cause Even Bigger Earthquakes, Researchers Say, Newsweek, February 28, 2022

Where Big Quakes Were Thought Unlikely, Rocks Deep Down Say Otherwise, Science Daily, February 28, 2022

According to a Study, Central Section of California’s San Andreas Fault Could Cause Even Bigger Quakes, Ceng News, February 28, 2022, (Story picked up from SoP by dozens of news-aggregator sites)

Earth Pulsates Every 26 Seconds. No One Knows Why., Popular Mechanics, February 21, 2022, Jack Oliver, who worked at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory at the time, heard the noise, but didn't have the advanced instruments...

Articles below pertaining to Lamont-Doherty/GISS – Megadrought Study coauthored by Jason Smerdon, Lamont Research Professor, and Benjamin Cook, Adjunct Associate Research Scientist.

Megadrought Likely to Continue in Western Colorado and Throughout the West for Years, Scientists Say, Denver Post, February 19, 2022

The Southwest United States Has Not Experienced Such a Drought for 1,200 Years, Futura (France), February 19, 2022

Ohio Needs a Consistent Earthquake-Risk Policy on Permitting Fracking Waste Wells, Cleveland Plain Dealer, February 18, 2022, Discusses research by Lamont seismologists John Armbruster and Leonardo Seeber.


A Slow-Motion Section of the San Andreas Fault May Not Be So Harmless After All By Kevin Krajick, February 28, 2022, “The central section of the great fault spanning California, thought to be creeping along harmlessly at the moment, has experienced big quakes in the past, says a new study.”

Talking With Bill Ryan, Detective of the Deeps By Kevin Krajick, February 24, 2022,Marine geologist William B.F. Ryan discusses once seemingly unlikely theories about the evolution of oceans and seas, the hunt for the wreck of the Titanic, the Biblical Flood, and more.”

Researchers Map New York State Methane Emissions With a Mobile Laboratory By Columbia Climate School, February 22, 2022, “Scientists are using mobile instruments to measure and hopefully help reduce emissions from landfills, cities, farms, waste treatment plants and other sources where mitigation measures could be put in place.”

Forest Fires Increasingly Affecting Western Rivers and Streams, for Better and Worse By Columbia Climate School, February 22, 2022, “Fires may increase stream flow for years after sweeping the surface, and temporarily increase downstream water supplies. But they may also increase the risks of landslides and floods in affected areas.”

Researchers Map New York State Methane Emissions With a Mobile Laboratory By Columbia Climate School, February 22, 2022, “Scientists are using mobile instruments to measure and hopefully help reduce emissions from landfills, cities, farms, waste treatment plants and other sources where mitigation measures could be put in place.”

Hello Friends,  Fugitive dust.   What is fugitive dust?   Fugitive dust is dust that should be staying put, but escapes to wreak havoc on the environment. The specific dust I’m talking about is from the Norlite plant located in Cohoes NY, near Albany. 

This plant manufactures lightweight aggregate materials from shale mined on site. The problem is that the resultant dust is being blown off premises and impacting air quality in the surrounding communities—accumulating on windowsills, cars, swing sets, in AC units, and more.  Dave Walker, retired geochemist and Higgens Professor Emeritus in DEES, shared with me recently the great news that, after a long effort to demonstrate the hazardous nature of the dust which is filled with tiny glass shards, the NYS DEC (Dept. of Environmental Conservation) has ordered Norlite to cease and desist any actions that result in dust leaving their property.  Dave played a key role in arming local citizens and leadership with the scientific knowledge they needed to demonstrate the potentially hazardous nature of the dust.  Chalk up a win for environmental justice and healthy air!

I have been asked by two of our admin staff to share some reminders.  First, please upload your booster info if you have it. You can update your information here, or log into the ReopenCU app. The deadline for submission is February 28 for faculty, staff, and researchers.  Please help lighten Virginia Maher’s workload, the person that will have to track down non-compliers.  Second, our B&G Facilities Staff recently joined the rest of Columbia in using an online facilities service request management system known as Maximo.  This system allows anyone with a uni to submit a service request for work to be completed.  You will soon receive an email noting its benefits and a step-by-step guide to use when submitting your service requests. I am confident that this will streamline the process for everyone (and will most certainly make life easier for our facilities team).

Congratulations to Julian Spergel who passed his Ph.D. thesis defense today with flying colors!  Julian's thesis, entitled "Modelling and remote sensing of meltwater drainage on Antarctic ice shelves", looks at what controls the flow of water across Antarctic ice shelves. This is important because meltwater can cause ice shelves to collapse, accelerating ice-sheet loss, ultimately causing sea level rise.  One key insight provided by Julian's work is the important role played by ice surface topography in controlling how drainage systems grow in response to the melting caused by climate warming. 

I’m looking forward to going to an in-person colloquium this week and hearing what Matthew Hayek, Assistant Professor in Environmental Studies at New York University, has to say about “Hamburgers in a Heated World: Providing Scientific Evidence in the Food Sustainability Debate”.  #Holdthebeef!  And of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the in-person TGIF taking place at Monell upon conclusion of the colloquium.  

Finally, from fugitive dust to Mother Nature’s dust.  Wow.  See below.  Megadroughts are the new dinosaurs!  Really exciting to see the wide impact and recognition of Lamont Research Professor Jason Smerdon and Adjunct Associate Research Scientist Ben Cook’s work on the history of climate change and drought in the western United States.  The news ain’t good, but better to know it than not.

Have a peaceful, dust-free weekend.   Mo



Tracking the Melting Ross Ice Shelf With New Probes, Polar Journal, February 16, 2022, Research led by Lamont scientist David Porter.

Lamont-Doherty/GISS – Western Megadrought Study Coauthored by scientists Jason Smerdon and Benjamin Cook in the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. (Story picked up by a large number of news-aggregator sites)

What Is the Megadrought Gripping the US Southwest?, CNBC, February 16, 2022

Megadrought Plaguing Western U.S. Is Worst in 1,200 Years, Bloomberg News, February 15, 2022

Study Finds Megadrought Is Worst in 1,200 Years, NPR, February 15, 2022

Megadrought: The Worst in 1,200 Years, KABC TV, February 15, 2022 (no weblink)

Scientists Say Drought Is Worst in 1,200 Years, Cheddar TV, February 15, 2022 (no weblink)

U.S. Drought Worst in 1,200 Years, Researchers Say, NBC News, February 15, 2022

The American West’s ‘Megadrought Is the Worst It’s Been in 1,200 Years, Futurism, February 15, 2022

U.S. Megadrought Is Worst in 1,200 Years, Study Says, Guardian (UK), February 15, 2022

Megadrought Severity Based on Tree Rings, Soil Moisture, 2News, February 15, 2022

Western Megadrought Now Worst in 1,200 Years, KPIX, February 15, 2022

Western U.S. Suffers Worst Drought in 1,200 Years, Publico (Portugal), February 15, 2022

Western Megadrought Is Worst in 1,200 Years, Scientific American, February 15, 2022

U.S. Megadrought Unprecedented in Last 1,200 Years; And It Is Man’s Fault, La Reppublica (Italy), February 15, 2022

Study Finds Western Megadrought Is Worst in 1,200 Years, KUNC, February 15, 2022

Farmers, Ranchers in Southwest Adapt to Worst Drought in More Than 1,000       Years, NPR Marketplace, February 15, 2022

Western Megadrought Is the Worst in 1,200 Years, ClimateWire, February 15, 2022

Megadrought in U.S. Southwest, Boosted by Human CO2 Emissions, Is Worst Since 800 A.D., Informed Comment, February 15, 2022

The U.S. Southwest Is Hitting Megadrought Status, Ars Technica, February 15, 2022, Western Megadrought Study Coauthored by Lamont scientists Jason Smerdon and Ben Cook

Southwest U.S. Is at Its Driest in 1,200 Years, Newsweek, February 15, 2022, Western Megadrought Study Coauthored by Lamont scientists Jason Smerdon    and Ben Cook

Western Megadrought Is Worst in 1,200 Years, Intensified by Climate Change, Study Finds, Los Angeles Times, February 14, 2022

How Bad Is the Western Drought? Worst in 1,200 Years, Study Finds, New York Times, February 14, 2022

Study Finds Western Megadrought Is Worst in 1,200 Years, NPR, February 14, 2022

Underground carbon-dioxide storage idea is cracked. And that’s actually good., The Washington Post, February 13, 2022 “In new experiments, researchers at Columbia University are learning more about the technique’s viability”.  The article quotes Catalina Sanchez Roa, Columbia Climate School Fellow, Associate Research Scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.


How Does a Major Subduction Zone Get Started? It May Begin Small By Columbia Climate School, February 15, 2022

Megadrought in Southwest Is Now the Worst in at Least 1,200 Years, Study Confirms By Columbia Climate School, February 14, 2022

Hello Friends,  This is going to be a short missive, a reflection of the crazy number of zoom meetings I’ve had this week. I want to highlight that Friday was International Women in Science Day and hope you will take a moment to go through the 2022 flip book "Women In Science At LDEO, DEES, IRI, and CIESIN".  This beautifully designed flip book highlights the work of 122 women scientists affiliated with Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, and the Center for International Earth Science Information Network.  From the UN Resolution declaring the day: “Despite some progress over the years, women and girls still face various and often compounding barriers and challenges to meaningfully engage in the fields of science at all levels, including education and research. According to the UNESCO Science Report, women only account for 33% of the world’s researchers. They still occupy fewer senior positions than men at top universities, and only 12% of the members of the national science academies are women. To date, women and girls have only won 23 of the 631 Nobel Prizes in science and are still a minority in science-related studies and fields.”

Please also enjoy this article by Renee Cho that was just published in State of the Planet on “Why Climate Science Needs More Women Scientists”.   Renee interviewed both Dean Ruth DeFries and myself for the article.  Another article I really enjoyed highlighted the work of Lamont Research Scientist Catalina Sanchez-Roa, an experimental geophysicist working to develop more effective ways to remove carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.  When you think about it, it is amazing to consider how much Columbia scientists have influenced the fields of carbon capture and storage—from the first demonstration of air capture (now commercialized), to the sequestering of carbon via water-rock reactions in the CarbFix project (now commercialized), to the many potentially ground-breaking experiments going on across the Lamont campus now (I’m looking at you Catalina!).  The impact our scientists have had, and will continue to have, in this critically important area of research for the future of our planet is truly something we can all be proud of.

Finally, many Lamont-centric events occurred across Columbia this week, too many to recount here.  However, the best news I have to report this week comes from the Ocean and Climate Physics Division. Please join me in congratulating graduate students Sam Bartusek and Sarah Smith who were both prize recipients from the American Meteorological Society for their presentations at the 2022 AMS Middle Atmosphere conference.  Sam won the prize for best student talk for his presentation on “Tropopause Folding and Tropospheric Ozone”.  Sarah won first place for outstanding oral presentation on "Satellite Observations of Aerosol Optical Depth in 4 Northern Hemisphere Source Regions during the COVID-19”.  Both Sam and Sarah are currently working on projects with Lamont Research Professors Mingfang Ting and Yutian Wu.  Nice! 

A very strong whiff of spring pervades the air and I wish you all a relaxing weekend as the days stretch longer.

Best, Mo



Daily Climate Damage Should Feel More Like a Disaster, Bloomberg News, February 10, 2022, Written with David Ho, a climate scientist at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and a research scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.

Good News: Rocks Crack Under Pressure From Mineral CO2 Storage, Eos, February 10, 2022, “It is always going to be looking for a way to escape to an area where the pressure is lower,” explained Catalina Sanchez-Roa, an experimental geophysicist at Columbia University Climate School in New York City.

What Is the Last Area of Arctic Sea Ice (And Why Is It Important to the Future of the Planet)?, BBC Mundo, February 9, 2022, Article on research led by Lamont scientist Bob Newton.

Kilimanjaro’s ice fields didn’t disappear by 2020. That doesn’t mean climate change isn’t happening., PolitiFact, February 7, 2022, "The trends in ice loss on Kilimanjaro are clear," said Jason Smerdon, a Columbia University professor who studies climate change. He encouraged people to look beyond the predicted time frame and acknowledge that the glaciers are ultimately disappearing as the paper indicated. 


Why Climate Science Needs More Women Scientists By Renee Cho, February 11, 2022, “Women scientists continue to face unequal access to resources and opportunities in climate science. This lack of gender diversity is concerning, since women around the world will bear the brunt of climate change impacts.”

Celebrating the 2022 International Day of Women and Girls in Science, By Columbia Climate School, February 11, 2022, “This U.N.-designated day aims to accelerate gender equity and improve access to and participation in science for women and girls.”

Hello Friends,  On this dreary day a few words about COVID across the university.  The good news is that the omicron wave has passed and positive testing rates are now under 2% across the University.  Our campus continues to have a remarkable safety record with respect to viral transmission.  The current university risk level is yellow, or LOW.  The deadline to upload your booster information has been extended to February 28th.  Indoor masking is still required (except in private offices or when eating or lecturing and one is able to maintain a 6-foot distance). On February 7, 2022, social gatherings will be allowed with no capacity restrictions.

Please keep in mind that we are still in a hybrid work mode, similar to last fall.  This is designed to allow flexibility for remote work for employees that are not student-facing and whose jobs can be carried out remotely.  This flexibility is especially important for parents of young children and others dealing with the ongoing challenges of the pandemic on everyday life and family health.  However, please note that the health risk of working on campus is very low and employees whose jobs require them to be on campus are expected to be here.  Our heroes from facilities have been on campus since the beginning of the pandemic.  Other groups in admin have defined schedules to keep occupancy rates low in shared offices while providing the flexibility mentioned above.  Leadership has worked with groups to try to ensure uniformity in expectations across divisions and 100% remote work is not the norm or expectation.  If you think these protocols are not being applied fairly and equitably, please reach out to the Directorate so we can gently investigate and intervene if necessary.

On the flip side, I walked down a major building corridor last week where, with the exception of one employee who doesn’t like working from home, every single office suite was dark and locked.  I could not help but feel sympathy for this lone ranger—they should not be in that position.  I’ll note that it has also been conveyed to me how much our campus lab managers (with limited ability to work remotely) appreciated it when people started spending more time on campus.  So—managers, advisors, members of the community—please be thoughtful in evaluating your work patterns versus actual health risks and recognize the ripple effects your choices have across our currently-not-so-vibrant campus (and cafeteria struggling to survive).

For more information, please consider joining the next Campus Update Forum for faculty, researchers and staff on Tuesday, Feb. 8, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. via Zoom.  You will get up-to-date information on COVID-19, plans for Spring 2022, and the campus work environment.  Register here.

I’ll end with a big shout-out to Bar Oryan who today successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis on “Long-term and short-term processes affecting inelastic deformation above subduction zone interfaces”.  Nice job Bar!  Post-graduation, Bar will be starting a postdoctoral position at École Normale Supérieure in Paris.  Paris in the spring!

Have a peaceful weekend.   Mo



Researcher floats pairing offshore wind with carbon removal tech, Axios, January 31, 2022, The big picture: Marine geophysicist David Goldberg, writing in The Conversation, says co-locating direct air capture (DAC) systems with offshore wind would ensure the systems are powered by clean energy.  The captured CO2 could be piped directly into subsea geologic storage, "reducing the need for extensive pipeline systems," which also reduces the environmental impact.

