Director's Reports - 2020-2008

Present-2021 | 2020-2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003

Lamont Weekly Report, December 18, 2020

Hello Friends,  I hope all are enjoying the winter wonderland we now have, and possibly even the beautiful pink sunrise this morning.  A huge thanks to the B&G crew for snow removal and for working through the night Wednesday to clear the campus.  We have lots of interesting research news, as well as accomplishments, to celebrate this week, but it is important that I—we—step back for a moment and look at the big picture.  We have been fortunate to be in, physically or virtually, our Lamont campus bubble for many months now. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, December 11, 2020

Hello Friends, Welcome to another Friday, COVID-19 Edition.  We are all deep into the American Geophysical Union more-than-two-weeks-long meeting now.  Globally time-zone friendly, it runs from early in the morning to late at night and if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all, you are not alone. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, December 4, 2020

Hello Friends, I am prefacing this week’s newsletter with an acknowledgment of the unfathomable suffering happening in our nation this week, as record-setting numbers of citizens are succumbing to COVID.  Indeed, it is hard not to become numb to the scale of the daily deaths.  Please reach out if you need help, or even an ear…to CU resources, to Lamont colleagues, or the Directorate directly. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, November 20, 2020

Hello Friends, I’m sorry I have to start with the gloomy stuff—the pandemic is worsening in the region and we must continue to be vigilant, in the labs and especially in the café and other common spaces.  We’ve all seen how things can go south quickly.  The NYC schools have closed down again making life even harder for those with children.  Please go here to find many university resources for parents, including daycare.  Hopefully we can bend the curve down quickly. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, November 13, 2020

Hello Friends, Happy Friday the 13th.  It’s a gloomy day and the news about Covid-19 around the nation is gloomier still.  Please all be attuned to the rapidly evolving guidance on inter-state travel and meet-ups as Thanksgiving approaches.  Positivity rates are going up all around us and Columbia has transitioned from green to yellow alert levels.  Early next week the University will be sponsoring two forums for faculty, researchers, and staff addressing the latest information about public health and university planning. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, November 6, 2020

Hello Friends,  I hope everyone is enjoying this lovely late warm weather.  I’ve made it onto campus a few times this week, with the highlight being the morning a fox walked right by my office, behind Monell.  I also enjoyed multiple walks with colleagues around campus this week.  It seems like more people are coming to campus more often—if this is you, please feel free to request placement on the Group A List if you are not already there.  But given the observations across the nation, this is no time to relax our guard with COVID. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, October 30, 2020

Hello Friends,  And welcome to the end of another busy, rainy week as the dregs of Hurricane Zeta pass through the region.  Reports of snow from the north, but here on the Palisades Sill it is just rain.  At the start of the week I was happy to join Alex Halliday and SEAS Professor George Deodatis for a live, and lively, panel discussion: “Under Water: Coastal Fragility and Our Rising Seas”.

Lamont Weekly Report, October 23, 2020

Hello Friends,   What a fun week it has been!   Yesterday we wrapped up Lamont’s very first virtual Open House— “At Home” Edition—and it was nothing short of remarkable. While I’m sure many of us missed the excitement of our traditional in-person event, I was so impressed to see the range of offerings our Open House organizers put together. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, October 16, 2020

Hello Friends,  It seems like it has been a quiet week despite many Zoom meetings.  The other day I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation of how many Zoom meetings I’ve been in since the pandemic shut-down began and the number was over 1000.  I’m thinking of all the exercise I missed not walking to all those meetings around campus.  My step-counter is crying a river and my scale is letting out an evil chuckle. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, October 9, 2020

Hello Friends,  I hope everyone is enjoying the cool fall weather and increasingly colorful woodlands.  It has been another busy week at Lamont.  Thank you to everyone that tuned into the Town Hall and especially to Alex, Art, and Pat for updating us all on the Climate School, Covid-19, and our campus, respectively. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, October 2, 2020

Hello Friends,  Wednesday marked the end of my third month on the job as LDEO Interim Director and I would like to reflect on what these three months have meant to me and what we have accomplished together.  It was an incredible honor and privilege to be asked to lead this world-leading research institution.  Especially during such an unbelievably stressful time, with siblings, close family friends and acquaintances who were affected by the virus, I reflect daily on how grateful I am for my health and for my job. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, September 25, 2020

Hello Friends,  How has your Climate Week NYC been going?  Given that for many of us every week is climate week, maybe you didn’t pay much attention to this event.  But it is pretty amazing and inspiring when you scroll through all the events and lectures devoted to imagining a pathway toward a decarbonized <2°C warmer world.  It gives me hope to see people from so many different fields envisioning a better way forward. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, September 18, 2020

Hello Friends,  Welcome to the end of another busy week of science – shwew!  Though it had no Lamont connection, the biggest science story of the week by far, was the discovery of possible life on Venus!  Not little green women, but atmospheric phosphine molecules (like those in our gut) that suggest the possibility of anaerobic microbes living in the cloud decks above the surface of Venus. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, September 11, 2020

Hello Friends,  This will be a short newsletter for a short week.  It is also the week we welcome our new cohort of graduate students to Lamont!  Of course, we usually have a lovely picnic behind Lamont Hall, but this year we will have a “Zoom picnic” instead.  Pass the ketchup! Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, September 4, 2020

Hello Friends,  It is always bittersweet to end the last real week of an academic’s summer—a regret tempered by the excitement of the new school year ramping up. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, August 28, 2020

Hello Friends,  Lots of great stuff has happened this week, not the least of which was that the R/V Marcus Langseth set sail out of Newport Beach, Oregon after a complicated, but ultimately successful quarantine. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, August 21, 2020

Hello Friends,  I’ll start this week with a big shout-out to Marco Tedesco whose new book “The Hidden Life of Ice: Dispatches from a Disappearing World” was published this week. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, August 14, 2020

Hello Friends,  Black Lives Matter.  If you click on those words you will be taken to Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory’s statement on our commitment to anti-racism and institutional change.  As we strive to create a progressive, anti-racist, inclusive community at Lamont, we must each uphold the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our daily practices. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, August 7, 2020

Hello Friends,  Unfortunately, this has been another extremely challenging week on the Lamont Campus. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, July 31, 2020

Hello Friends,  As I start writing this (on Thursday) of course there is only one thing I really need to say:  HAPPY 100TH BIRTHDAY MARIE THARP!!!!  What a special moment to reflect upon this early pioneer in oceanography, someone who not only helped put the Earth on the map, but also helped put Lamont on the map.  There has been so much great content about Marie this week, from twitter posts, to interviews, to photographs, to podcasts, to videos — she has clearly become a hero to many, and rightly so. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, July 24, 2020

Hello Friends,  It has been a busy week as I continue to meet with Lamont groups and work with the great team in the Directorate to launch new initiatives, act on community recommendations, and generally try to come up to speed on the byzantine infrastructure of LDEO (and I’m not referring to our “aqueducts” although, yes, yesterday there was another severe electrical disruption that blew fuses on the main  pump supplying water to our campus as well as impacting other parts of Lamont. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, July 17, 2020

Hello Friends,  As we migrate into the heart of summer, Lamont continues to slowly reopen.  Hopefully everyone is comfortable with the new procedures and protocols being put in place, all designed to keep us safe and healthy. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, July 10, 2020

Hello Friends,  Yesterday I toured the Lamont campus computer centers in Monell and Geoscience with Mahdad Parsi, Pat O’Reilly, and Jeff Turmelle of IRI.  Walking from Monell to Geoscience we crossed paths with a doe and her two frolicking fawns running happily in circles—classic Lamont.  I wish I could enthusiastically report good news about the computer centers but the supporting infrastructure is in bad shape—aging and failing air conditioning units in particular pose a significant infrastructure and budgetary challenge. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, July 2, 2020

Hello Friends,  What a great week!  It has been a true pleasure to step into the role of Interim Director of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and spend even more of my normal workday interacting with all the talented professionals and students on our campus.  Thank you for all the welcoming messages of support as well. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, June 26, 2020

When I arrived at Lamont eight years ago, the tradition of a Director’s Weekly Report, posted to our web site and distributed by e-mail, was several years old and seemed worth preserving. More than 400 reports later, I am glad that I kept up the tradition. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, June 19, 2020

Today is a university holiday, to celebrate the freeing of the last group of slaves in the Confederate States 155 years ago. Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, in announcing the holiday on Wednesday evening, acknowledged that “[our institution] is not innocent of the structures of racism that have afflicted America. Yet we also have a history of confronting invidious discrimination and anti-Black racism…, and we need to summon our better traditions as we recognize Juneteenth and commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States.” Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, June 12, 2020

On Wednesday, the Lamont campus closed for the day so that our scientists, students, and staff could support our Black colleagues and oppose systemic racism – in the sciences and American society more broadly. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, June 5, 2020

Prompted by the widespread protests this week over the killing last week of George Floyd, for Wednesday’s issue of Climate Fwd: – the climate-focused newsletter of The New York Times – writer Somini Sengupta interviewed three prominent black climate activists about the connections between racism and climate change: Sam Grant at, Robert Bullard at Texas Southern University, and Heather McGhee at Demos. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, May 29, 2020

Earlier this month, Lamont and Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences alumnus Leon Thomsen learned that he had been awarded the 2020 Maurice Ewing Medal by the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG). Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, May 22, 2020

It was a week of very mixed emotions. The Lamont community was deeply saddened by the news that Rhonda Martinson passed away on Tuesday. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, Rhonda worked as an Office Assistant in the Lamont Core Lab from 1979 to 1982. Most now at the Observatory knew Rhonda primarily in her 48-year-long role as the spouse and life partner of Doug Martinson, who retired from his Lamont Research Professor position at the end of January this year. Our thoughts and support go out to Doug and all of Rhonda’s friends and family members. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, May 15, 2020

This is an unusual Final Examinations week at Columbia, the capstone to what Lee Bollinger described in a community e-mail yesterday as “one of the most difficult and perplexing semesters in memory.” A large fraction of Columbia personnel spent the week developing plans to reopen university campuses, in a carefully phased manner and at a pace that will be set by criteria to maximize the safety of those returning to the workplace. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, May 8, 2020

For all of us who have been sheltering in place since late March, we should have spent more time outside. The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service reported this week that last month was tied for the warmest April on record. Two weeks earlier, NOAA had announced that there is a 75% chance that 2020 will be the warmest year since 1880, when instrument records began. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, May 1, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic and the directives to shelter in place have had very different effects on different segments of our community. Of course, those who have experienced COVID-19 symptoms or whose immediate family members have done so have understandably focused on testing, treatment, and recovery. Health-care providers who have selflessly devoted their time and attention to those most severely ill have earned our sustained gratitude, and the families of health-care workers are no less in our debt for the continuing support they provide. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, April 24, 2020

The greater Lamont community was saddened to learn of the death last week of geologist and former Lamont postdoctoral scientist Maarten de Wit, at the age of 73. Born in the Netherlands, Maarten obtained his Ph.D. in 1972 from the University of Cambridge. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, April 17, 2020

Results from this year’s National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship competition have been a topic in this report series for each of the last two weeks. This week, one more applicant to next year’s class of graduate students in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences who received one of NSF’s fellowships announced that she has accepted the department’s offer of admission. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, April 10, 2020

The Lamont community was saddened this week by the news that Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences alumna Patience Cowie passed away on Tuesday. An expert in fault mechanics and a Professor of Earth System Dynamics at the University of Bergen, Patience obtained M.Sc. (1988), M.Phil. (1989), and Ph.D. (1992) degrees from Columbia, where she worked under the supervision of Chris Scholz. Prior to moving to the University of Bergen, she held a series of positions at the University of Edinburgh from 1993 to 2011. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, April 3, 2020

This was the third week of remote work for most of us on the Lamont campus. It is beginning to feel normal to see and hear our colleagues only on laptops, to have no access to our laboratories and offices, and to wonder when fieldwork and in-person conferences and workshops will once again be possible. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, March 27, 2020

This has been the first week of New York state’s Policies Assure Uniform Assurance for Everyone (PAUSE) order, and also the first full week during which nearly all of us on the Lamont campus have worked remotely from homes or other off-site locations. Most of us are becoming increasingly familiar with Zoom and other group communication software, and we wrestle with the challenges of conducting research and educational activities with strong new constraints on interpersonal interactions. Notwithstanding these challenges, some progress continued. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, March 20, 2020