Curl up with these 7 thought provoking stories, The Washington Post, January 28, 2022, At a certain threshold of heat and humidity, “it’s no longer possible to be able to sweat fast enough to prevent overheating,” said Radley Horton, a professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

What Can Be Learned From the Tonga Volcano?, CGTN, January 27, 2022, Interview with Lamont volcanologist Einat Lev.

Film Reveals Arctic Changes Through Indigenous Knowledge, Daily News-Miner, Jan 27, 2022, Film includes Lamont scientist Chris Zappa.

Five Columbia Faculty Named AAAS Fellows, Columbia News, January 26, 2022, “Columbia's 2021 AAAS Fellows are recognized for their contributions to teaching and research.”

Offshore wind farms could bank carbon dioxide on slow days, Popular Science, January 25, 2022, Article by Lamont deputy director and geophysicist David Goldberg.

Offshore wind farms could help capture carbon from air and store it long-term – using energy that would otherwise go to waste, The Conversation, January 25, 2022, Article by Lamont deputy director and geophysicist David Goldberg.


Return of the R/V Pelican to Ocho Rios, Jamaica By Cecilia McHugh, February 2, 2022, “The expedition discovered stresses along an underwater plate boundary and a record of historic and pre-historic earthquakes, which will shed light on the geohazard risks for Jamaica and Haiti.”

How Climate Change Will Affect Plants By Renee Cho, January 27, 2022, “While elevated levels of CO2 can help plants grow, the impacts of climate change mean it’s not all good news for the plant world.”

Offshore Wind Farms Could Capture Carbon From Air and Store It By David Goldberg, January 28, 2022, “When the wind can produce more power than is needed, that unused power could be used to remove carbon from the air and lock it away.”

Hello Friends,  Will it?  Won’t it?  What hath Mother Nature in store for us now?  From the NYTimes: “Forecasters said there was potential for heavy snow and high winds for eastern portions of the New York City region on Friday through Saturday night, but stressed an “unusual amount of uncertainty” in snow amounts.”  Hmm, just like the good ole days before weather forecasting got so good.  We announced already that the Saturday shuttle is cancelled.  If campus closes, please stay at home unless it is critical to be here—our facilities team will be busy plowing.

The January 27 issue of Columbia News Awards & Milestones Newsletter announced that five Columbia researchers were named American Association for the Advancement of Sciences Fellows, among them Nicholas Christie-Blick, Professor in DEES and the SGT Division at Lamont.  Congrats Nick!

In an article in The Conversation titled "Offshore wind farms could help capture carbon from air and store it long-term, saving money – a geophysicist explains how", David Goldberg, Lamont Research Professor and Deputy Director, explains.  He lays out some new ideas for combining off-shore wind technology with carbon capture and storage goals that leverage the large planned infrastructure build-outs off our coasts. Wouldn’t that be cool, creating clean energy while burying the pollution of dirty energy at the same time!

Today I participated in a Columbia Global Centers event, in their University Leadership Series.  It was titled "Columbia's New Climate School: How It Plans to Make a Difference", with Alex Halliday, Ruth DeFries, and myself along with Julie Kornfeld, Vice Provost for Academic Programs, and Safwan Masri, Executive Vice-President for Global Centers and Global Development at Columbia. It was great seeing Columbia colleagues from the Centers zooming in from all over the world.

As the Office of Research continues to grow, I’d like to welcome Kelsi Welter who is the new Senior Grants Manager. In this role, Kelsi will support proposal development, collaborating with all stages of researchers, administrators, and external sponsors to help develop high-quality and large grant applications. Kelsi comes to the Climate School and Lamont from Sponsored Projects Administration at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, where she was a Senior Project Officer for the last three years. The Research Office staff are spending time on both campuses weekly and will continue to engage enthusiastically with our scientists at LDEO, IRI, and CIESIN as they build out programs to support career advancement and grant success.

Finally, I hope you will all join me this afternoon for this year’s Diversity Seminar on “Who gets geoscience degrees?”, presented by Rachel E. Bernard, Assistant Professor of Geology at Amherst College. As we strive to build a campus and school where resources and opportunities for advancement are distributed equitably, it behooves us to reflect on the often ingrained and sometimes unacknowledged biases in our systems.  I am proud every week to be part of a community where these types of conversations are happening regularly.  Yes, academia is a meritocracy, albeit sometimes imperfect, but having doors opened to you and having the space, salary, start-up, and family support resources to compete and thrive on a level playing field with your peers has got to be our guiding principle if we hope to change the face of the geosciences. 

Best, Mo



Offshore Wind Farms Could Help Capture Carbon from Air and Store It Long-term, Saving Money – A Geophysicist Explains How, The Conversation, January 25, 2022, Article by David Goldberg, Deputy Director, Marine/Large Programs Associate Director, and Lamont Research Professor at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Lisa Goddard, 55, Dies; Brought Climate Data to Those Who Needed It, New York Times, January 22, 2022, Obituary for the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) scientist; quotes Climate School dean Alex Halliday; Lamont director Maureen Raymo; and IRI director John Furlow. (picked up by many news-aggregator sites)


How Climate Change Will Affect Plants By Renee Cho, January, 27 2022, “While elevated levels of CO2 can help plants grow, the impacts of climate change mean it’s not all good news for the plant world.”

Looking at the Seafloor Without Water By Cecilia McHugh, January 26, 2022, “Along the Enriquillo fault, large-scale submarine landslides provide possible evidence of earthquakes.”

Lisa Goddard: Led Global Efforts to Advance Near-Term Climate Forecasting By Kevin Krajick, January 21, 2022, “Lisa Goddard, longtime director of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, has died.”

New Film Explores Combining Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science to Understand Waning Arctic Sea Ice By Columbia Climate School, January 21, 2022, “A launch event will include clips from the film; discussion by Iñupiaq elders, scientists and the filmmaker; and audience Q&A.”

Hello Friends, The news of the pandemic is a bit better this week.  The number of positive cases appears to have peaked in our community and is falling.  If the South Africa data is our guide, this fall will happen rapidly.  Daily hospitalizations in NYC are also dropping and, as a reminder, the vast majority of those hospitalizations are unvaccinated people.  Classes started this week and the first two weeks of classes will be on line (in-person restarting on Jan. 31st).  This week we also returned to the “normal” work guidelines of last semester which for many did include some mix of on-site and remote work.  Of course, nothing feels normal.  

A few events are coming up that are worth mentioning. On February 18th, the Columbia Business School's Green Business Club, in partnership with the Columbia Climate School, will host a virtual Student Climate Symposium. The purpose of the event is “to promote interdisciplinary, University-wide collaboration around climate change research and solutions; and to gather feedback from students on how best to facilitate and connect student research related to climate across the University".  Please visit the event website for more details. 

On January 26, Columbia Climate School Earth Series will host “A Breathtaking Challenge: Charting the Course for Cleaner Air”, a discussion by atmospheric scientists V. Faye McNeill, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia, and Daniel M. Westervelt, Assistant Research Professor at LDEO.  Alex Halliday will be moderating the discussion. Register here.  And speaking of Dan, a special congratulations for landing a $75K award from Columbia Data Science Institute for their project titled "Application of Gaussian Mixture Regression to Obtain Useful, Actionable Air Pollution Data from Consumer-Grade, Low-Cost Monitoring Devices".  His project team will develop and apply a novel algorithm to a fast-growing global network of low-cost air quality sensors, thereby empowering communities to better understand their air pollution exposure and ultimately take action. 

On January 27th, you might consider watching “Ice Edge – Indigenous and Scientific Ways of Knowing", a film launch and discussion chronicling the pioneering five-year collaborative research project “Ice Bridges” between the Native Village of Kotzebue along Alaska’s Chukchi Sea with scientists from LDEO and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Guests include Documentary Filmmaker, Sarah Betcher of Farthest North Films, Elder Advisory Council members Ross Schaeffer, Bobby Schaeffer and Cyrus Harris (contingent on availability), Alex Whiting, Environmental Program Director, Native Village of Kotzebue, Donna Hauser, Marine Mammal Scientist, UAF International Arctic Research Center, and Christopher Zappa, a Lamont Research Professor. You can register here

I wrap up by drawing your attention to a lovely tribute and obituary for our colleague Lisa Goddard, former Director of IRI who passed away last week after a long battle with cancer.  Her service was on Tuesday and she was laid to rest in Valhalla, NY, a fitting spot for a hero and warrior who used science to better the lives of the underserved around the world.  May she rest in peace. 

Best, Mo 



Tackling Climate Change Is Art, Not Just Science, Christian Science Monitor, January 17, 2022, Quotes Lamont student Caroline Juang and Ben Mylius of the Columbia Climate Imaginations Network. 

Tonga volcano eruption created puzzling ripples in Earth’s atmosphere, Nature, January 18, 2022, The imagery and data collected from the eruption has been “spectacular” and has presented scientists with an exciting opportunity, says Vicki Ferrini, a marine geophysicist at Columbia University in New York City. But she adds that she and others remain deeply concerned for the people of Tonga, particularly given the absence so far of detailed information on the scale of the disaster. 

Pacific Volcano: Science Will Explain Event’s Ferocity, BBC, January 17, 2022, "This is a possibility, for sure," commented Dr Vicki Ferrini from Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.  "In data we collected in 2016, you could see a lot of big solidified chunks that looked like they had slid down the side of the volcano in the past. So, with an explosion of this size, you certainly wouldn't be surprised if further large sections of consolidated material had moved.  "The good thing is we have the baseline data to make a comparison when we go back in, but only when it's safe." 

6 Things You Need to Know About Climate Change Now, Columbia Magazine, January 14, 2022, Cites/quotes Wally Broecker, Radley Horton, Adam Sobel, Marco Tedesco, Lamont-Doherty; Columbia Climate School and Alex Halliday, Maureen Raymo, Ruth DeFries, Jason Bordoff; Christian Braneon, Cynthia Rosenzweig, GISS; Geoffrey Heal, Wolfram Schlenker, Earth Institute; John Furlow, IRI; Alex DeSherbinin, CIESIN. 

What Old NYC Lumber Can Tell Us About Climate History, Columbia Magazine, January 14, 2022, By Kevin Krajick, Earth Institute/Columbia Climate School. 


High Winds, Rough Seas, and Winch Problems By Cecilia McHugh, January 20, 2022, Researchers studying earthquake hazards in the Caribbean faced several challenges at sea, from rough weather to equipment failures. 

Mapping Offshore Faults in Kingston Bay By Cecilia McHugh, January 19, 2022, Motion along these faults is associated with the 1907 Kingston earthquake, which shook the capital of the island with a magnitude of 6.2 

Into the Sundarban Mangrove Forest and Back By Michael Steckler, January 18, 2022, For the last week of our trip, we traveled by boat to reach the sites where we are measuring subsidence in the Sundarban Mangrove Forest and nearby embanked islands. 

From Barisal to Khulna By Michael Steckler, January 13, 2022, We continued to service our GNSS and RSET-MH equipment measuring land subsidence in coastal Bangladesh. Long distances, poor roads and slow ferries made for very long days, but we were able to complete the work at the sites. 

Marco Tedesco: Snow Man By Marie DeNoia Aronsohn, January 13, 2022, Although his parents wanted him to become an electrical engineer, Tedesco felt drawn to a life of research. Then he fell in love with snow. Now he is among the most well-respected and quoted polar experts in the world. 

The R/V Pelican Sets Sail, and Data Collection Begins By Cecilia McHugh, January 16, 2022, Researchers are mapping the seafloor and subseafloor between Haiti and Jamaica, to evaluate the potential for earthquakes. 

Hello Friends,  I write this newsletter with a heavy heart. As many of you have likely already heard, our colleague and friend Dr. Lisa Goddard passed away on Thursday after a long battle with cancer. Lisa joined the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) as an Associate Research Scientist in 2000. She rose through the ranks, serving as Director of IRI from 2012 through 2020. In addition, she was an Associate Adjunct Professor in the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences. As a longtime member of the Lamont community, Lisa was a force in campus decision-making. Her leadership has ensured both the strength of IRI and the Lamont campus for years to come. 

    As a scientist, Lisa was a pioneer in applying climate science to societal needs—climate services. Her work on seasonal prediction and near-term climate forecasting has both moved the scientific conversation forward and improved the lives of millions of people around the world. She developed the Post-docs Applying Climate Expertise Program (PACE), a national program that connects recent climate Ph.D. recipients with decision-making institutions. In addition to her service at Lamont, Lisa took a leadership role in national and international scientific initiatives and institutions, including the National Academies of Sciences Board of Atmospheric Sciences Committee. 

    Our campus has lost a champion, a visionary, a leader and a friend. My deepest sympathies go out to her husband David, her sons Sam and Matthew, and to the many people whose lives she touched as a mentor, a colleague and a friend.  

    Sadly, Mo



Extreme Rainfall Driven by Climate Change Hampering Global Economy: Research, IANS (India), January 12, 2022, Article on a study co-authored by Lamont adjunct Anders Levermann.

Rainy Days Harm the Economy, Science Daily, January 12, 2022, Article on a study co-authored by Lamont adjunct Anders Levermann.

More rainy days from climate change could dampen economic growth: Study, ABC News, January 12, 2022, Article on a study co-authored by Lamont adjunct Anders Levermann; comment by EI postdoc Kai Kornhuber.

Humans Reached Faroe Islands Centuries Earlier Than Thought, National Science Foundation, January 12, 2022, Settlement of Faroe Islands Study by Lorelei Curtin, William D’Andrea

Irish Monks Could Have Been First Settlers on North Atlantic Faroe Islands, Gript (Ireland), January 11, 2022, Settlement of Faroe Islands Study by Lorelei Curtin, William D’Andrea.

‘Sticky’ Ice Sheets May Have Led to More Intense Glacial Cycles, Eos, January 5, 2022, Article on research by Lamont scientists Steven Goldstein and Maayan Yehudai.


From Barisal to Khulna, By Mike Steckler, January 13, 2022, “We continued to service our GNSS and RSET-MH equipment measuring land subsidence in coastal Bangladesh. Long distances, poor roads and slow ferries made for very long days, but we were able to complete the work at the sites.”

Dhaka and Beyond, By Mike Steckler, January 11, 2022, “After a week of meetings and a wedding in Dhaka, we headed back to the field to service equipment measuring land subsidence in Bangladesh.”

    Hello Friends, Happy New Year!  And there is no sugar-coating this—omicron has brought with it ever more misery and gloom.  Our collective depression over the state of the pandemic is palpable.  One of the few silver linings I see is some satisfaction in following the science, which gives me, at least, some semblance of feeling in control.  To that end, I’ll draw your attention to the excellent guest editorial in Thursday’s New York Times by our Senior Associate Dean and Earth Institute Faculty Chair Jeff Shaman.  Jeff, an epidemiologist, projects omicron infections to peak in the first to third weeks of January. 

    Moving on to comings and goings, this week Edie Miller accepted a new position as Associate Dean, Budget and Finance in the Columbia Climate School.  Virginia Maher also accepted a position as Director of Human Resources in the Climate School.  I’ll note that the early commitment of Climate School leadership to maintain a strong presence on the LDEO campus is allowing for significant career advancement opportunities without having to leave our fair and verdant campus.  I’d also like to introduce the new Senior Executive Assistant within the Directorate, Ms. Naomi Hornedo who joins us from the CU Irving Medical Center and brings decades of experience working at Columbia University.  Welcome Naomi!  We are thrilled to have you join our team.