This week has been a time of extraordinary disruption and uncertainty. The coronavirus pandemic has dominated the news and the actions of governments at national, state, and city levels around the world. At Columbia, all classes are now being taught online, most personnel are working remotely, and domestic and international travel on university business has been suspended. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, March 13, 2020

This week has been dominated by news of the coronavirus outbreak and its consequences for the global population, international travel, public health and healthcare systems, and our region and university. As of Wednesday, Columbia University classes are now all being taught online. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, March 6, 2020

Christine Chesley has been twice honored for a talk that she gave at the 2019 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting last December. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, February 28, 2020

This week was bookended by new results from solar system spacecraft missions. Nature Geoscience on Monday published the first observations from NASA’s InSight mission to Mars, including confirmation of the occurrence of marsquakes. Today’s issue of Science includes the first in-depth papers from the New Horizons flyby of classical Kuiper-belt object (486958) Arrokoth, a small, peanut-shaped body largely undisturbed since solar system formation. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, February 21, 2020

The U.S. Presidential race continued to provide a backdrop to our scientific activities this week, as the Democratic candidate debate on Wednesday evening provided the longest exchange so far in the campaign on the need for major action on climate change. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, February 14, 2020

This week the Geochemical Society and the European Association of Geochemistry announced the good news that Sidney Hemming has been elected a 2020 Geochemistry Fellow. The honor is reserved for “outstanding scientists who have, over some years, made a major contribution to the field of geochemistry.” Geochemistry Fellows at Lamont elected in earlier years include Bob Anderson, Steve Goldstein, Alex Halliday, Peter Kelemen, Terry Plank, and Dave Walker. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, February 7, 2020

The first votes in the U.S. Presidential election process were cast this week at the Iowa caucuses. A story in The Verge on Wednesday reports that, according to a recent survey by Yale and George Mason universities, climate change was named as the fifth most important issue that registered voters considered when voting for a candidate, and as the top issue for liberal Democrats. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, January 31, 2020

The extended Lamont community was deeply saddened to learn that alumnus and former faculty member Frank Press passed away on Wednesday at the age of 95. One of Maurice Ewing’s first students, Frank obtained his Ph.D. in 1949. Along with Joe Worzel, Frank helped move Ewing’s research group to Lamont that year, and he remained at Columbia for another six years, as Instructor, Assistant Professor, and Associate Professor. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, January 24, 2020

Notwithstanding the holiday on Monday (or a Presidential impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate), the spring semester officially began this week with the start of Columbia University classes on Tuesday. Scientific progress at Lamont continued at an uninterrupted pace. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, January 17, 2020

Our planet was much in the news this week, from the continuing wildfires in Australia to earthquakes in Puerto Rico and Sunday’s eruption of Taal Volcano in the Philippines. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, January 10, 2020

The past calendar year, we learned this week from Copernicus Climate Change Service, was the second hottest on record (exceeded by less than 0.1°F by 2016, an El Niño year). Moreover, July last year was the hottest month to date. Read more

Lamont Weekly Report, January 3, 2020

This week rang in the new year and, some would argue, a new decade. With a three-day workweek having two university holidays in the middle, the campus tempo was more subdued than usual, but between this week and last there were noteworthy signs of progress. Read more


Lamont Weekly Report, December 20, 2019

This week has been an unusually hectic one, sandwiched between the American Geophysical Union Fall meeting last week and next week’s university holidays. This week also marked Final Examinations in Columbia University classes, record-breaking high temperatures across Australia, and even more than the usual political drama in our nation’s capital

Lamont Weekly Report, December 13, 2019

This week, many from Lamont have been in San Francisco for the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union. It has been a week full of new scientific findings, meetings with professional friends and scientific colleagues, and hundreds of side meetings called to advance some aspect of one or more of the subfields of Earth and space science. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 6, 2019

The Lamont community was deeply saddened this week by the passing on Tuesday of geochemist and long-time Observatory staff member Taro Takahashi. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 27, 2019

This workweek has been shortened by the Thanksgiving holiday, and this weekly report is also briefer than usual. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 22, 2019

The U.S. Congress avoided a federal government shutdown this week, but only by a few hours. Yesterday afternoon the Senate passed a continuing resolution, passed two days earlier by the House, that will continue to fund federal agencies through Friday, December 20. The President signed the bill before last night’s midnight deadline. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 15, 2019

This week was notable for the unseasonably cold temperatures that broke record lows for the date in New York City and hundreds of other locations across much of the country. Notwithstanding this foreshadowing of winter, scientific progress at the Observatory continued. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 8, 2019

A noteworthy solar system event will occur next Monday: a solar transit by Mercury. Although Mercury’s close approaches to Earth, known as inferior conjunctions, occur often (approximately once every 116 days), Mercury passes across the disc of the Sun as viewed from Earth much more rarely, because of the 7° inclination of Mercury’s orbit to the ecliptic, Earth’s orbital plane. The transit on Monday will be the fourth of only 14 Mercury transits this century. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 1, 2019

This week kicked off on Saturday with the final day of the special symposium to celebrate the life and scientific legacy of Wally Broecker. The symposium provided a wonderful two days to remember an extraordinarily impactful colleague, with the formal talks, open-microphone sessions, group dinner, and informal discussions over coffee and lunch all contributing to a heightened awareness on the part of all participants of the unprecedented influence that Wally had on all who worked or interacted with him. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 25, 2019

I am saddened to report that physical oceanographer and former Lamont staff member Eli Katz passed away on Thursday last week, at the age of 83. Eli worked at Lamont from 1979 to 1997, initially as a Senior Research Associate and after 1983 as a Senior Research Scientist. He received a Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University in 1962, and he worked at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for 10 years before moving to Lamont. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 18, 2019

Yesterday marked the 30-year anniversary of the Loma Prieta, California, earthquake, a magnitude-6.9 event well known not only to seismologists – because of its unusual source characteristics, widespread damage, and 63 fatalities – but also to major league baseball fans, because it resulted in the postponement of the third and fourth games in the 1989 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 11, 2019

This week began with Lamont Open House. The total attendance was 3627, a figure higher than last year or two years before that, but lower than the all-time record of 3891 set in 2017. The official head count was certified by Howie Matza, who logged 350 individuals arriving by automobile to the campus, 658 attendees delivered by bus from the city, 2592 riders on the shuttles from the HNA parking lot, and 27 who came on other buses. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 4, 2019

The Lamont campus was deeply saddened this week by the news that alumnus and long-time staff member Walter Pitman passed away on Tuesday, a few weeks ahead of what would have been his 88th birthday. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 27, 2019

Last Friday’s Climate Strike N.Y.C. ( drew many participants from Lamont. A Kevin Krajick story Friday ( included photos taken during the march of Daniel Babin, Laura Haynes, Corey Lesk, Kai Morsink, and Adam Sobel, among others. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 20, 2019

Next week will be Climate Week NYC (, timed to include Climate Action Summit 2019 at the United Nations next Monday ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 13, 2019

This was a week in which the Earth remained much in the news. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 6, 2019

This week began with hurricane Dorian striking the northwestern Bahamas as an historically devastating storm, Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale. After an extraordinarily lengthy pause, Dorian’s path turned northward to follow the U.S. southeastern coast. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 30, 2019

The last week before Labor Day and the start of fall classes is a traditional week for vacations at Columbia – indeed the entire university administration is rumored to be away – and I have followed this tradition. Nonetheless, the pace of science is not slowed markedly by the summer getaways of scientists (or administrators), as the following news attests. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 23, 2019

Yesterday, the American Geophysical Union announced, in an Eos article by Robin Bell, the good news that two more Lamont scientists are to be honored at this year’s Fall Meeting in December ( Maureen Raymo will receive the 2019 Maurice Ewing Medal, jointly awarded once per year by AGU and the U.S. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 16, 2019

Yesterday, the American Geophysical Union announced the good news that Rosanne D’Arrigo and Lorenzo Polvani have been named 2019 AGU Fellows ( In Robin Bell’s Eos article introducing the 2019 class of Fellows, she wrote, “AGU Fellows are recognized for their scientific eminence in the Earth and space sciences. Their breadth of interests and the scope of their contributions are remarkable and often groundbreaking. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 9, 2019

This week began for me in Woods Hole, where I attended a meeting of the Council of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. As the governing body of the academy, the Council is responsible for stewarding NAS finances and other assets, guiding policies on membership, developing academy positions on scientific issues, and overseeing NAS programs. The Council is also currently completing the first NAS strategic plan and developing procedures for responding to any alleged violations of the academy’s newly adopted Code of Conduct. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 2, 2019

I am pleased to report that Arnold Gordon is to receive the 2020 Henry Stommel Research Medal from the American Meteorological Society. According to AMS, the medal is given “in recognition of outstanding contributions to the advancement of the understanding of the dynamics and physics of the ocean. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 26, 2019

I am pleased to report that Adam Sobel and Mingfang Ting have been elected Fellows of the American Meteorological Society. According to AMS, Fellows “shall have made outstanding contributions to the atmospheric or related oceanic or hydrologic sciences or their applications during a substantial period of years,” and no more than “two-tenths of 1 percent of all AMS members” may be elected Fellow in a given year. Congratulations, Adam and Mingfang! 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 19, 2019

Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, when mankind first set foot on another planetary body. The milestone – arguably as important for understanding the Moon and its lessons for the early history of our solar system as was the contemporary plate tectonics revolution for understanding our own planet – has been much in the news this month. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 12, 2019

The Earth has been much in the news during the first half of this summer season. Heat waves in India ( and Europe ( set new daily and monthly temperature records. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 3, 2019

The Lamont Weekly Report is on vacation this week, as am I. May you all have an enjoyable Independence Day tomorrow. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 28, 2019

I am pleased to report that, as a result of successfully completing their promotion reviews this spring, Michael Kaplan and Donna Shillington will be promoted to full Lamont Research Professor, effective next week. Please join me in congratulating Mike and Donna on their new rank! 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 21, 2019

The Lamont community was saddened to learn this week that mineral physicist and former Lamont scientist Orson Anderson passed away Wednesday in Salt Lake City at the age of 94. Orson’s leadership of the mineral physics group at Lamont was recently chronicled by Lamont alumnus Bob Liebermann ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 14, 2019

I am pleased to report that, as a result of successfully completing their Developmental Reviews this spring, Christine McCarthy and Nicolás Young will be promoted to Lamont Associate Research Professor, Junior Staff, effective July. Please join me in congratulating Christine and Nicolás on their new rank! 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 7, 2019

For most of this week I was in South Hadley, Massachusetts, at a Gordon Research Conference on the Interior of the Earth. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 31, 2019

This week began with a New York Times story that the U.S. Geological Survey Director, as part of the Trump administration’s aggressive and sustained policy of climate change denial, announced that USGS would use climate model projections only through the year 2040 rather than longer-range forecasts ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 24, 2019

This week featured Commencement at Columbia. To all who received degrees, congratulations on your latest professional milestone! Even as blue robes filled the Morningside Campus, several different types of milestones were met on the Lamont Campus. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 17, 2019

The last phases of the academic year seemed to accelerate into view this week, with final examinations ending today and an explosion of tents, grandstands, and fences on the Morningside Campus indicating that Commencement will be held next week. The week also brought multiple welcome milestones to staff and students at Lamont. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 10, 2019

Signs this week that the academic year is drawing to a close at American universities included the last day of classes at Columbia on Monday, the start of Columbia’s final exam period today, and the fact that I have been off campus all week to attend the college graduation of a grandson yesterday. Because of that last milestone, this Weekly Report is shorter than its usual length. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 3, 2019

A highlight of the week was the announcement Tuesday morning that Göran Ekström had been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences. A Marie Aronsohn story on Göran, his work, and his election is posted on our web site (öran-ekström-elected-national-academy-sciences). 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 26, 2019

Monday was Earth Day (, and for the occasion Marie Aronsohn prepared and narrated a video vignette ( If, like me, you think that she did a wonderful job evoking Lamont’s scientific mission, please let her know! 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 19, 2019

This was a week that will be remembered primarily for events unrelated to Earth science, from the horrific fire Monday night at the Notre Dame cathedral to yesterday’s release of the Mueller report. The Earth nonetheless featured in a New York Times story Wednesday on the views of all 18 declared Democratic candidates for President on how best to address climate change ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 12, 2019