    In addition to checking out the January 6th version of Lamont’s monthly newsletter,please go to Lamont’s website to see the 2021 Annual Report from the Observatory. Under the theme “Meeting the Moment. The Solutions Science Imperative”, the report highlights the scope of Lamont’s scientific exploration, educational programs, institutional financial information, and major honors and awards to Lamont’s scientific staff.  Please note this is our first foray into an on-line annual report, a growing trend across the university.  Check out the features, storytelling and videos and tell us what you think.  This was one of Marie Aronsohn’s last big projects before decamping to her new communications leadership position as Director of Strategic Communications at Barnard College.

    Looking ahead to next week, on January 13th the popular Earth Institute K-12 Education program hosted by Cassie Xu, Associate Director of Non-Degree Education and Outreach Programs at the Earth Institute, starts the semester with a presentation by Margie Turrin, Director of Educational Field Programs and Laurel Zaima, Education and Outreach Coordinator, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory on “Using Tools to Explore the Changes of the Polar Regions”. RSVP here. Visit the K-12 Education website for the full semester program.

    In closing, enjoy the snow, enjoy the weekend.  Recent graduate Lorelei Curtin, Lamont Research Professor Billy D’Andrea and their carefully collected sheep poop continue to dominate the news cycle.  So hygge your home office, cuddle up with a nice cup of tea, and dive into the news links below.

    Best, Mo



Policymakers should consider changes in nature of land: professor Steckler, New Age, January 6, 2022, “University of Columbia Lamont Research professor Michael S Steckler at a seminar said that Bangladesh’s policymakers should consider with importance the changes in natural environment, life of the people and its economy due to changes in the nature of land in recent years.”

Sedimentary Evidence and DNA Shows Faroe Islands Were Inhabited 300 Years Before the Vikings, Guardian Magazine, December 31, 2021, Settlement of Faroe Islands Study by Lorelei Curtin, William D’Andrea.

Faroe Islands Settled Before Vikings Arrived, New Research Shows, Sci News, December 30, 2021, Settlement of Faroe Islands Study by Lorelei Curtin, William D’Andrea.

Year in climate: Extreme weather events prove climate change is already here, ABC News, December 28, 2021, The damage done to the Northern hemisphere this year alone has been "devastating," Jason Smerdon, a climate scientist for Columbia University's Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, told ABC News.  "So this is just one more piece of bad news and lots of events that are impacted by global warming," Smerdon said.

The Faroe Islands: Not Discovered by Vikings, Norse Reign, December 26, 2021, Settlement of Faroe Islands Study by Lorelei Curtin, William D’Andrea.

Can Scientists Develop an Icy Sanctuary for Arctic Life?, Science News for Students, December 22, 2021, Article features research by Lamont oceanographer Robert Newton and colleagues.

Ancient Sheep Poop Suggests People Were on the Faroe Islands 300 Years Before the Vikings, CBC (Canada), December 21, 2021, Settlement of Faroe Islands Study by Lorelei Curtin, William D’Andrea.

Ancient Sheep Poop Tells the Tale of the Faroe Islands’ First Inhabitants, Smithsonian Magazine, December 21, 2021, Article features research led by Lamont PhD Lorelei Curtin and paleoclimatologist Billy D’Andrea.

Can Scientists Develop an Icy Sanctuary for Arctic Life?, Science News for Students, December 21, 2021, Last Arctic Ice Refuge Study by Bob Newton

Remote North Atlantic Islands Were Inhabited Centuries Earlier Than Thought, Science Alert, December 20, 2021, Settlement of Faroe Islands Study by Lorelei Curtin, William D’Andrea.

Drilling into the Climate of Human Origins, American Scientist, December 19, 2021, Article features research by Lamont postdoc Rachel Lupien, paleoclimatologist Kevin Uno, paleoceanographer Peter de Menocal, and colleagues.

There Were People in the Faroe Islands Before the Vikings, Researchers Believe, Forskning (Norway), December 19, 2021, Settlement of Faroe Islands Study by Lorelei Curtin, William D’Andrea

The Faroe Islands Were Settled in the Sixth Century, Researchers Find, Medievalists, December 18, 2021, Settlement of Faroe Islands Study by Lorelei Curtin, William D’Andrea.

Ancient Poop Suggests Someone Colonized the Faroe Islands Before the Vikings, ZME Science, December 17, 2021, Article features research led by Lamont PhD Lorelei Curtin and paleoclimatologist Billy D’Andrea.

New Evidence Confirm That the Vikings Weren’t the First to Arrive at the Faroe Islands, Mysterious Universe, December 17, 2021, Settlement of Faroe Islands Study by Lorelei Curtin, William D’Andrea.

Evidence for the Earliest Human Occupation of the Faroe Islands, Nature Asia, December 17, 2021, Article features research led by Lamont PhD Lorelei Curtin and paleoclimatologist Billy D’Andrea.

Celtic Explorers Reached the Faroe Islands 350 Years Before the Vikings Landed, The Times, December 17, 2021, Article features research led by Lamont PhD Lorelei Curtin and paleoclimatologist Billy D’Andrea.

Warmer Winters Can Wreak as Much Havoc as Hotter Summers, Say Scientists, The Guardian, December 17, 2021, Article quotes Earth Institute climate scientist Kai Kornhuber and Lamont natural hazards expert Chiara Lepore.

1,500-Year-Old Evidence of Livestock Found on Faroe Islands, Archaeology , December 17, 2021, Settlement of Faroe Islands Study by Lorelei Curtin, William D’Andrea.

Who Were the First Faroese?, Orkney News , December 17, 2021, Lamont-Doherty – Settlement of Faroe Islands Study by Lorelei Curtin, William D’Andrea.

Study: Risk of overlapping heat waves grows in Northern Hemisphere, Axios, December 17, 2021, Article quotes Kai Kornhuber, Postdoctoral Research Scientist at the Earth Institute

Arctic Fires Are Melting Permafrost That Keeps Carbon Underground, Bloomberg News, December 16, 2021, “In the future we might expect to see an outsized influence on thaw from the fires that will likely increase," said Róisín Commane, a Columbia University assistant professor who studies atmospheric composition and wasn’t involved in the new study. 

Ancient Eruptions Reveal Earliest Settlers of Faroe Islands, Eos, December 16, 2021, Article features research led by Lamont PhD Lorelei Curtin and paleoclimatologist Billy D’Andrea.

British or Irish Settlers Could Have Beaten Vikings to Faroe Islands  (runs 27:23-29:53), BBC 6 O’Clock News, December 16, 2021, Settlement of Faroe Islands Study by Lorelei Curtin, William D’Andrea. (Various iterations of the story also appear on dozens of new aggregator sites)


Clearing the Air: Decarbonization Technologies Take a Giant Step Forward, January 06, 2022, “Research from Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory is being used to pull CO2 out of the air.”

EI LIVE K12: RSVP for Our Winter/Spring 2022 Sessions, “Our popular video series for students, educators, and parents returns with an exciting lineup from January to June.”, January 03, 2022

Back to Bangladesh at Last, Mike Steckler, January 02, 2022, “I am finally back in Bangladesh after a pandemic hiatus. I need to repair precision GPSs that failed over the last few years. They are measuring tectonic movements for earthquake hazard and land subsidence, which exacerbates sea level rise.

Spring 2022 Internship Opportunities, “The Earth Institute is offering undergraduate, graduate and PhD students with opportunities to intern in various departments and research centers.”, December 20, 2021

Spring 2022 Undergraduate Research Assistant Opportunities, “Undergraduates from Columbia will be able to serve as research assistants on projects related to sustainable development and the environment.”

Crucial Antarctic Glacier Likely to Collapse Much Earlier than Expected, December 17, “Despite being far away, the poles and their changes have and will control the climate on our planet, and hence our own society,” says climate scientist Marco Tedesco of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Columbia University’s Climate School. “The collapse of Thwaites can catalyze sea level rise, therefore accelerating the damage to our society by climate change,” he adds.

2021 Director's Reports

Hello Friends,  It is so hard to know what to write in this moment.  Many of us had two lovely weeks in our family bubbles, with a blissful decrease in Zoom meetings and email, and came back excited (I hope) to reconnect with our students, colleagues, and co-workers.  But on Wednesday we were assaulted with yet another egregious example of the racism and hypocrisy that is so woven into the fabric of our society.  It is painful to think about.  It is painful to watch.  Although I know that there is a segment of society that will be apologists—saying the equivalent of “boys will be boys”—we all know that only white boys can get away with the terrorist meetings and planning and weapon stockpiling that occurred over the last weeks, culminating in Wednesday’s shocking attack on the seat of U.S. government.

     Which brings me to Lamont.  The twin scourges of racism and sexism imbue all of society, including our workplaces, in ways we consciously appreciate (Wednesday) but also often don’t consciously appreciate.  Certainly, women, the LGBTQ community and racial minorities are more conscious of the subtle and not so subtle behaviors and signs of disrespect, including condescending explanations, pompous declarations, being ignored, etc.  If there was ever a time to be a little humble and self-reflective, it is now.  I know many of my white colleagues are keenly aware of the “invisible backpack of privilege” we carry and are allies, even if flawed, in this struggle to build a better, more equitable world.  In just this past fortnight, three of my male colleagues have pulled together proposals to advance diversity programs and hiring on our campus.  There will be many more opportunities for us all to pull together, in the same direction, in the year ahead.

     For the last six months, I have been on the sidelines watching the work of our DEI Task Force.  They have mindfully approached their task guided by the question “What is the Dream?”.  That report will be delivered soon and I hope we can all pitch in and use it as a roadmap to turn The Dream into The Reality—to continue to evolve our campus culture towards one that is actively anti-racist, fully inclusive and always respectful.  A place where Lamont is the best scientific playground in the world, for all of us.

     Other news of the week:

     A few months ago, I was remembering a paper by the famously creative geochemist Cesare Emiliani who wrote decades ago about how viruses might have been responsible for many of the extinctions in the geologic record.  Imagine my delight when receiving this paper from Special Research Scientist Enrico Bonatti giving a shout-out to Cesare’s newly topical hypothesis—very interesting.

     In another paper published this week in Nature, graduate student Jordan Abell, with Gisela Winckler, Bob Anderson and Tim Herbert, use sediments from the North Pacific Ocean to reconstruct variability in the Northern Hemisphere westerlies during the Pliocene. By quantifying dust fluxes to two sites separated by thousands of kilometers, they find that during the warm Pliocene, the westerly winds were located closer to the poles and were weaker than during the later Pleistocene glacial period. These findings suggest that observed poleward shifts in the westerlies over the last several decades may continue with anthropogenically-induced global warming.  As Shakespeare so eloquently said, “Past is prologue”.  The press release can be found here.

     We may not have the famous Lucy Jones, but we do have up-and-coming seismology graduate student Theresa Sawi!  Theresa was recently interviewed by Audrey Puente on Fox5 about earthquakes in the NY region.  The segment aired six times, three each on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. Folks who missed it can see it here.  Theresa, you were terrific!

     In other news, the newly formed Lamont Education Advisory Group, led by CU alumnus and friend of Lamont Frank Gumper, is about to have its first meeting. Their charge is to further the educational mission of the LDEO by providing valuable and necessary input for educational research, programming, and outreach. The committee will guide and advise the development and implementation of K-to-grey educational initiatives at Lamont, as well as the Columbia Climate School. These education and outreach activities reflect an intrinsic and broadly acknowledged need to bring our science message to the world outside of Lamont's gates. Such activities contribute to the public's awareness of the environmental challenges faced by society, and contribute to the education of the next generation of citizens and scholars.  I could not be more supportive of this effort.  

     I also want to give a shout-out to another volunteer effort being led by Carol and Greg Mountain and Hannes and Mary Ann Brueckner, all long-time members of the Lamont community.  They have volunteered to help excavate and catalog the decades of archives stored on the third floor of Lamont Hall in anticipation of that building’s eventual renovation.   Lamont is indeed fortunate to have so many people willing to pitch in and contribute, in so many ways, to our continued success and growth. 

     Finally, I’ll end with one last shout-out and a request.  First, thank you to all the B+G staff, especially Andy Reed and Howie Matza, who worked on campus through the holidays keeping an eye on things.   And second, please don’t hesitate to send news of notable goings-on in 2021.  I write about the events I hear about, so please send word of successes and milestones, large and small.

     Please have a safe and peaceful weekend.   Mo






Scientists Tracked Arctic Animals' Movements for Three Decades. This Is What They Found.

SciTech Daily

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Article on research co-authored by Lamont ecologist Natalie Boelman, wildlife ecologist Scott LaPoint, and Ph.D. Ruth Oliver.


Coastal Resilience in the Hudson Valley

Future Cities

Friday, January 1, 2021

Interview with Lamont geophysicist Klaus Jacob.


COVID-19 Brought Emissions Way Down in 2020, but What Will Hhappen When the Pandemic Is Over?

ABC News

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Jason Smerdon.


More Catastrophic Brahmaputra Flooding Feared

The Business Standard

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Article on study led by Lamont Ph.D. Mukund P. Rao.


Climate Change in 2020 Caused Some of the Worst Environmental Disasters in History


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Interview with Lamont climate scientist Jason Smerdon.


From the Atlantic Hurricane Season to Wildfires in the West: How 2020 Weather Shattered Records

ABC News

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Jason Smerdon.


New York Could Experience a Damaging Earthquake


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Article quotes Lamont graduate student Theresa Sawi.


Keeping Up with Fast Pace of Attribution Science

Yale Climate Connections

Monday, December 21, 2020

Article features Climate Attribution Database created by Sabin Center and Lamont.


Celebrating Marie Tharp

Science Magazine

Friday, December 18, 2020

Article features pioneering Lamont geologist Marie Tharp.


Corn Syrup Reveals How Bubbles Affect Lava’s Flow


Friday, December 18, 2020

Article on research by Lamont Ph.D. student Janine Birnbaum and colleagues.


Why an ‘Operation Warp Speed’ Approach Is Needed for Climate Change


Friday, December 18, 2020

Article cites research by Lamont Ph.D. Colin Raymond (now NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory postdoc), Lamont climate scientist Radley Horton, and colleague.


Why Brahmaputra Flood Risk Is 38% Higher than Thought Times of India

Times of India

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Article on study led by Lamont Ph.D. Mukund P. Rao.


Stunningly Preserved ‘Cretaceous Pompeii’ Fossils May Not Be What They Seem

Live Science

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Article features research led by Lamont intern and Columbia undergraduate Elaine Chen.




Will Global Warming Bring a Change in the Winds? Dust from the Deep Sea Provides a Clue.

January 06, 2021

A new study traces three-million-year-old winds to help predict future circulation patterns.


2020: A Year of Discovery at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

December 28, 2020

Despite the pandemic putting fieldwork on pause, the observatory contributed new knowledge about the planet, its inner workings, and its future changes.


Earth Networks Take Interdisciplinary Work to the Next Level

December 21, 2020

Working across the university, the Earth Networks will focus on climate mobility, environmental justice, habitable planets, and sustainable food systems.


A Year in Review: What to Take Forward From 2020

December 21, 2020

Columbia students and faculty consider the lessons that can be learned from this year to move toward a more equitable and sustainable future.