The Lamont community was saddened this week to learn of the death Sunday of geologist Neil Opdyke ( Neil obtained his undergraduate degree in geology in 1955 at Columbia, where he was captain of the university’s football team. After obtaining his Ph.D. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 5, 2019

This past weekend I was in Washington, D.C., and the cherry trees lining the Tidal Basin were at peak bloom. It felt as though spring was well underway. Notwithstanding spring’s later arrival date on the Lamont Campus, there have been scientific milestones aplenty at this time of year. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 29, 2019

The first full week of northern hemisphere spring brought multiple milestones. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 22, 2019

This week has been Spring Recess at Columbia. There have been no classes, and there is no Earth Science Colloquium this afternoon. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 15, 2019

For another week, the fourth in a row, the extended Lamont family lost one its members. Herman Galberd, Manager of Administrative Services at Lamont from 1979 until his retirement in 1994, passed away on Sunday. Herman joined Columbia University’s Electronics Research Lab in 1956, and from 1962 to 1979 he was Director of Research Services in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, so he worked for Columbia for a total of 38 years. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 8, 2019

For the third week in a row, the Lamont community was saddened by the loss of a long-term member. Paleoclimatologist Andrew McIntyre passed away on Saturday. Andy was a double alumnus of Columbia University, with a B.S. in 1954 and a Ph.D. in 1967. His first position at Columbia after college, in 1959, was as an Assistant in Sedimentation and Invertebrate Paleoecology, Biostratigraphy and Geomorphology. After several instructor posts, he held the position of Research Scientist at Lamont until he completed his doctorate. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 1, 2019

This week brought more sad news regarding two long-term members of the Lamont extended community. Seismologist Paul Pomeroy, a Lamont alumnus and former Observatory staff member, passed away on Sunday. Paul obtained his Ph.D. here in 1963, and he continued working at Lamont as a Research Associate and Senior Research Associate until moving to the University of Michigan in 1968. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 22, 2019

Wally Broecker, one of the leading intellectual engines of scientific innovation at Lamont for 67 of the institution’s 70 years, passed away on Monday. His loss is keenly felt by his family and his friends and colleagues across the campus, the university, and the global scientific community. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 15, 2019

Monday was the fourth annual International Day of Women and Girls in Science (, and a slide show on Lamont’s Women in Science, prepared by Kuheli Dutt and first shown at last fall’s Open House, was posted to mark the occasion ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 8, 2019

NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies announced this week that 2018 was the fourth-warmest year on record ( As measured by Earth’s average surface temperature, 18 of the 19 warmest years have occurred since 2001, and the last five years have been the five warmest. Last year was more than 1°C warmer than the average temperature of the pre-industrial era. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 1, 2019

The American Academy of Microbiology announced this week that Sonya Dyhrman has been elected a 2019 Fellow. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 25, 2019

This week included the first classes for the spring semester, a celebration of the life of Martin Luther King Jr. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 18, 2019

The partial shutdown of the federal government –­ including most federal science agencies – will be four weeks old tomorrow ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 11, 2019

As this week draws to a close, the partial shutdown of the federal government –­ including most federal science agencies – is three weeks old, and by tomorrow the shutdown will become the longest in U.S. history ( When the political impasse preventing the reopening of shuttered departments and agencies will be resolved is anyone’s guess. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 4, 2019

For this first week of the year, the news has been a mix of good and bad. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 28, 2018

It has been a workweek shortened by national and university holidays, and a week during which the federal government was partially shut down, the third federal shutdown this calendar year ( This latest shutdown began at the end of last Friday and affects nine government departments and a number of independent federal agencies, including NASA and NSF. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 21, 2018

The Lamont Campus was saddened this week by the passing this Saturday of Benno Blumenthal, Lead Systems Analyst at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI). Benno joined Mark Cane’s group at Lamont in 1987 after obtaining his Ph.D. in physical oceanography that same year from the MIT–Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program, under the supervision of Charlie Eriksen. Benno held postdoctoral and Associate Research Scientist positions at Lamont until 1995, when he transferred to a Senior Staff Associate position. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 14, 2018

This week, many from Lamont have been in Washington, D.C., for the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union. It has been a week full of new scientific findings, meetings with professional friends and scientific colleagues, and hundreds of side meetings called to advance some aspect of one or more of the subfields of Earth and space science. With more than 28,000 attendees, the meeting set records for number of participants and number of papers presented. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 7, 2018

This week began with the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that hit near Anchorage, Alaska, last Friday. The U.S. Geological Survey characterized this normal-faulting event as intraslab, i.e., within the subducting Pacific plate. At 44 km depth, the earthquake produced ground motion that was widely felt across the state and left widespread damage to buildings, roads, and other components of the built infrastructure ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 30, 2018

From Paul Richards, Lynn Sykes, and John Armbruster, I learned the sad news this week that Lamont and DEES alumnus Jack Boatwright passed away on September 20, in the company of his wife, Tia, and his children, Phoebe and Charlie. A seismologist who specialized in seismic source theory, Jack received his Ph.D. here in 1980, under the supervision of Paul Richards. He joined the U.S. Geological Survey’s Branch of Ground Motion and Faulting in Menlo Park that same year, and he remained with the Survey for 38 years. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 21, 2018

This workweek has been shortened 40% by the Thanksgiving holiday, and this weekly report is also briefer than usual. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 16, 2018

The first snowstorm of the season from yesterday afternoon through this morning was made more memorable for many by traffic accidents on the George Washington Bridge that delayed traffic – including the Lamont shuttle – for hours ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 9, 2018

This week began for me at the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America. On Sunday morning, I co-convened (along with the University of Oxford’s John Dewey, MIT’s Wiki Royden, and Celâl Şengör from Istanbul Technical University) and co-chaired a special session held in honor of the late Kevin Burke. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 2, 2018

The extended Lamont community was saddened to learn this week of the passing of former Lamont seismologist Keith McCamy on October 13. Keith first joined Lamont as a Research Associate in 1966, following Ph.D. work at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, under Bob Meyer. Keith left Lamont in 1968 for a research position at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center, but he returned for the period from 1970 to 1977. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 26, 2018

The Earth and other rocky planets were in the news this week. On Friday night, the European Space Agency launched the dual BepiColombo spacecraft to Mercury, on a trajectory that will involve nine planetary flybys over seven years before the two probes are captured by Mercury’s gravitational field ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 19, 2018

This week began with Open House on Saturday. The total attendance was 3452, a good showing given that morning rain darkened the skies and turned the fields soft with mud. The official head count was certified by Howie Matza, who logged 425 individuals arriving by automobile to the campus, 665 attendees delivered by bus from the city, 2324 riders on the shuttles from the HNA parking lot, and 38 who came on other buses. This year’s attendance was down from last year’s record of 3891. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 12, 2018

Four weeks after the widespread flooding from Hurricane Florence, a broad swath of the southeastern U.S. was hammered by Hurricane Michael, which made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane along the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday, passed through half a dozen states, and headed out to sea earlier today ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 5, 2018

This week was launched last Friday by the magnitude 7.5 earthquake and tsunami off Sulawesi, Indonesia, that tragically took more than 1,500 lives. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 28, 2018

This week has been Climate Week in New York City (, and a Sarah Fecht story posted to our web site on Tuesday describes six options for decreasing one’s personal carbon footprint ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 21, 2018

The flooding across the Carolinas caused by the extraordinary rainfall during Hurricane Florence continued this week long after the storm dissipated and moved north, as swollen rivers crested to different degrees and at different times. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 14, 2018

Today’s landfall of Hurricane Florence, as well as the unusually large number of concurrent tropical cyclones (, provides us with a timely reminder of the importance of Lamont’s work on severe storms and other forms of extreme weather and climate in a world undergoing climate change. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 7, 2018

For the second week in a row, the Observatory was saddened by the loss of a member of the extended Lamont family. Erik Hauri, a Visiting Senior Research Scientist in Lamont’s Geochemistry Division hosted by Terry Plank during the fall semesters of 2016 and 2017, passed away after a long battle with cancer ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 31, 2018

Lamont was saddened to learn this week that petrologist and long-time Lamont staff member John Longhi passed away last week. John earned his Ph.D. in 1976 from Harvard University, where he worked in the lab of Jim Hays, along with fellow students Dave Walker, Ed Stolper, Tim Grove, and others on melting relations in basaltic systems and lunar basalts in particular. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 24, 2018

This week has served as the approximate midpoint of a gradual transition from summer to fall schedules, marked most visibly by the demographics of the students on campus. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 17, 2018

There’s a George Harrison song with the lyrics, “Here comes the Sun, and I say it’s all right.” This week the Sun featured in two important news items. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 10, 2018

The week has been a difficult one for those faced with natural hazards. A magnitude 6.9 earthquake ( hit Indonesia Sunday near the island of Lombok, in an area that had experienced a magnitude 6.4 quake only one week earlier, and destroyed more than 40,000 structures, killed more than 160, and displaced more than 150,000 residents. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 3, 2018

On Monday, the American Geophysical Union – via an article in Eos written by AGU President-elect Robin Bell ( – announced the 2018 Section awardees. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 27, 2018

    The Director’s Weekly Reports, although typically circulated before midday every Friday, are often written the day before, particularly in weeks with multiple Friday morning meetings. On such a schedule, important milestones late in the week are often not mentioned until a week later. This week provides several examples of such a pattern. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 20, 2018

Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game marks the approximate midpoint of academic summer, and Tuesday night’s game with its record number of home runs was no exception. But at least we still have nearly half of summer left before classes begin once again in the fall. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 13, 2018

The Ocean and Climate Physics Division recently welcomed new Lamont Postdoctoral Fellow Spencer Jones. A physical oceanographer, Spencer holds an undergraduate degree from Oxford University and recently completed his Ph.D. at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, under the supervision of Paola Cessi. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 6, 2018

This week set high-temperature records at a number of locations in North America and Europe ( Given the mid-week holiday and the local weather, it was a good time to be away from New York City, and I was among many who followed this advice. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 29, 2018

Today marks the last business day of Columbia University’s fiscal year, and there have been myriad financial, personnel, and associated programmatic issues to address and resolve, particularly for Lamont’s cheerfully hard-working administrative staff. It is well that the coming week includes a Wednesday holiday that will enable long weekends off for many. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 22, 2018

Yesterday was the summer solstice, as you could have ascertained from a measurement of the hours of daylight or the noon position of the Sun in the sky. Summer-like weather in New York and elsewhere in North America, of course, jumped the gun. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 15, 2018

Yesterday, a beautiful late spring day, was Flag Day, and those of us who commuted to Lamont from New York City were greeted en route by a giant American flag hanging from the western tower of the George Washington Bridge. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 8, 2018

This week began Saturday with the fall of asteroid 2018 LA, an object some 2 m across that was largely consumed in an atmospheric fireball over southern Africa. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 1, 2018

The flip of the page on our monthly calendars today reminds us that Lamont Summer Interns will be arriving early next week, in time for a welcoming reception next Tuesday. This summer the program will welcome 28 interns from 19 colleges and universities. The interns will work on research projects supervised by 35 mentors. A list of the interns, their undergraduate institutions, and their mentors follows. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 25, 2018

Notwithstanding that the spring semester has ended and Commencement was last week, the impending end of the academic and university fiscal year makes this an especially busy season. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 18, 2018

Commencement events at Columbia University this week marked important milestones for many of our students, notwithstanding the week’s storm fronts and rainfall totals. To all with new degrees, congratulations! 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 11, 2018

This week, Visiting Senior Research Scientist Al Hofmann received the good news that he has been elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 4, 2018

This week marked the end of classes for the spring semester on Monday, and record-tying to record-breaking high temperatures for the date in Central Park on Wednesday and Thursday ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 27, 2018

This week Alex Halliday moved to New York City, and he will begin his tenure as Director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute on Monday. A Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Alex will also join Lamont’s Senior Staff on Monday. As a member of the Geochemistry Division, he now has an office in the Comer Building and will soon have a laboratory for isotope geochemistry and cosmochemistry. He will devote much of his first day on the job hosting a meeting of the Earth Institute faculty, also in Comer. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 20, 2018