Spring 2021 Earth Institute Research Opportunities for Undergrads

December 16, 2020

Undergraduates from Columbia and Barnard will be able to work with distinguished faculty on research projects related to sustainable development and the environment.

Hello Friends,  Sorry about missing last week.  Max ate my final draft.  But seriously, this is a very stressful time with finals, AGU, the graduate student strike, the Climate School administration transition, omicron surging, holidays—everyone should be gentle with themselves, especially if some things have to slide.  Self-care is the most important priority, along with recognizing how long we have all been under the unrelenting stress of the pandemic.  Reach out if you need help.  Please. 

    I want to give a special shout of support to my colleagues on the first floor of Seismology who have now been displaced by Hurricane Ida by almost four months.  The remediation work is ongoing with unfortunate bumps in the road, but we are hopeful it will be done soon.  One person that has worked tirelessly on behalf of the SGT division during this crisis is the Division Administrator Bonnie Bonkowski.  For that and so much more she was recently awarded the Distinguished Staff Award of the Columbia Climate School.  Her nominators wrote, “Bonnie Bonkowski is an outstanding, experienced, and trusted Division Administrator (DA),” and her citation “commended (her) for going above and beyond what is asked of you, lifting burdens from others, and taking on daunting tasks such as restoring the division after the flooding following Hurricane Ida.”  Congratulations Bonnie! 

    You may have noticed that our new LDEO website went live earlier this week. We welcome your feedback, ideas, and collaboration on new content and features. We also encourage everyone to update their Climate School directory profiles ( and research projects ( These provide the source information for the LDEO website. Please contact our webmaster Tara Spinelli ([email protected]) with your comments and questions.  

    Staff Associate Margie Turrin wrote to remind us that, throughout December, the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC), will be running a virtual Antarctic Festival Month to honor the signing of the Antarctic Treaty on December 1st, 1959.  The treaty, 62 years ago this month, established the framework for international collaboration, science, and management of this fragile continent. Lamont team members Indrani Das, Frank Nitsche, and Margie Turrin are included in festival science videos and activities, including "Ask A Scientist".   

    If you have a great idea for a summer intern project studying Antarctica or elsewhere, the deadline looms.  The Lamont Summer Intern Program is soliciting projects for undergraduate students in its 2022 program. RFP here open till December 20th. 

    Now here is a benefit I never realized we had:  511NY Rideshare's Guaranteed Ride Program (GRP). The Guaranteed Ride Program covers the cost of travel from work in case of an emergency. This benefit is available to 511NY Rideshare members who work at Lamont and commute sustainably (using carpool, vanpool, shuttle, bike, bus, train, or walking) at least twice per week. To learn more about the Guaranteed Ride Program please visit  511NY Rideshare GRP. Register for 511NY Rideshare Guaranteed Ride Program here.  Lamont will enter you to win a $25 online reward card! 

    And speaking of specialized modes of transportation, a group of Columbia undergraduates from Mechanical Engineering has been working at the Machine Shop for the past few weeks using our welding facility and the Maker Space to fabricate parts for their project—to design and build a Race Car. They brought the car up to Lamont yesterday and are testing it around the Machine Shop. Nick Frearson says that it looks and sounds great!  Vroom.... 

    Thank you to everyone who came to the reception in honor of William B. F. Ryan, Special Research Scientist, to celebrate his election as a Foreign Fellow at the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei in Rome. The Accademia is one of the oldest European scientific institutions, founded in 1603, with one of its original members being Galileo Galilei. In addition to myself, Roger Buck, Suzanne Carbotte, Kim Kastens, and Alberto Malinverno all shared stories and tributes to Bill.  Alberto dubbed Bill Ryan "Linceo" or he with the lynx eyes, “an animal whose sharp vision symbolizes the observational prowess that science requires”.   

    I am also pleased to announce the addition of two new staff to the Climate School's Office of Research, which as you know is being led by Marley Bauce, our Associate Dean for Research who began in October.  Michael Shelter is the new Assistant Director of Research Initiatives responsible for running internal seed funding programs that catalyze high-risk research collaborations, and who will project manage interdisciplinary teams towards successful federal grant proposals.  Previously, Michael was the Administrative Manager within EVPR supporting research operations and proposal development. Our second new hire is Natalie Trotta who will be the Senior Manager of Faculty Development, responsible for launching workshops, training, mentorship programs, and other events that facilitate the professional growth and community interdependency across Lamont and the Climate School. Most recently, Natalie was the Senior Manager of Interschool Projects at the Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute.  From Marley, “Of course, we're building the airplane while flying it, and it will take some time to develop the programs, policies, and procedures, but we are on the case, and are excited to support you. Michael and Natalie will begin their first few months doing listening tours of Lamont's research community, and we encourage you to reach out for time to meet them over coffee.”   

    I’ll end with a science shout-out to a collaborative study published this week in Nature Communications, Earth & Environment and led by Lamont scientists Lorelei Curtin and Billy D’Andrea. They report that people were on the Faroe Islands by 500AD, centuries before the accepted Viking settlement period in the 9th century. They determined this by pinpointing and dating the first occurrence of sheep DNA and lipids from livestock feces in a lake sediment core they collected from the Faroes. While it remains uncertain who these first occupants were (St. Brendan?), it seems likely they were British Islanders rather than the Norse—and that they liked travelling with their sheep.  But did they have sheepdogs?  Inquiring minds want to know. 

    Wishing everyone an exceptionally lovely, much-needed break and I will write again in the new year.  Happy Holidays! 





The Meridian Chaser: Ricocheting Between Climate Divides Old and New 


December 15, 2021 

Features Lamont scientist Richard Seager. 


Deadly Tornadoes Bring Heartbreak and Questions About Resiliency and Climate Change 


December 15, 2021 

Interviews with Lamont scientist Chiara Lepore and Columbia scientist Michael Tippett. 


Tornados: Their Habits and Relation to Climate Change  

El Tiempo (Spain)  

December 14, 2021  

Quotes Lamont scientist Chiara Lepore.  


What Does Climate Change Have to Do With Deadly Tornadoes in America?  

24/7 News (Turkey)   

December 14, 2021  

On the other hand, tornadoes seem to concentrate in fewer days. When they form, they “tend to contain more” at the same time, explains Chiara Lepore, a researcher at Columbia University. And “this has consequences in terms of damage,” he stresses.   


Giant Cracks Push Imperiled Antarctic Glacier Closer to Collapse  


December 14, 2021  

“We have been expecting that ice shelf to fail, and that’s one of the reasons that there has been such a coordinated international effort to study Thwaites — it’s big and important, but it’s also been clearly poised on the brink of change,” says Kirsty Tinto, a geophysicist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, who has studied Thwaites. The latest work, she says, reveals more about how ice shelves fail. “Understanding those processes helps us to understand not just Thwaites, but also all the rest of Antarctica, past, present, and future,” she added.   


Enchanted Princess Cruise Ship Christened in Video Ceremony  

Cruise Critic   

December 14, 2021  

Lamont scientist Vicki Ferrini named ‘godmother’ of ship.   


Rising From the Antarctic, a Climate Alarm  

New York Times   

December 13, 2021  

Map data provided by Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.   


Enchanted Princess: New Medallion-Class Princess Ship Officially Named  

Cruise Trade News  

December 13, 2021  

Lamont scientist Vicki Ferrini named ‘godmother’ of ship.   


Princess Cruises Debuts Original Show With Naming of Enchanted Princess  


December 13, 2021  

Lamont scientist Vicki Ferrini named ‘godmother’ of ship.   


Are Tornadoes Linked to Climate Change? The Science Isn’t Yet Definite  

Agence France-Presse   

December 13, 2021  

What's more, when tornadoes do form, the outbreaks have become more clustered, even though the sum total across the year is about the same, said Chiara Lepore, a researcher at Columbia University.  

(wire service report; widely syndicated across the world)  


Scientists Are Working to Figure Out How Climate Change Influences Tornadoes  

NPR All Things Considered   

December 13, 2021  

Interviews with Lamont-Doherty scientist Chiara Lepore and Columbia Climate scientist Michael Tippett.   

Global Warming Can Set the Stage for Deadly Tornadoes  

Inside Climate News   

December 13, 2021  

Quotes Lamont scientist Chiara Lepore and Columbia scientist Michael Tippett.   


Science Is Cautious About Linking Tornadoes to Climate  

El Economista (Mexico)   

December 13, 2021  

Quotes Lamont scientist Chiara Lepore.   


Science Is Cautious Before Linking Tornadoes to Climate Change  

The Canadian (Canada) – Dec 13, 2021 n the other hand, tornadoes seem to concentrate in fewer days. When they form, they “tend to contain more” at the same time, explains Chiara Lepore, a researcher at Columbia University. And “this has consequences in terms of damage,” he stresses.   


Are Tornadoes Linked to Climate Change?  

The Australian  (Australia)  

December 13, 2021  

What's more, when tornadoes do form, the outbreaks have become more clustered, even though the sum total across the year is about the same, said Chiara Lepore, a researcher at Columbia University.  - What to expect next? -  Scientists, therefore, can only study changes in the conditions potentially favorable to them forming.  But it's still difficult to infer how this would translate to more tornadoes, said Lepore, the study's lead author.  However, very violent tornadoes will remain "rare events," rather than a "new normal," he predicted.    


Do Environmental Protection Laws Only Work When The Economy Is Doing Well?  


December 10, 2021  

Ben Bostick, an associate professor at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, takes exception to this thesis, fearing it is the wrong approach. “One of the things in our society that we’ve done is created a dichotomy. Either you are for the economy or for the environment.  “It creates this idea that permeates all society on various levels. By definition, there is an economic cost to an environmental protection and similarly, there is an environmental benefit to an economic loss. Both of which are probably not necessarily well-grounded in the basics,” he said.   


IFLScience Meets: Marine Biologist Sylvia Earle "The Greatest Era Of Exploration Is Just Beginning"  

IFL Science   

December 9, 2021  

“One woman who was is justifiably credited with great breakthroughs in terms of ocean mapping, Marie Tharp, as a graduate student could not accompany her scientific colleagues to go out and take the measurements that led to defining the Mid Atlantic Ridge; seafloor spreading plate tectonics; this whole revolution about understanding the nature of the earth. She had to wait until the calculations that her male colleagues assembled came back and then she crunched the numbers. She made the images, but she never got to gather the evidence herself.”  


Interview With Shashank Samala, Founder Of Heirloom Carbon Technologies  

Clean Technica   

December 8, 2021  

“I went down the rabbit hole of mineralization. I talked to lots of professors in that field, and eventually landed on Peter Keleman, who had a few great ideas on mineralization. Mineralization just means using rocks to capture CO2 out of the air. Many people are not aware that carbonates in the earth’s crust is the largest carbon sink we have. Period. More than biomass, more than trees, more than the ocean. Rocks have the most CO2 sequestered. How? Over geological time frames, these carbonates captured CO2 out of the air, and it was important to maintain the carbon balance of our atmosphere, just like how biomass helps maintain the carbon balance.”  


Marie Tharp, the Woman Who Drew the Map of the World as We Know It Today  

El Confidencial (Spain)   

December 9, 2021  

Profile of the Lamont scientist.  


Can Greenland Be Saved From Mining and Climate Change?  

The Hill  

December 8, 2021  

Some scientists like Marco Tedesco, a research professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, called his camp ”Little Venice.” Some models indicated increased snow over the next two decades or more but then the rain would come. Now the rain has come.  The melting glaciers would have humbled even the most diehard skeptics.  


Princess Cruises Names Godmothers of New Ship  

Cruise Radio   

December 6, 2021  

Lamont scientist Vicki Ferrini named ‘godmother’.  


Could Future Hurricane Seasons See Storms More Rapidly Intensify? 

Miami Herald  

December 1, 2021 

“They’re very hard to forecast. We know when they happen, we know the conditions where they tend to happen but it’s very hard to say this storm is going to have rapid intensification and when,” said Suzana Carmago, a research professor in the division of ocean and climate physics at Columbia University. “There’s a lot to be understood.” 




Humans Reached Remote North Atlantic Islands Centuries Earlier Than Thought 

December 16, 2021 

It was long accepted that the Vikings were the first people to settle the Faroe Islands, around 850 A.D. until traces of earlier occupation were announced in 2013. But not everyone was convinced. New probes of lake sediments clinch the case that others were there first. 

Study of West Antarctica’s Deep Past Reinforces Vulnerability to Melting 

December 15, 2021 

The continent’s western ice sheet turns out to once have been much bigger than previously thought. This implies that the now smaller version could waste quick 

Three Questions About Last Weekend’s Devastating Tornado Outbreak 

December 14, 2021 

Natural hazards expert Chiara Lepore explains some of the factors that contributed to making the outbreak uncommonly dangerous. 

Reactions That Store Carbon Underground Can Cause Cracking. That’s Good News. 

December 14, 2021 

A laboratory experiment found that as CO2 solidified, it caused the rock around it to crack. In real reservoirs, this process could open up space to pump in more CO2. 

American Geophysical Union 2021: Key Events From the Columbia Climate School 

December 07, 2021 

A guide to some of the most provocative talks at the world’s largest gathering of earth and space scientists.

    Hello Friends,  A short note to send us all off to a long weekend of relaxation and, if we are lucky, yummy comfort food with family.  As one of my children is in mandatory pre-travel quarantine this week, we had an early family Thanksgiving two weekends ago.  This holiday is such an important moment to pause and reflect on what we are grateful for in our lives and to appreciate and support the struggles of those fighting, across our communities and nation, for better wages, healthcare, representation, economic and social justice and more.  And of course, our ongoing work and activism on behalf of our beautiful planet Earth who can’t raise her own voice except through an increasing frequency of natural disasters and extinctions in response to our meddling with Mother Nature.

    In the last ten days I’ve been fortunate to meet and greet numerous folks engaged in these efforts.  This past Monday we welcomed our new state Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick to a tour of Lamont.  Senator Reichlin-Melnick represents the 38th district, which includes most of Rockland County and parts of Westchester County and he is deeply committed to climate causes and environmental justice.  We toured the Core Repository, Andy Juhl’s Marine Biology lab, and the Tree Ring Lab where Andy, Nikki Davi, Laia Andreu-Hayles, and myself all helped lay out the critical science going on in our groups.  We ended in the Directorate where we discussed the future of off-shore wind energy with Dave Goldberg, Lamont’s Deputy Director.  I think this was a great first step in working with our local representative and we all walked away thinking he would be a great partner in the efforts to build a more sustainable and scientifically-informed future.  Thank you everyone who contributed to the success of this visit, especially Louise McMath who led the planning effort.   

    Last Friday I also attended a meeting with Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk organized by the EVPR office of Jeannette Wing.  Scientists from across CU presented lightning talks about clean energy initiatives and we were able to learn more about DOE’s energy research priorities.  I followed this meeting with another meeting on Saturday, hosted by mutual colleagues, of a small group of locally-based DOE finance folks.  We focused our discussion on the types of partnerships that could be built between funding agencies, the university, and the finance sector.  What is the basic Earth and climate science research needed to inform and facilitate the clean energy transition?  All of these events were nicely capped by Monday’s presentation in the Columbia Climate School’s Earth Series that presented “Energy Transition Imperative: How Do We Get There From Here?” with Alex Halliday and Jason Bordoff, two of the founding Deans of the Columbia Climate School (and Alex of course also has his lab on the Lamont campus). 

    Moving to campus updates, I am pleased to report that we received 100 applications to the LDEO post-doctoral fellowship program.  Please look for the email from Ben Bostick with instructions on how to engage with the candidate review process.  With respect to the AGU Fall meeting and the annual LDEO reception, Stacey Vassallo from Development writes: “Although we would have liked to have held our traditional in-person reception at this year’s Fall AGU meeting, this is not possible due to the continued restrictions.  We hope to gather again next year in Chicago.” 

    A few shout-outs to the impactful work being done on campus: to Lamont Research Professor Bruce “The Lobbyist” Shaw, congratulations on being part of a team that was awarded the prestigious HPCwire Editor’s and Reader’s Choice Award in 2021 for “Best Use of HPC (high-performance computing) in the Physical Sciences”. Based on Bruce’s work, the study used supercomputers to simulate almost a million years of California earthquakes in order to better understand present-day risk.  You can read more about the study here.  Lamont Research Professor Einat Lev also shared a spectacular thermal video of the La Palma eruption taken by Lamont’s new drone’s camera.  And there are many more great stories at links below.

    On November 18th Lauren Ritchie, Columbia University undergraduate and founder of The Eco Justice Project, hosted Columbia Climate Conversations: The Sustainable Fashion Revolution, a discussion at the "intersection of food, climate change, and justice".  I appreciated the parting advice of one of the panelists—“Sustainable fashion is a life style, being intentional, consuming less, upcycling, thrifting, buying new and loving what you have”.  We follow this advice in our household with Patagonia’s Wornwear website and Eileen Fisher Renew being two family favorites to source clothing.  And have I mentioned my eyeglasses are made out of recycled ocean plastic?  (Yes Mo, you’ve mentioned that a million times.). And finally, DEES Professor Adam Sobel wrote a sobering article about the recent COP26 meeting in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reminding us all of the U.S.’s culpability in the climate crisis we are in.  You are right Adam, it is sad. 

    I’ll end by sharing an excerpt from a lovely letter (a real paper letter) I received this week from Dr. Jeff Fox, a former Lamonter and also former director of the Ocean Drilling Program.  He sent me an oil-bearing core sample (encased in acrylic) from DSDP Leg 1, Site 2 from the Gulf of Mexico that, if you think about it, is definitely not what you want to tap into from a scientific drill ship.  The good news, of course, is that nascent ocean drilling program did not cause a Deepwater Horizon-type disaster, and that after five decades of operations, the ocean drilling programs have never caused any sort of environmental degradation in the deep sea, let alone a disaster.  It is a safety record we can be proud of.  Jeff also wrote: “Based on my readings of the LDEO Weekly Report on matters arising at the Observatory, it suggests to me that you are spread so thin as to transmit light as you and the Directorate Team keep a steady hand on the tiller assuring Lamont’s productive scientific trajectory.  The summary of the contributions made on a weekly basis is remarkable regarding breadth and diversity.  I get exhausted just reading about these achievements and am reminded how lucky I was to pass through the LDEO portal.”

    Hear, hear!  Thank you, Jeff.  And I want to especially thank this week the Directorate Team, including Dave Goldberg, Miriam Cinquegrana, and Nicole DeRoberts especially.  Let us all take a few days off and thicken back up!

Have a peaceful break.  Mo




Why Did Glacial Cycles Intensify a Million Years Ago?

National Science Foundation 

November 24, 2021

Article on a study by Lamont researchers Maayan Yehudai and Steven Goldstein.


Greenland saw record ice loss from calving icebergs and ocean melt over the last year

The Washington Post 

November 23, 2021

“The long-term past two decades have shown us the incredible wrongness in calling ‘glacial pace’ something slow,” said Marco Tedesco, a research professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University.


Once Shunned in Antarctica, Women Are Doing Crucial Polar Research

Scientific American

November 18, 2021

Cites Lamont scientist Indrani Das.


COP26 Highlights an Infuriating, Depressing, Miserable Situation. And Yet…

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,

November 18

By Lamont scientist Adam Sobel.

The Tales Trees Tell, From History to Climate Change

Christian Science Monitor

November 17, 2021

Features Lamont Tree Ring Lab Director Ed Cook.


Cutting Carbon Emissions Means Changes in Daily Lives by Embracing Technology

Washington Post

November 16, 2021

Features Lamont’s Education and Outreach Coordinator Laurel Zaima.


Scientists Are Racing to Save the Last Ice Area, an Arctic Noah’s Ark

Science News

November 15, 2021

Article features Bob Newton, Senior Research Scientist at Lamont, and colleagues.

Where Covid-19’s Death Grip Slipped

SciTech Daily

November 15, 2021

Article on research led by Lamont scientist Lex van Geen.


What Can I Do to Further Climate Progress?

Inside Climate News

November 15, 2021

Interview with Lamont scientist Jason Smerdon.

2 Ivory Smugglers Captured in International Operation, U.S. Says

The New York Times

November 12, 2021

“We found that most of the ivory was less than three years old,” Kevin Uno, a paleoecologist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, said. “That’s bad news for elephants and good for governments because they’re there safeguarding their stockpiles”, Kevin added.


The ‘Last Ice Area’ May Provide an Arctic Refuge in a Warming World


November 11, 2021

Last Ice Area Study by Bob Newton, Senior Research Scientist at Lamont, and colleagues.



Where Covid-19’s Death Grip Slipped (Briefly)

November 15, 2021

Geochemist Lex van Geen works at the intersection of public health and environmental risks. His research on natural arsenic contamination in groundwater has alerted the world community to this insidious danger over two decades.

How Close Are We to Climate Tipping Points?

November 11, 2021

“As world leaders gather at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, to take bolder action against climate change, human activity has already warmed the planet 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels.”

    Hello Friends,  How many people enjoyed the swooping approach up the back entrance yesterday?  It was gracious and grand (potholes aside) with radiant colors from all fall foliage.  A big thanks to Andy Reed and his team, and Howie Matza and bus crew, for pivoting our transport procedures on a moment’s notice and getting the front entrance of Lamont repaved in time for winter.  The facilities crew has been short-handed for months, as we push forward with filling empty positions, and I am deeply appreciative of the incredible job they are doing.  We are also trying to fill a senior executive assistant position in the Directorate, as well as our Assistant Director for DEIA position.  I can tell you that it is a tough, tough hiring landscape out there, seemingly in every field. 

    Thank you to everyone who showed up Wednesday for the presentation by Federal Science Partners co-founders Meg Thompson and Joel Widder.  For those who missed, we forwarded a link to the recording and background materials.  The major message I took away was that there has never been a better time to reach out to your program managers and discuss future plans.  As a former early- and even mid-career researcher I’ve heard this advice before, but actually doing that (um, am I supposed to cold-email them???) often seemed far beyond my comfort zone.  If that sounds familiar, please reach out to Marley Bauce in the new Office of Research—maybe we can even get a small informal group together to discuss such connection strategies.  Lamont also has the benefit of having a number of former program managers, from various agencies, on our staff who are always happy to share their experiences and advice.  And knowing Marley, he will probably have a memo with action items on my desk before the ink is dry on this newsletter. 

    Next week, another Town Hall will discuss the organizational structure for the Climate School’s launch year as well as projects and initiatives being put in place to support our research community. And I very much doubt the ink will be dry on those PowerPoint slides when they are presented.  Every day the Climate School team is working on myriads of issues trying to push this ambitious, audacious endeavor forward.  Each day we are asking, “How does this best advance knowledge, scholarship, science, people, student experiences, and more?”.  The vast number of moving parts and the gargantuan size of this task can make it feel overwhelming—but I also know from conversations with colleagues outside of Columbia, that the world is incredibly impressed at the scale of Columbia’s ambition in attacking the problem of global sustainability and climate change.  I’m honored and humbled to be a part of this process.  Please register here for the Town Hall.

    On Monday, I met with one of Lamont’s biggest supporters, the Vetlesen Foundation and Maurizio Morello.  Each year we provide a report on LDEO’s annual activities and research ambitions and thank the Monell Family in particular for their ongoing support.  The Vetlesen Foundation also supports and underwrites the Vetlesen Prize, which is administered by LDEO and Columbia University and given out every three years.  It is essentially the Nobel Prize of Geosciences and was won most recently by Dr. Anny Cazenave for her work on geodesy and sea level.  In the new year we will begin the process of finding the next worthy recipient of this prestigious award and I will be reminded again of the generosity and support of the Vetlesen Foundation.  Some of you know this but Lamont’s first ship, the Vema, was given to Lamont by the Vetlesen family and the name of the ship was a combination of the names Vetlesen and Maude, Ambrose Monell’s grandmother.  Ambrose and I both were delighted to be sent this amazing and beautifully executed virtual exhibit titled “Voyagers of the R/V Vema. A quarter of a Century of Geophysical Research at Sea”, recently published by the American Institute of Physics.

    Two more announcements—please join me in wishing Marie DeNoia Aronsohn, our former Director of Strategic Communications, all the best in her new position as Director of Strategic Communications for Barnard College. She will transition to her new role at Barnard on Monday. Marie, thank you for all your outstanding contributions to Lamont over the past 4.5 years!  Not to mention the many video do-overs you gave me.  We will all miss you and wish you well in your next professional adventure within Columbia.  (And all media inquiries should be directed to Kevin Krajick until we are able to secure Marie's replacement.)

    Also, last semester, members of LDEO, CIESIN, and IRI started a “pod” of the national NSF-funded Unlearning Racism in Geoscience (URGE) program designed to promote anti-racism on campus. Building on the success of last semester’s Development phase, the URGE members at Lamont would like to invite newcomers to Lamont, or those who could not participate in the spring, to join “to improve our deliverables during the national URGE Refinement phase next spring.”  Please consider engaging with this important institutional effort. To participate or even just receive updates, please complete this Google form. You can learn about the initial stage, as well as the future of the program here. Or join via Slack here.

    This morning I enjoyed hosting the graduate students of the Climate and Society program on a Core Lab tour, peppering them with stories of manganese nodules, nannofossils, and nautical adventures. It reminds me to thank everyone who has been helping with ongoing tours of campus for downtown Columbia University leadership, students, and staff.  On Wednesday this week, that included Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Jim Glover and Executive Director, Project Management Kathryn Lattimer.  Within the Directorate we are always happy to facilitate tours and deeply appreciate the time Lamonters contribute to this effort.

    I’ll end with some nature numbers:  five hundred more daffodils planted this week; approximately ten days ago when the trees in the Lamont sanctuary forest stopped photosynthesizing, about 15 days later than usual (thanks Mukund!); and approximately a million lady bugs that descended on the campus this week.  They were literally flying into our faces during my patio meetings these past few days.

    Better than a swarm of locusts!   Have a lovely weekend.  Best, Mo



Scientists Explain Climate Change a Million Years Ago

Sciences et Avernir (France)

November  11, 2021

Article on a study by Lamont researchers Maayan Yehudai and Steven Goldstein.


Scientists Overturn a Million-Year-Old Climate Change Theory

EFE (Spain) 

November 10, 2021

Article on a study by Lamont researchers Maayan Yehudai and Steven Goldstein.


Major Climate Shift a Million Years Ago Linked to Ocean Currents 

November 10, 2021

Article on a study by Lamont researchers Maayan Yehudai and Steven Goldstein.


Researchers Explore Why Glacial Cycles Intensified a Million Years Ago

Azo Cleantech

November 9, 2021

The researchers analyzed cores of deep-sea sediments taken in the south and north Atlantic, where ancient deep waters passed by and left chemical clues. "What we found is the North Atlantic, right before this crash, was acting very differently than the rest of the basin," said lead author Maayan Yehudai, who did the work as a PhD. student at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.


Weather or Not: How You Can Fight Climate Change


November 8, 2021

Interview with Lamont scientist Radley Horton.


Something Big Happened to the Planet a Million Years Ago

SciTech Daily 

November 7, 2021

Article on a study by Lamont researchers Maayan Yehudai and Steven Goldstein.


Voyages of the R/V Vema

American Institute of Physics 

November 7, 2021

Extensive multimedia exhibit on Lamont’s R/V Vema.


What's behind climate talks' key elusive goal

Associated Press

November 7, 2021

“It’s physically possible (to limit warming to 1.5 degrees), but I think it is close to politically impossible in the real world barring miracles", Columbia University climate scientist Adam Sobel said. “Of course we should not give up advocating for it”, he added.


The Truth About Carbon Capture Technology

Popular Science

November 5, 2021

“There has been a lot of work on how to separate that carbon dioxide from other gases,” Peter Kelemen, a professor of earth and environmental sciences at Columbia University, says. “Once you have it, of course, you have to store it someplace.” From Kelemen’s perspective, storage and sequestration are “pretty much synonymous,” except sequestration is used when the storage of the carbon dioxide is “essentially permanent” through methods like geological storage. The Norwegian  Sleipner Project in the North Sea, for example, stores dense carbon dioxide fluid under pressure in a pore space under the seabed, Kelemen says. 


Melting Greenland Ice Linked to Rising Seas

Fox Weather 

November 4, 2021

Interview with Lamont scientist Marco Tedesco.



Why Did Glacial Cycles Intensify a Million Years Ago?

November 8, 2021

“A new study suggests that a million years ago, glaciers began sticking more persistently to their beds, triggering cycles of longer ice ages. Here, ice discharged from Iceland’s Breiðamerkurjökull glacier on its way to the Atlantic ocean.”

    Hello Friends,  Last week I had the pleasure of being a guest at Reid Hall in Paris, one of the Columbia World Centers.  I gave a public talk at the Institute for Ideas and Imagination, which if you think about that name, how can one not be a little bit dazzled and impressed?  So much of our life in academia is the pursuit of ideas, preferably with a large dose of imagination tossed in.  At the Institute, writers and creative artists come together for a year-long dialogue and fellowship.  I was there to share my knowledge of climate science, a topic of intense interest to most scholars today, no matter what their field.  I am extremely grateful to Center Director Brune Biebuyck and Institute Associate Director Marie d’Origny for their wonderful hospitality during my stay.  They are actively looking for more scientists to engage with and their online portal for applications for the 2022-23 Fellowship cycle is now open.

    Now I’m back in town and the rest of the Climate School co-Deans, along with a number of our Lamont colleagues, are off in Glasgow taking part in COP26, an international conference focused on the global challenge of rapidly decarbonizing our future.  Yesterday, CU hosted a panel on “Turning Ambition into Action”, with Mary Nichols, Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy; Peggy Shepard of WeAct; Catherine McKenna, Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change; as well as Jason Bordoff and Alex Halliday, Deans of the Columbia Climate School. Here is the twitter thread and the video will eventually be posted to Climate School website, along with all CU COP related content here.

    One of LDEO’s postdocs, Catalina Sanchez-Roa, a scientist in Lamont’s Seismology Geology and Tectonophysics Division who is working on decarbonization, is also currently at COP26.   She wasn’t granted permission from Columbia until the middle of last week, and after obtaining a whirlwind special visa that she picked up on Friday, she flew to Glasgow on Saturday.  Her Twitter feed has lots of fun stuff, including this pic of the mythical “emergency passport”.  Nice to know these unicorns actually do exist!  And of course, if you haven’t seen this video—who doesn’t love a good dinosaur?