This week has led up to Earth Day 2018 this Sunday ( In recognition of Earth Day, the campus hosted a Charity Yoga Class on Tuesday – with donations collected for the NYC Fresh Air Fund – and Bike-to-Work events from Manhattan and from Nyack and Piermont this morning. All who joined one of the Bike-to-Work groups were treated to a free breakfast in the Lamont Café. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 13, 2018

This week was made much more difficult by the announcement Tuesday that the National Science Foundation will divest from its ownership of the R/V Marcus Langseth after the end of existing and anticipated commitments to projects requiring the vessel’s special capabilities ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 6, 2018

This week the local weather has been as volatile as tweets from the White House, with a high temperature of 61°F in Central Park on Sunday, a second spring snowstorm on Monday morning, and high temperatures in the mid-fifties and widespread morning fog on Wednesday. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 30, 2018

The surest sign of the change of seasons this week was the opening of the Major League Baseball season yesterday. Neither the Mets nor the Yankees disappointed local fans. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 23, 2018

We welcomed spring this week with a vernal equinox early Tuesday afternoon (Eastern Daylight Time). The change in season seemed only a technicality by Wednesday, however, when an early spring storm closed the Lamont campus and left New York City with 5 to 14 inches of new snow ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 16, 2018

This week marked Spring Break from classes at Columbia, and the arrival Monday night of the third nor’easter in 11 days, albeit a storm that did not match the first two in either top wind speeds or snow accumulation levels. The week even included Pi Day (, complete with a dedicated rap number ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 9, 2018

This week was punctuated by a winter storm Wednesday that dropped snow unevenly across the region ( and closed the campus for the day. That we could open our doors at a normal time Thursday morning was the result of long efforts Wednesday afternoon and evening by Andy Reed and eleven of his colleagues from Facilities who plowed and shoveled our roads, pathways, and parking lots. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 2, 2018

The Earth itself was once again in the news this week, beginning with unusually warm temperatures in the high Arctic on Saturday, an event that prompted a story on Vox Media ( quoting Marco Tedesco. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 23, 2018

This week brought unusual swings in local weather, beginning with a snowstorm Saturday evening, the breaking of high-temperature records for the date and the month on Wednesday (, and more seasonal weather at the end of the week. Every roller coaster ride comes to an end. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 16, 2018

This week began on Sunday with the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (, a day “to promote the full and equal participation of women and girls in education, training, employment and decision-making processes in the sciences,” according to a resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2015. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 9, 2018

It has been an unusual week. A magnitude 6.4 earthquake off the Taiwan coast took lives and toppled buildings Tuesday (, and one day later a magnitude 2.2 earthquake north of Lamont was felt locally ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 2, 2018

This week brought the good news from the Geological Society of London that Terry Plank is to receive the 2018 Wollaston Medal, the society’s highest honor first awarded in 1831 ( Previous recipients of the Wollaston Medal over its long history include Charles Darwin, Charles Lyell, and G. K. Gilbert. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 26, 2018

This week began not just with a shutdown of the federal government, thankfully short lived, but with punctuated commentary from the solid Earth. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 19, 2018

This week ends with uncertainty over whether the federal government will still be in operation tomorrow. The House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution last night – the fourth of this fiscal year ( – and the Senate must pass the bill by midnight tonight to avoid a shutdown. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 12, 2018

One week ago, our Facilities staff had just finished shoveling out our campus following a major snowstorm, and we were facing a weekend with record low temperatures for the date. Today, temperatures well above the average high for the date and steady rain are changing the landscape and threatening local flooding ( This winter season promises to be an interesting one. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 5, 2018

Already truncated to three workdays by university holidays, this week was shortened further by weather, when a severe winter storm ( closed the campus yesterday. That we could open the campus at the usual time this morning is the result of daylong efforts yesterday by Andy Reed and a dozen of his colleagues from Facilities who plowed and shoveled out our roads, pathways, and parking lots.

Lamont Weekly Report, December 29, 2017

This Sunday is not only the last day of the calendar year, it is the last day of work at Lamont and Columbia University for Larry Rosen. Larry has logged a total of 38 years of service at Columbia, beginning with 9 years (1970–1979) at Columbia University Medical Center’s Biochemistry Department. For the last 29 years (1988–present), Larry has served the Ocean and Climate Physics Division as Senior Systems Analyst and Programmer. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 22, 2017

Winter is no longer coming; it’s here. The winter solstice was marked at 11:28 EST yesterday, and we have begun three months of seasonally appropriate weather. At least the duration of daylight will now increase daily until June. I am pleased to report that Tim Crone has been promoted to Lamont Associate Research Professor, Senior Staff, effective next month. The Marine Geology and Geophysics Division held an informal party yesterday afternoon to celebrate the milestone. Please join me in congratulating Tim on his new rank! 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 15, 2017

Many from Lamont have spent much or all of the week at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held in New Orleans this year for the first time. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 8, 2017

This week has been both the last full week of fall semester classes and the week before the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union. The AGU meeting is being be held in New Orleans for the first time, and I hope that all of you planning to attend will be able to drop by the reception for Lamont and Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences alumni, staff, and students next week. The event will be on Tuesday evening at the usual time (6:30-8:30 pm) in the Louisiana Ballroom of the Loews New Orleans Hotel. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 1, 2017

The week began with a magmatic eruption at Mount Agung, a volcano on the island of Bali in Indonesia. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 22, 2017

This week is shortened by the Thanksgiving holiday, and this weekly report is correspondingly shorter as well. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 17, 2017

The week was ushered in with a magnitude 7.3 thrust-faulting earthquake Sunday along the border between Iran and Iraq. With more than 500 fatalities, the quake is the deadliest in the world this year to date ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 10, 2017

Last Friday, the U.S. Global Change Research Program issued the Climate Science Special Report, the first of two volumes in the Fourth National Climate Assessment and “an authoritative assessment of the science of climate change, with a focus on the U.S.” ( Radley Horton is one of the lead authors of the report. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 3, 2017

It was a week when terrorism hit close to home. Our thoughts and our hearts go out to the injured and the families and friends of those killed. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 27, 2017

This Sunday will be the fifth anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Sandy, and on Monday a Sarah Fecht story on the lingering aftereffects of the storm – with comments from Klaus Jacob, John Mutter, and other Earth Institute members – was posted on our web site ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 20, 2017