    Cue up the Town Halls—information is a-flowing!  On November 10th, from 3:00 - 4:00 PM, Federal Science Partners co-founders Meg Thompson and Joel Widder will host a virtual town hall on “Briefing on Federal Science Funding for FY 2022”.  Our eyes and ears on the ground in D.C. will fill us in on the latest crazy going on in a government arena trying to build-back-better.  A Zoom link will be forthcoming.  Also hold the date on November 17 at 1:00 PM for a Town Hall hosted by the ever-popular Climate School Co-Founding Deans.  We will be discussing the organizational structure for the School’s launch year as well as projects and initiatives being put in place to support our research community. Please register here.

    Note also we have extended the application deadline of the Lamont Postdoctoral Fellowship to next Friday, November 12.  Fellowships are open to candidates who have recently completed their PhD or expect to complete their degree requirements by September 2022. Please be sure to share this opportunity via email or social media!

    Please also join me in congratulating Christine Chesley who today successfully defended her thesis on “Marine electromagnetic studies of the Pacific Plate and Hikurangi Margin, New Zealand”.  Christine plans to continue her research on the tectonics and faulting of the seafloor as a WHOI Postdoctoral Scholar with Dr. Rob Evans. 

    Finally, I want to thank Art Lerner-Lam and Cassie Xu for joining me in our annual meeting with and presentation to the Trustees of the Doherty Foundation this week.  Walter Brown and the trustee board have been incredible supporters of our education and outreach programs over many years.  We are lucky to have so many ardent supporters of our research and educational missions, none more so than the Doherty family after which the Observatory is named.

    Wishing all a peaceful weekend.  Best, Mo



Statute of Liberty Photos Do Not Prove Sea Level Rise Is a Myth


November 5, 2021

“The (relative) sea level rise (SLR) in NYC (Battery tide gauge) is about 1.1 inches in every decade, or about a foot in a century,” Dr. Klaus Hans Jacob, Special Research Scientist in Seismology, Geology, and Tectonophysics at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Colombia Climate School, told Reuters (here).  “A photographic comparison between 2020 and 1920 is meaningless since the daily tides in New York harbor are several feet every day, and therefore are larger than the SLR for the last 100 years,” he added.


Climate Change Is a Universal Problem, But It Hits Some People Harder than Others

NBC News

November 3, 2021


China suffering its most widespread Covid-19 outbreak since Wuhan with 19 provinces seeing new cases

Daily Mail – Nov 3, 2021

'As the atmosphere warms up, air can hold more moisture, so when storms occur, they can rain out more extreme precipitation,' said Richard Seager, a climate scientist at Columbia University. 'Chances are extremely likely that human-induced climate change caused the extreme flooding you saw this summer in places like China and Europe.'


Climate Change Is a Universal Problem, But It’s Hitting Some People Harder Than Others

NBC News 

November 3, 2021

Interview with Lamont scientist Radley Horton.


Greenland’s Ice Sheet Is Melting at Such a Fast Pace, It Is Heightening Worldwide Risk of Flooding

UK Today News

November 1, 2021

A separate observation of Greenland found its ice sheets lost 8.5 billion tons of surface mass on July 27, which is enough ice to cover Florida in two inches of water. Melting events can create feedback loops that drive further warming and melting in Greenland, according to Marco Tedesco, a climate scientist at Columbia University.  As snow melts, it exposes darker ice or ground beneath, which absorbs more sunlight rather than reflecting it back out of the atmosphere.  ‘It really positions Greenland to be more vulnerable to the rest of the melting season,’ Tedesco, research professor at Columbia University´s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, told Reuters.


'Ordinary People Suffer Most': China Farms Face Climate Woes.

Associated Press

November 2, 2021

“As the atmosphere warms up, air can hold more moisture, so when storms occur, they can rain out more extreme precipitation,” said Richard Seager, a climate scientist at Columbia University. “Chances are extremely likely that human-induced climate change caused the extreme flooding you saw this summer in places like China and Europe.”


Fall Foliage Watch: Scientists Say Climate Change Is Doing A Number On The Northeast


 November 1, 2021

Quotes Jason Smerdon of LDEO and Benjamin Cook of GISS.


COP26: This Is What Individuals Can Do to Slow Down Climate Change

ABC News

October 31, 2021

Features Lamont scientist Jason Smerdon.


'On Wall Street, there will be water': How cities will adapt to climate change

Yahoo News

October 30, 2021

Klaus Jacob has been studying climate change for more than half a century and served on the New York City Panel on Climate Change for over a decade. During that time, he told Yahoo News, he has seen "more and more severe disasters," and he has urged policymakers to prepare for far worse events to come.  Currently a Special Research Scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and an adjunct professor at Columbia University, Jacob warns that parts of many coastal cities, such as New York, will be regularly inundated by the end of this century.


Urgency pervades COP26 climate change summit as US grapples with environmental justice

USA Today 

October 29, 2021

Quotes Radley Horton of LDEO.


Scientists express doubt that Glasgow climate change conference will be successful

Yahoo News

October 28, 2021

“We’ve got to have a global plan that works both on the mitigation side, namely to reduce greenhouse gases as quickly as possible and get that financed internationally,” [Klaus] Jacob said, “and not just the main emitters — nations like the U.S., China, Brazil or Europe, and maybe India. But we also have to address it on the adaptation side, and just think about nations like Bangladesh or Vietnam, that have tens and hundreds of millions of people that by the end of the century will have to be moved.”


Floods, Flames and Heat: Images of This Year’s Extreme Weather Offer a Stark Backdrop for COP26 Climate Summit

Washington Post

October 26, 2021

“Arctic Sea Ice Is, In Fact, Disappearing,” Robert Newton, Senior Research Scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, told Reuters Via Email. The late summer minimum sea ice extent has “diminished by nearly half in the last 40 years”, he said.


This Year’s Extreme Weather Offers A Stark Backdrop For COP26 Summit

Washington Post

Oct 26, 2012

“This was a really extreme year,” said Radley Horton, a Research Professor focused on climate extremes at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “Right now we’re seeing the climate extremes changing so fast that that alone is demonstrating that going past 1.5 Celsius will be something we won’t adapt to.”


The Fate Of Arctic Sea Ice


October 26, 2021

The peer-reviewed Journal Earth’s Future published these scientists’ study on September 2.  Co-author Robert Newton of Columbia University used the word “experiment” to describe Earth’s climate – and the repercussions of global warming – in the Arctic.


Timber Salvaged From New York City Buildings Reveals Ancient Climate

National Geographic – Oct 22, 2021

Article on research by Lamont tree-ring scientists Caroline Leland, Mukund Rao and Edward Cook.


‘Medicane’ Is a Real Phenomenon


October 27, 2021

"Medicanes are very much like hurricanes," says Dr. Richard Seager of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. He told CNN that because medicanes are "geographically confined over the Mediterranean Sea and are surrounded by land" they are typically smaller than a hurricane and often dissipate quicker.


Predicting Exactly When Natural Resources, Ecosystems And Species May Disappear Is Not Possible, Experts Say

Reuters – Oct 26, 2021



Communication is a two way exchange, yet all too often we forget the most critical part!

October 29, 2021

“The Hudson River is one of the most important geographical features in New York impacting the communities that lie along its banks. Despite the close proximity to the river, many of the communities along the Hudson are misinformed or know very little about the river. Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory’s Next Generation of Hudson River Educators Internship (Next Gen) provides high school students a summer opportunity to uncover the truth about the Hudson River.”


Tackling a 40 Million-Year-Old Conundrum

October 24, 2021

“A new study bolsters the idea that the uplift of the Himalayas and Andes that began tens of millions of years ago helped trigger the ice ages that followed.”

    Hello Friends,  It was so great to see how many people contributed to support Lamont science and scientists on Columbia University’s Giving Day!  Thanks to the generosity of Ed Botwinick and Vicki Brown, long-time supporters and friends of LDEO, Lamont had a $100,000 challenge match that was met and surpassed.  I am delighted to share that on October 20, 2021, LDEO received 163 gifts totaling $235,341. We are so deeply grateful to all for this support of Lamont’s mission and research.  In addition to donations, LDEO will win challenge funds for their spot on the leaderboard and $2,000 from this great throwback tweet by Lamont alumna Christa Farmer.  Christa thank you!  A special thanks to the Development Team who led the Giving Day efforts, as well as to all the members of our community who contributed or participated in the day’s activities.  

    Within the Directorate, we continue to strive to use our resources wisely for maximum impact, appreciating that sometimes the biggest impact can come from a free cookie and cup of coffee with colleagues.  So great that we can still be outside with nibbles enjoying this beautiful weather.  On a grander scale, we are nearing a critical milestone in the building of a new Observatory website.  Today I got a presentation of the new site and it will be awesome—far more versatile and informative, not to mention better organized, than what we have now.  A soft launch is planned for December and more info will be sent in the coming weeks.  There will be a last-minute scramble to get as much content migrated as possible, with the weak link being the content that needs input from individual scientists.  A big thanks goes to the IT and Comms teams at EI and LDEO, and especially Tara Spinelli for her Herculean efforts in making this dream become a reality. 

    The news from the federal agencies in Washington continues to be good.  Our Federal Science Partners, Joel Widder and Meg Thompson, agreed to come give a Town Hall presentation to our scientists during early November.  They plan to give an overview of the opportunities they see evolving as the federal budget process continues to trundle forward.  Keep an eye out for an email to save the date.   

    Other efforts moving forward include the buildout of the Office of Research in the Climate School.  Of course, this office is there to help us all.  Marley Bauce, formerly of the EVPR Office, is the new Director of this office and he is working hard to hire needed staff and build out new programs, including Climate School seed funding programs.  I have invited Marley to also give a town hall presentation in a few weeks, which he has enthusiastically agreed to do.  This is a great time to be connecting our LDEO strategic plan with ambitious proposals, and I am thrilled to hear that many groups are engaging in conversations around these topics.  I also want to thank Marley for his presentation at ExCom today and for the incredibly useful follow-up discussion on how we move forward with the implementation of the Lamont Strategic Vision Plan. 

    The last bit of news this week concerns the University Senate Plenary Meeting which was held earlier today.  They met to consider a resolution to amend the University statutes to allow the formation of a Faculty for the new Columbia Climate School.  I am happy to report that the resolution passed resoundingly.  This is an historic moment in the history of the University—a critical step in the formation of a new school focused on climate, Earth, and society—an action that will reverberate through the Lamont campus for decades to come.  Thank you especially to our Lamont representatives on the Senate, Billy D’Andrea, Marco Tedesco, and Sonya Dyhrman.  As we continue to move forward with the establishment of the Columbia Climate School, may it bring many wonderful and new opportunities to Lamont, IRI, CIESIN, and DEES as we work together to address the twin challenges of global warming and global sustainability. 

    In closing, enjoy this lovely weather and have a peaceful weekend.  I highly recommend reading the last blog post below about DEES Prof. Renata Wenzcovitch’s recent paper in Nature….it is pretty amazing stuff.   

    Best, Mo 



What Drove Homo Erectus Out of Africa? 

Smithsonian Magazine 

October 19, 2021 

In 2020, Rachel Lupien, a postdoctoral research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, used chemical signatures in plant leaf waxes preserved in the sediments of the Turkana Basin to identify a sudden shift in climate—from arid to humid and rainy—that roughly coincides with the rise of this technology. 


Tree Rings Reveal a 700-Year Record of Flooding in Bangladesh 


October 15, 2021 

By Lamont scientists Mukund Rao and Ben Cook. 


The Future of Fall: How Climate Change Threatens New England Foliage 


October 15, 2021 

Features Lamont scientists Jason Smerdon and Ben Cook. 


Science Communication on Trial Following a Volcanic Disaster 


 October 15, 2021 

By EI professor John Mutter. 


Polar Bears Might Go Extinct by End of the Century If Arctic Ice Continues to Melt 

Nature World News 

October 15, 2021 

Artic Study by Robert Newton, Senior Research Scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth   Observatory 


Polar bears could vanish by the end of the century, scientists predict 

Live Science

October 14, 2021 

"Unfortunately, this is a massive experiment we're doing," study co-author Robert Newton, a senior research scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said in a statement. "If the year-round ice goes away, entire ice-dependent ecosystems will collapse, and something new will begin." 


The Arctic May Lose Its "Last Ice Area" This Century 

October 14, 2021


Warming Climate Threatens Arctic Ocean's Last Ice Area; Could Vanish by 2100 Along With Creatures That Rely on It 

The Science Times 

 October 13, 2021 



Alumni Spotlight: Sharelle Pampo Copple 

October 19, 2021

Sharelle Pampo Copple is a recent alumna of the Sustainability Science (SUSC) program (‘21). “Sharelle has witnessed the effects of coral bleaching firsthand. This experience is what initially sparked her passion for climate change and sustainability.” 


Data Scientist Garima Raheja Is Addressing the Environmental Justice Issues of Air Pollution 

October 19, 2021

“After spending most of her childhood in New Delhi, India — one of the most polluted cities in the world — air pollution had become a fact of life for Garima Raheja.” 


Quantum Phase Transition Is Detected on a Global Scale in the Deep Earth 

“Scientists have for the first time documented areas in the deep earth where materials have undergone changes on a subatomic level. There, crushing pressures apparently are bringing about a long hypothesized but until now unproven quantum phase transition called a spin crossover, which affects the magnetic state of a key deep-earth mineral.” 

    Hello Friends,  Isn’t October great!?  I’d give it the best month award any year.  I received some good news from downtown yesterday.  The campus federal indirect cost return rate has been revised upward by 1.5%, which will put more money into our operating budget next fiscal year. The fact that this news made me so happy makes me worry I have a bad case of directoritis. 

    In other news from Washington D.C., the National Academies recently released a new report on Next-Generation Earth Systems Science at the National Science Foundation. Quoting Federal Science Partners, “The report concludes that to explore the complex interactions between the natural world and society and enhance our understanding of Earth’s systems — the atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, cryosphere, biosphere, and the individuals, institutions, and technologies that respond to and influence these dynamics — the National Science Foundation should create a next-generation Earth systems science initiative.  The report says NSF’s next-generation Earth systems science initiative should innovate, advance, and nurture an integrated research approach for the field. This will require NSF to place an increased emphasis on research inspired by real-world problems while maintaining its strong legacy of curiosity driven research across many disciplines — and to enhance the participation of social, engineering, and data scientists, and strengthen its efforts to include diverse perspectives in research.”   

    It is hard to read this and not appreciate how aligned this vision is with the strengths of the Lamont Campus, especially as the Climate School continues to expand and deepen our transdisciplinary connections across the university.  This all bodes very well for us, especially as we maintain a parallel commitment to increasing diversity, and diverse perspectives, on our campus. 

    Thank you to everyone who engaged with Lamont Open House this week.  So many great events unfolded online over the last few days.  It was my pleasure to introduce a lively moderated discussion on wind power with Dave Goldberg, Robin Bell and Róisín Commane.  So often our work unfolds in exotic distant locations of great natural beauty, but Róisín’s work in our backyard of NYC was an informative and (dare I say) entertaining exposé of just how awful and polluting the power delivery grid of this great city is.  We have a long way to go to a cleaner, more sustainable future and hopefully offshore wind will help blow us along that path.   

    Big shout-outs go to Kevin Uno, Kailani Acosta, Cassie Xu, Stacey Vassallo, Christine McCarthy, Yves Moussallam, Jacky Austermann, Chris Zappa, Marie deNoia Aronsohn and so many more who contributed to the success this year’s Open House.  I especially appreciate your efforts given that the level of pandemic fatigue seems to be at an all-time high.   

    But let’s not let pandemic fatigue lead to wallet fatigue!  Next Wednesday, October 20th, is the one, the only, Columbia Giving Day—a 24-hour online event where a community of alumni, students, parents, friends, neighbors, faculty, and staff come together to show their support for our great institution.  I am delighted to share that Lamont supporters Ed Botwinick and Vicki Brown have, once again, donated a $100,000 challenge match this year.  This means that all gifts will be matched dollar for dollar up to $100,000.  Ed and Vicki, we at Lamont thank you for your tremendous generosity.  I hope everyone will visit the Lamont Giving Day page and show your support on October 20th.  Of course, your help in getting the message out with likes, retweets, and shares of Lamont’s social media posts is also appreciated.  Let’s surpass last year’s total together! 

    Also next week, on October 18th at 6:00 PM, Columbia Climate School Earth Series will present “Going to Extremes: Global Hazards and the Path to Resilience", a conversation moderated by Alex Halliday, Founding Dean of the Columbia Climate School, with the participation of Suzana Camargo, Marie Tharp Lamont Research Professor, Jeff Schlegelmilch, Research Scholar and the Director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at the Columbia Climate School, and Daniel Zarrilli, Special Advisor for Climate and Sustainability at Columbia University. Please mark your calendars and register here

    I’ll wrap up by reporting that I observed a Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus) on a campus walk yesterday.  It was on cement but it was heading toward the grass and, presumably, a more hospitable amphibian home.  Fun fact, they have no lungs—they breathe through their skin.  Linda Pistolesi of CIESIN also observed something interesting on a walk across campus this past week—a Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula).  This is a highly invasive and destructive species that should be reported when spotted.  It is hard for me to even write this, but the recommended action is death-by-stomping.  For more information on this invasive go here.  We apparently are near ground-zero in Rockland County. 

    From the Cornell Cooperative Extension site: “Orangeburg is the site of the largest current infestation in Rockland County. The other infestation in Sloatsburg is significantly smaller. The point of origin for the Orangeburg Infestation is the intersection of the Joseph B Clarke Rail Trail and Route 303. It is imperative for people who are within three miles of this location to check their cars, any shipments they are involved with, and person for any Spotted Lanternflies. Any instances should be reported and then killed. The easiest way to kill them is by swatting them or stomping on them. Currently, this site is being treated with pesticides and circle traps to lower the population of Spotted Lanternfly present.” 

    Pancrustacean hexapod invertebrate death sentences aside, have a peaceful weekend.    

    Best, Mo 



Arctic summer-sea ice covers less than half the area it did in early 1980s and may not last to 2100 

Daily Mail 

October 13, 2021 

''If the year-round ice goes away, entire ice-dependent ecosystems will collapse, and something new will begin.',' Robert Newton, a research scientist at Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory said in a statement.    


What Drove Homo Erectus Out of Africa? 


October 13, 2021 

Quotes Lamont grad student Rachel Lupien. 


Sea Levels Will Rise, But Decisions at COP 26 Will Determine How Much 

The Energy Mix

October 13, 2021 

Cites research at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. 


Scientists Find Evidence of Manmade Warming Going Back to Early 1900s 

ZME Science

October 13, 2021 

Story on research coauthored by Lamont scientists Ben Cook and Jason Smerdon. 


EU's Greenland Power Grab: Bloc Moves in on Arctic's 'Last Ice Area' 


October 14, 2021

“GLOBAL WARMING is threatening to render the Arctic Ocean year-long ice a thing of the past, as scientists warn the region's "Last Ice Area" may collapse before the end of the century 


Polar Bears Could Vanish by End of This Century, Scientists Predict 


October 13, 2021 


Arctic Sea Ice May Make a Last Stand in This Remote Region 

Environmental News Network

October 13, 2021 


The Arctic May Lose Its ‘Last Ice Area’ This Century

October 13, 2021 


In the Year 2100, There Will Be Tragedy in the Arctic If We Don’t Curb Emissions 

El Espectador (Spain)

October 12, 2021 


Ice Zone in the Arctic May Not Last This Century 

Europapress (Spain)

October 12, 2021 

(wire service report; widely syndicated) 


The ‘Last Ice Territory’ of the Arctic Ocean May Not Survive This Century 


October 12, 2021 


Remaining Arctic Sea Ice May Not Last This Century 


October 12, 2021 


Scientists Predict the Year That Polar Bears Will Disappear 


October 12, 2021 


Why One Queens Block Has Flooded For Decades 


October 7, 2021 

Klaus Jacob, a geophysicist at Columbia University who studies climate change in cities, said the phenomenon has been observed across the city. "When people started to get [the city's] water supply, that’s when suddenly the water table rose, even in Manhattan," he said. "People suddenly had flooded basements." 



Scientists and Native People Jointly Study Sea-Ice Declines Threatening Seal Hunts 

October 14, 2021

“Climate change has severely reduced the length of the seal hunting season in a rural Alaska village, potentially threatening a key feature of the community’s way of life. Several new scientific studies, designed and carried out with members of the village, give a close-up look at exactly what is happening.” 


Arctic Sea Ice May Make a Last Stand in This Remote Region. It May Lose the Battle. 

October 12, 2021

“Study Sees a Daunting Outlook for Year-Round Ice and Its Ecosystems” 

    Hello Friends, It is shaping up to be a lovely weekend and you hopefully can find some time to catch up on all the great science stories in the October edition of the Lamont Newsletter.  I always enjoy hearing about the projects going on around campus and was struck this week by the wide variety of topics that are incorporating machine learning and artificial intelligence into data analysis.  I’d like to take a campus census on this and will send out an email request next week. 

    In the meantime, I was pretty amazed at the story about the undergraduate research project of Jasper Baur who is now a graduate student with LRP Einat Lev at LDEO.  Jasper uses drones with various imaging capabilities to search for and identify land mines, at a fraction of the cost of typical minefield remediation.  With their miniaturized sensors they can even find insidious plastic landmines, like the Russian-made PFM-1 mine which apparently can be dropped en masse from airplanes and flutters gently to the ground.  Setting aside how horrific it is to drop explosive toy-like objects from the sky, thank goodness scientists like Jasper are thinking deeply about this problem.  With his co-authors, he published a paper in the Journal of Conventional Weapons Destruction, possibly a first at Lamont.  And what is even more amazing, his team used machine learning to train their systems to be as accurate as possible.  Jasper, I’m not sure I’d recognize you on campus given the small picture in the story—please introduce yourself if/when we cross paths.

    The stories in the newsletter complemented some great talks this week.  From Geoff Green’s inspiring Summer Stars lecture to the recording session in Monell Auditorium for some of the terrific science talks being prepared for Open House at Home next week.  Ahoy Christine McCarthy, does Earth generate paperclip heat?  If you want to understand that question you will have to listen to her talk about the search for life on the outer planets!  Open House is on October 13 – 14th, with programming that includes an exciting virtual and interactive lineup of events, including K-12 activities, panel discussions, lectures, and more.   Visit the Open House website for details.  While the event is free and open to the public, we greatly appreciate a $5 suggested donation. Learning from world-renowned researchers about their latest discoveries….priceless!

    Two more notable lectures happened yesterday, on October 7th.  I hosted and moderated a presentation by renowned artist Mark Dion on his latest art installation opening today on Governors Island, The Field Station of the Melancholy Marine Biologist.  (sigh…)  Mark’s new “folly” transforms one of the island buildings “into an abandoned research outpost, filled with scientific objects, instruments, artifacts, and samples. As visitors peer through the building’s windows, they witness a scene preserved in time—a moment, Dion explains, ‘where somebody studying the natural world realizes that the future is not looking so good…that we are going to lose a great amount of the natural wonders that have been here in previous centuries.’ The work invites reflection on the tools and methodologies through which audiences seek to understand the world around them, while inviting visitors to imagine the life of a solitary researcher faced with the realities of a dark future with declining ocean health impacted by climate change.”  It’s not so hard for me to imagine.

    Lamont Research Professor Mike Kaplan also gave a lecture yesterday at the Eighth Annual Scarsdale High School Global Citizenship Day, in Westchester County.  Mike shared his billing with me:   "Mr. Kaplan, of Columbia University, will explore the changing climates in the Arctic and Antarctic and the connections to global climate change."  Indeed—well done Mr. Kaplan!  And thank you to Mike and everyone who engages in the critical work of educating the next generation of global citizens.

    I am also pleased to officially announce the opening of Lamont’s Lightboard Studio on the first floor of the Geoscience building (opposite the DEES office). The Lightboard Studio was created to help faculty, researchers, and staff produce high-quality videos of their lectures, presentations, and tutorials. The lightboard is “a glass chalkboard pumped full of light. It’s for recording video lecture topics. You face towards your viewers, and your writing glows in front of you”.  A huge thanks goes to the IT department, especially Phil Fitzpatrick and Golam Sarker; to the B and G crew for creating a cool black studio room; to post-doc Oana Dumitru and graduate student Claire Jasper for building a website and making the studio user-friendly; and finally, to DEES Professors Jonny Kingslake and Bärbel Hönisch, for their two engaging sample presentations "Ice Shelf Melting” and "The Other CO2 Problem", respectively, that can give you a sense of what is possible.  Please visit the Studio website for more details.

    Lastly, a few bits of news-you-can-use.  Columbia University will be offering free flu vaccines from October 4 –29.  More details and schedule here.  Bright Horizons is planning to reopen on October 18th. And we are hoping that COVID testing will be back at Lamont next week.  Thank you very much to Howie Matza and his team for helping to make that happen.  Finally, the Lamont Climate Center is accepting submissions for the fall 2021 Requests for Proposals until Monday, November 1. For detailed information and updated guidelines please visit the Climate Center website.

    In closing, I hope you can all join me today for the Friday colloquium presenting “A close look at Earth’s largest carbon isotope excursion”, by Jon Husson of the University of Victoria.

    Have a peaceful weekend.  Best, Mo



Why the Nobel Prizes in medicine, physics, chemistry, and economics are flawed


October 6, 2021

We’ve done episodes in the past about Vera Rubin and Henrietta Leavitt and Marie Tharp. They all made huge contributions to science, and none of them ever won Nobels. Which is obviously part of a larger, longer-term problem of sexism in science, but the Nobels don’t help.


As Climate Changes, Floodplain Maps a Potential ‘Weak ‘Link’

Scripps TV

October 5, 2021

“There are a lot of people who may be underestimating their risk,” said Radley Horton, a research professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University’s The Earth Institute. “With climate change, there's more heat in the atmosphere and a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture.”


Welcome to Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Columbia News,

October 4, 2021


NYC’s Old Buildings a Source of Historical Data

Frontiers in Ecology and Environment

October 4, 2021

Article on research by Lamont scientists Caroline Leland and Mukund Rao.


The Megadrought in the Western US Is Entering Its 22nd Year. The Causes Are Partly Natural, Partly Produced by Humans.

Neue Zurcher Zeitung (Germany)

October 1, 2021

Features Lamont scientist Jason Smerdon.


Drought and Wildfire Concerns Worsen at California’s Largest Reservoir

September 30, 2021

Quotes GISS scientist Ben Cook.


Impacts of Ida Expose Underlying Environmental Health Disparities

Columbia Spectator

Sep 30, 2021

Quotes Lamont professor Art Lerner-Lam and EI professor John Mutter.


Risk of oil spills may rise as climate change creates more monster storms

ABC News

Sep 29, 2021

The Greenland ice sheet, the biggest contributor to sea level rise, has added about 10 millimeters to ocean levels over the last 15 years alone, Marco Tedesco, a polar scientist specializing in Greenland for the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, told ABC News.



Now-Extinct Giant South American Sloth Likely Devoured Meat With Its Vegetables

October 7, 2021


Attribution Science: Linking Climate Change to Extreme Weather

October 4, 2021


Recap of Climate Week NYC 2021 at Columbia

October 4, 2021


EI LIVE K12 Is Back for the Academic Year

September 30, 2021

   Hello Friends, What a spectacular week of fall weather! Wednesday afternoon on the Director's patio was a lovely setting to meet so many of our new, and not so new, Postdoctoral Research Scientists. I was struck by the incredible diversity of subjects and homelands represented in this cohort - this is how you build a global network of colleagues. Thanks to the cafeteria for the delicious nibbles. I also had a Zoom meeting on Wednesday afternoon discussing the impacts of climate change on professional sports with a number of the World Cup-winning USA Women's Soccer Team (who by the way, are also fighting the good fight).

    Lots is going on but the big announcement this week is that two of our colleagues were elected to fellowship in the American Geophysical Union, an honor reserved for fewer than 0.1% of the membership. They embody "AGU's shared vision of a thriving, sustainable, and equitable future for all powered by discovery, innovation, and action. Equally important is that they conducted themselves with integrity, respect, diversity, and collaboration while creating deep engagement in education and outreach." Please join me in congratulating DEES Professor and department chair Jerry McManus and Special Research Scientist (and former LRP) Kim Kastens! When I was a grad student at LDEO from 1983 to 1989 Kim was one of only two female scientists working in the entire campus (that I was aware of and who weren't graduate students, a cohort that was ~50% women). I didn't know her but she definitely had that mythic unicorn quality about her. "How far we have come!" said the female director, "and how far we have yet to go to achieve full inclusiveness and equality."

    To that end, please help us in bringing opportunities such as the Lamont Postdoctoral Fellowship to a wide audience—the deadline is Nov. 5th.  While the candidates we successfully recruit to LDEO are some of the brightest and most promising stars in the fields of Earth and Climate Science, it is not true that you have to have published a Science or Nature paper to be competitive.  That is an urban myth.  Creativity, promise, ambition, hard work, and strong letters can be your secret sauce.  Finally, it bears repeating that the Lamont community values diversity and inclusion, and encourages applications from members of underrepresented minority groups.

    Also with a Nov. 5th deadline is the call for nominations for the Excellence in Scientific, and Technical/Administrative Mentoring and JEDI awards. “The Mentoring Awards recognize the importance of mentoring both for individuals and for our institution. In particular, the JEDI award, established last year, recognizes leadership in advancing DEIA including raising awareness, addressing DEIA within the Lamont Community, and advocating for minority/marginalized groups on campus.” Please send your nomination letters to Vicki Ferrini by November 5.

    Before leaving the issues of diversity and inclusion, I want to give a plug for next week’s Summer Stars Lecture with polar educator Geoff Green, founder and president of the Students on Ice Foundation. I was lucky enough to get to know Geoff on a few Arctic expeditions that brought dozens of youth between 16 and 22 on an immersive scientific, natural, and cultural voyage in the sub-Arctic seas between Nunavut and Greenland.  About a third to a half of the youth, and many of the trip leaders, artists, and elders, were from Innuit and First Nation communities.  Every now and again in one’s life you encounter a true and inspiring leader seemingly able to move mountains (and most certainly move the needle).  Geoff is one of those people.  He creates environments and experiences that encourage leadership, engagement, and ambition and which are truly transformative to those lucky enough to take part—especially the youth that then go out and change the world.  Indeed, “SOI inspires new perspectives, ideas, connections and collaborative solutions for a nature-positive world. The outcome is a global network that takes action and contributes to building healthy communities and a sustainable future for people and our planet.”  I’m so pleased Geoff agreed to come talk to us and if you are interested in DEIA, co-production, climate activism or just a masterclass in leadership, please tune in on October 5th at 4pm.  Register here by October 4.

    Today is a big day for the Lamont campus and the Climate School.  It is the first official day of operations for the Columbia Climate School’s Office of Research, with new Director Marley Bauce, formerly of the EVPR office.  We are still building out and anticipate many big announcements to come, but the important thing to know is that we are already helping investigators go after big grant opportunities.  Pre-award help is us!  Please be patient while we build out a website and more, but also keep an eye on the emails being forwarded from Andrew Miller, the office’s Associate Director of Grants Development.  For instance, the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Program for early career faculty provides funding up to $170k per year for three years. Proposals are accepted in a large number of research areas including Arctic and Global Prediction, Coastal Geosciences, Physical Oceanography, and Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning.  The program deadlines are 10/15/21 for technical or general pre-proposal inquiries with full proposals due 10/29/21.

    A belated congratulations to Athena Nghiem, who on Sept. 22nd successfully defended her PhD thesis on “Exploring the scales of environmental variability in redox processes and groundwater arsenic distribution through data-driven approaches”. Athena will be pursuing a Postdoctoral Fellowship at ETH Zurich.  Cassie Xu is excited to announce the 2021-22 Columbia Climate School, Earth Institute E-LIVE K12 Series, which brings educational content for K12 students, educators, and parents. For more details and a schedule of the program click here.  Finally, graduate students Arianna Varuolo-Clarke and Claire Jasper are happy to announce the return of TG at 4:30 PM after colloquium as of today.  To comply with Covid regulations TG will happen in Comer, on the 1st-floor deck.  TG is also seeking volunteers to run the weekly gathering; please contact Arianna and Claire if you are interested.

     With that, I’ll wrap up with the good news that COVID positivity rates on campus are dropping this week, with only 0.5% of tests returning positive.  Hopefully, that is a trend that will continue…forever!

    Have a peaceful weekend.   Best, Mo



Risk of Oil Spills May Rise as Climate Change Creates More Monster Storms 

ABC News 

September 29, 2021 

Quotes Lamont scientist Marco Tedesco.


Climate Change Is a ‘Freight Train’ Making Some Places Too Dangerous to Live   

USA Today

September 29, 2021 

Features Lamont scientist Klaus Jacob. (viewable by subscription only) 


How tropical storms and hurricanes have hit U.S. shores with unparalleled frequency 

The Washington Post

September 29, 2021 

Quotes Lamont scientists Suzana Camargo and Mingfang Ting. 


Two Indigenous-Led Studies in Alaska Hint at How Future Low-Ice Seasons Could Affect  Arctic Communities 

Arctic Today 

September 28, 2021 

Article on research co-led by Lamont scientist Chris Zappa. 


Blazing a Trail in Volcano Research 

Fox 5 TV

Septeber 24, 2021 

Profile of Lamont scientist Terry Plank. 


Northeast US one of the fastest warming areas: study 

The Hill 

September 24, 2021 

“Some of the biggest [population] centers in the U.S. are suffering the greatest degree of warming,” said Karmalkar, who conducted the study with Columbia University climate scientist, Radley Horton.  


U.S. Northeast Coast Faces Rapid Warming 

Guardian (UK) 

September 24, 2021 

Article on research coauthored by Lamont scientist Radley Horton. 



Why the U.S. Northeast Coast Is a Global Warming Hot Spot 

September 23, 2021 

A sharp rise in temperatures on land is linked to unusual heating of the Atlantic Ocean, and changes in wind patterns that send that warmth westward. 

    Hello Friends,  The back-to-school vibe is all around us, turbo-charged by the back-from-the-pandemic vibe.  As I walked around campus this week, I’ve had numerous conversations with folks and nearly all touch on some aspect of “I didn’t expect to feel so moved by coming back to work”.  Many of us didn’t appreciate how much we were missing our colleagues and extended human contact. 

    And this is not just the start of a new school year, this is the start of a year that promises to bring an almost unimaginable increase in funding sources at the federal level for climate and resiliency research.  For a soft-money institution like Lamont, this means attention must be given.  Nearly every federal agency that touches on Earth and climate science, resiliency, and environmental justice is expecting a huge budget increase.  The NSF budget alone could increase by an additional $30 billion!  Topics ranging from blue carbon research, to applications of artificial intelligence, to civilian climate corps, to coastal and ocean resiliency programs, to clean energy investments and carbon capture, to environmental health, to ecosystem health, to ocean charting and mapping are all seeing a huge bump in potentially available funding.  Investments in STEM training, underserved communities, and facilities are also being written into the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would could be signed into law as early as next week.  Following on that is the even larger Reconciliation Bill, in the trillions.  All of which is to say that in my forty-year career as a scientist I have never seen an emerging opportunity like this for Earth researchers.  If you have a dream, now is the time to make it a reality.   

    I don’t have to tell you our world is facing a crisis of almost unimaginable proportions.  Our research has never been more relevant or crucial to society.  This is a moment when we should all be thinking big about our science.  What could I do with a million dollars?  What could a highly skilled team do with $10M?  How can I marshal the full might of Columbia University and the new Climate School to achieve something at a scale that I might never have imagined before?  And, perhaps quite logically, what resources are there to help me go big?  As Director and Dean, I can answer the last question.  We are actively working to build out the pre-award admin support teams needed to get proposals written, through the system, and submitted—we know we are understaffed.  This includes a goal of bringing more help to the divisional level, the Observatory level, and the school level.  Indeed, we are in the process of building out a Climate School Office of Research which will be based both on the Lamont campus and downtown.  In the coming weeks we will continue to communicate the changes underway and the new resources being made available, along with regular Washington updates.  Please also remember we all have access to the EVPR Office which also facilitates the submission of large ambitious proposals like the LEAP STR proposal that just got funded.  But most importantly, if you have an idea and want some feedback, please come talk to me!   

    As we wrap up climate week, I was inspired by so many great events and talks. On Wednesday, the Columbia Climate School hosted “Plan 2030: Pathway to Decarbonize Columbia University's Campuses” moderated by Dan Zarrilli, Special Advisor for Climate and Sustainability, and panelists that included Jason Smerdon, Lamont Research Professor.  Along with an updated decarbonization plan, Columbia University pledged that all future Campus construction and renovations will be fossil-free.  I spent almost two hours today talking with Dan Zarrilli about the future of our campus (after he toured the Ida damage with CU’s Dave Greenberg, Executive Vice-President of Facilities, and Gerry Rosberg, Senior Executive Vice-President of the University).  It is my sincere hope that Lamont can become a proud centerpiece of Columbia’s ambitions to transition to a net-zero campus. 

    Two other tremendous Climate Week talks were “The Great Pivot: Climate Action and the Financial Sector” moderated by Alex Halliday and including Satyajit Bose, Professor of Practice, Columbia University, Michelle Dunstan, Chief Responsibility Officer, AllianceBernstein, and Radley Horton, Lamont Research Professor, and "Code Red: Vulnerability to Extreme Heat, Floods, and Displacement" with CIESIN researchers Alex de Sherbinin, Carolynne Hultquist, and Cascade Tuholske, and moderated by Bob Chen, CIESIN’s Director and Senior Research Scientist.  I’m reminded every day how central our research is to the full spectrum of societal issues including finance, health, security, and of course, climate justice. 

    I have some congratulations to pass on.  On Thursday, Bill Ryan, Special Research Scientist in the Marine Geology and Geophysics Division and mentor extraordinaire, was elected a Foreign Member of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, the world’s oldest (1603!) scientific society.  Amongst its earliest members was Galileo Galilei.  He will be honored at a ceremony on November 12 at the Academy headquarters in Rome (also known as the Corsini Palace).  Dig out the tux Bill, I think it is going to be fancy! 

    Congratulations also to Elise Myers who on Monday successfully defended her PhD thesis on “Improving Modeling and Monitoring of Waterborne Sewage Contamination: Particle Association and Water Transparency Impacts on Fecal Pollution Persistence”.  Elise will be working as a consultant in the Washington, D.C. office of the Boston Consulting Group, specializing in climate change, development, and public sector work with the long-term goal of working on water quality and human health issues. 

    Finally, congratulations to Gisela Winckler who was selected as a “Seeding Diversity Fellow” as part of an NSF-funded project led by Prof. Jason Chen at the University of William and Mary. “The program aims to embed DEI in the core values and practices in the Geosciences in general, and in academic departments and institutions in particular. This program is a customized learning experience to teach skills that can help effect change in organizations. The team at Lamont includes Vicki Ferrini and Jenny Middleton.” 

    I’ll share that a highlight of my week was hosting Jorge Otero-Pailos, Professor and Director of Historic Preservation, and Mark Rakatansky, Adjunct Associate Professor, and their graduate students from the Joint Architecture-Preservation Advanced Studio at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation on a tour of our campus.  Thank you to Billy D’Andrea and the group of Lamont graduate students who also helped facilitate the visit. Our campus is the focus of their semester project “Enacting Our Environmental Entanglements: Innovation/Renovation at the Columbia Climate School’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory”.  This studio usually focuses somewhere old and fabulous in the world (like the Corsini Palace?) but the pandemic brought them to us!  I’m really looking forward to seeing how this group reimagines a Lamont campus of the future. 

    I’ll wrap up by thanking Róisín Commane, Assistant Professor in DEES, for a terrific colloquium talk, “Combustion in cities: Not all plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will improve air quality”.  I am going to spend my weekend on two projects: investigating induction cooktops and perfecting the acronym generator that we are going to need with all the amazing and ambitious research projects I see in Lamont’s future.   

    Have a peaceful weekend.  Mo 



How an Ancient Irrigation Method Makes Sustainable Life Possible in the U.S. Southwest 


September 24, 2021


Research Shows How Climate Change Affects Global Agriculture 

EcoDebate (Brazil)

September 24, 2021 

Article on research by Lamont researcher Corey Lesk. 


Blazing a Trail in Volcano Research 


September 23, 2021 


Increased Heat-Drought Combinations Could Damage Crops  

Smart Water

September 22, 2021  

Article on study led by Lamont researcher Corey Lesk.  


Ida’s Torrential Flooding Highlights Calls for More MTA Climate Resiliency  

Columbia Daily Spectator

 September 21, 2021  

“I think [storm surge and torrential rainfall] have to be treated separately, [as] they affect different localities of the transportation system,” professor Klaus Jacob, who has been affiliated with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory for over 50 years and serves as a special research scientist, said. “And in the case of the subway system, it affects entirely different entrances and stations of the subway system, so they should be handled by the same department within the MTA, but they need to be considered separately in their nature to be effective.”  Jacob has many ideas for simple strategies that can mitigate the impact of rainfall.  “For instance on entrances, you don’t just go down into an entrance, you would first step up a couple of steps, [making] a mini levee system that surrounds this entrance,” Jacob said.  


At Columbia’s New Climate School, a Professor Talks Extreme Weather, Inequality, and (Not) Colonizing Mars  

West Side Rag

September 21, 2021  

Q&A with Climate School professor Jason Smerdon.  


What a Pension Provider Should Bring to Responsible Investing  

Global Banking and Finance 

September 21, 2021  

Cites AllianceBernstein project with Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.  


Crop Yields Drop as Heat-Drought Season Rises  

Nature World News

September 21, 2021  

Article on study led by Lamont researcher Corey Lesk.  


Warming Impact on Crops Exacerbated by Water  

Nature Food

September 2021  

Article on research led by Lamont researcher Corey Lesk.  


How Old Is This Old House?  

The New York Times

September 17, 2021  

Dendrochronology has been a critical tool in climate research for more than a century, allowing scientists to study long-term changes in weather by measuring the size of tree rings. At Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, dendrochronology has been used to study the impact of climate change on tropical trees in the Andes and evergreens in the Alaska tundra, among other things.  Over time, computer technology has vastly increased the amount of data that can be used to analyze ring patterns, making the process much more accurate, said Edward R. Cook, a research professor at the observatory. 



Lamont Open House at Home  

September 23, 2021  

Join us for fun, informative events and activities right from home!  


When Record-Breaking Is the Norm: Mitigating the Impacts of Extreme Rainfall Events in a Changing Climate  

September 21, 2021  

Rainfall extremes this year affected millions.  


Increased Heat-Drought Combinations Could Damage Crops Globally, Says Study  

September 20, 2021  

Staple crops may see magnified adverse effects when warming climate drives away soil moisture.  


Harnessing Drones, Geophysics and Artificial Intelligence to Root Out Land Mines  

September 20, 2021 

    Hello Friends, The week that the American Geophysical Union announces its annual prizes is always fun.  Who is there?  Any of my friends or colleagues?  Who are the early career stars we should invite to the colloquium?  And so on….  The Observatory is proud to have many honorees this year!  DEES Professor Ryan Abernathey is the recipient of the Charles S. Falkenberg Award which honors “an early to mid-career scientist who has contributed to the quality of life, economic opportunities, and stewardship of the planet through the use of Earth science information and to the public awareness of the importance of understanding our planet.”  Congratulations to Ryan who shared with us that “the award reflects a shift in my trajectory towards data, cyberinfrastructure. LDEO and DEES have been an ideal home from which to undertake this evolution.”  The announcement last week of the LEAP STC award to Ryan and colleagues is further testament to his innovative and ground-breaking research directions in data science merging with climate science.

    AGU also announced that Peter Kelemen of DEES is the recipient of The Harry H. Hess Medal, which is “given annually to a senior scientist in recognition of outstanding achievements in research on the constitution and evolution of the Earth and other planets”.  Peter shares that “I’m super happy about this, thrilled to be associated with Harry Hess and with previous recipients such as Alex Halliday!”.  Lamont Assistant Research Professor Chia-Ying Lee received the 2021 Natural Hazards Early Career Award and Jordan Abell, who defended his PhD thesis this past July, is the recipient of the Harry Elderfield Student Paper Award by AGU.  Finally, DEES Professor Bärbel Hönisch has been named this year’s Cesare Emiliani Lecturer.  Not a bad showing Lamont!  Congrats to all!

    In other news, Lamont Associate Research Professor Indrani Das has been appointed as a member of NASA’s Earth Science Advisory Committee and Research Scientist Angela Slagle was featured in PBS Nova “Can Turning CO2 to Stone Help Save the Planet? Out of Our Elements.”  And today, Senior Research Scientist Vicki Ferrini “participated in a panel discussion with John F. Kerry, Jane Lubchenco, and other experts on how an ambitious initiative to map US waters and advance ocean-based climate solutions ties into international projects like Nippon-GEBCO", which Vicki helps lead.

    Hopefully everyone is also looking ahead to Climate Week starting next Monday.  The Columbia Climate School is partnering with The Climate Group to help sponsor and participate in this event.  Running from September 20-26, Climate Week NYC will convene climate leaders and activists to discuss the climate crisis in the weeks leading up to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference, or COP26, later this fall in Glasgow.  You can find a full schedule of events here including many that include LDEO, CIESIN, and IRI scientists.

    Today our colloquium series kicks off with a lecture on “The interactions between ice sheets, sea level and solid Earth in Antarctica”, with Nataly