This week has been marked by beautiful fall weather, with high temperatures 5°-10°F higher than historical averages for each date. And yesterday the National Weather Service released its annual winter outlook, which calls for warmer than normal winter temperatures for most of the continental U.S. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 13, 2017

This week was launched by Open House. Fine weather contributed to a record attendance of 3891, an increase by nearly 900 over last year ( The official head count was certified by Howie Matza, who logged 440 individuals arriving by automobile to the campus, 565 attendees delivered by bus from the city, and 2886 riders on the shuttles from the HNA parking lot. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 6, 2017

This is the week that most Nobel Prizes were announced, and we congratulate our Columbia University colleague Joachim Frank for his 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (! 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 29, 2017

Washington Post-ABC News poll taken last week indicates that 55% of Americans now agree with the statement that climate change has contributed to the severity of the largest recent hurricanes ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 22, 2017

This has been a terrible month for natural disasters, with two major earthquakes in Mexico and multiple Atlantic hurricanes. On Tuesday, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake southeast of Mexico City produced widespread structural damage and more than 200 fatalities ( The normal faulting event occurred at 50 km depth, probably within the subducting Cocos plate, according to the U.S. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 15, 2017

With all of the attention devoted to hurricanes last week, it might have been easy to overlook the magnitude 8.1 earthquake that occurred off the coast of Chiapas, Mexico, last Thursday night local time ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 8, 2017

Two weeks ago Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, today we await the U.S. landfall of the still stronger Hurricane Irma, and Hurricane Jose is not far behind. The topic of extreme weather is dominating headlines, changing the political landscape in Washington, and prompting broad humanitarian support for those now recovering from a hurricane’s passage. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 1, 2017

For the third week in a row, the Lamont family was saddened by loss. Charles Bentley, a graduate student at Lamont early in the Observatory’s history, from 1950 to 1956, passed away on August 19 ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 25, 2017

For the second week in a row, the extended Lamont community was saddened by the news of the loss of one of our members. Joseph Valenti, who worked in the Observatory’s Buildings and Grounds Department for 24 years from 1979 to 2003, passed away on August 14 ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 18, 2017

The Lamont family was saddened recently by the news that former staff member Adele Hanley passed away on August 1. Mother of Lamont’s Jean Hanley, Adele worked as a Staff Associate in the Geochemistry Division for 32 years, from 1969 until her retirement in 2001. While at Lamont, she provided analytical support for a broad range of studies of marine sediments and ice cores, and she participated in several oceanographic cruises. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 11, 2017

One of the news stories that led off this week was a New York Times article on the most recent draft of the Climate Science Special Report of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (, of which Radley Horton is one of 29 lead authors. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 4, 2017

Last week, when I mentioned the American Geophysical Union’s announcement of the members elected as AGU Fellows for 2017(, I neglected to note that Lamont and Columbia University alumnus Youxue Zhang is among the new Fellows. Youxue completed his Ph.D. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 28, 2017

Every President since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has had a science advisor, and this administration has gone longer than most without one. A lengthy article in Eos yesterday ( suggests that a science advisor to President Trump may soon be named. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 21, 2017

Yesterday marked at least two milestones. It was the 48th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, the first time humans walked on the Moon. And it was six months to the day after the start of the Trump administration. For different reasons, both of those events seem a very long time ago. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 14, 2017

It doesn’t matter whether you measure your academic summer by the major league baseball schedule or the time between commencement and the start of fall classes. This week we passed the halfway mark. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 7, 2017

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Montana yesterday and a record-setting heat wave in southern California brought to a close a holiday-punctuated week that also marked the beginning of a new academic year. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 30, 2017

Today marks not merely the end of a month but the end of the university’s fiscal year. A blizzard of personnel and financial matters should finally clear for a time, permitting the latest professional and scientific milestones to gain appropriate attention. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 23, 2017

The summer solstice fell on Wednesday this week. The hours of daylight will progressively shorten each day for the next six months, but thankfully there is compensating good news. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 16, 2017

It was the last full week of spring, with high temperatures early in the week to foreshadow the coming season, and a giant American flag draped from the superstructure of the George Washington Bridge on Wednesday to announce to those of us commuting from the city that it was Flag Day. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 9, 2017

This week included World Oceans Day, a day celebrated “to honor, help protect, and conserve the world’s oceans” ( I hope that each of you took a moment this week to acknowledge the importance of the world’s oceans for Earth’s climate and ecology. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 2, 2017

This week will be remembered for President Trump’s announcement yesterday that the United States will withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, a move that the Editorial Board of The New York Times ( lamented has “dismayed America’s allies, defied the wishes of much of the American business community he pretends to help, threatened America’s competitiveness..."

Lamont Weekly Report, May 26, 2017

Even with the spring semester now over, this week was a busy one at the Observatory. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 19, 2017

It was Commencement Week at Columbia, and a week that saw a record high temperature for the date yesterday in Central Park and many other locations in the region. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 12, 2017

Notwithstanding the events since Tuesday in Washington, D.C. – variously compared in the media with the Saturday Night Massacre and a rerun of The Apprentice – this week was notable for the public launch of Columbia University’s new capital campaign. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 5, 2017

This week heralded the end of the spring semester, with the last day of classes on Monday and the first day of the final exam period today. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 28, 2017

This week ended unexpectedly, with a campus closure today as a result of a break in our pressurized main sewer. The break was discovered by our Facilities staff yesterday afternoon, and its source was confirmed by a dye test. Our staff shut off the sewer pumps and the water to the campus and notified the county health department. This morning the gas and other utility lines in the area of the break were marked out, and our team began digging to carry out the repair work. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 21, 2017

It has been a week bookended by named lectures. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 14, 2017

One week from tomorrow will be Earth Day (, the day of the March for Science in Washington, D.C. (, and at more than 500 satellite locations. Many from Lamont plan to participate in either the Washington or the New York City march. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 7, 2017

Politico circulated a story last week that workers at the Department of Energy’s Office of International Climate and Clean Energy were told to avoid the phrase “climate change” in written communications and briefings ( Earth’s climate, of course, will continue to evolve no matter what language is used by officials in Washington. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 31, 2017

Columbia’s Office of Communications is doing a good job at keeping Lamont in the news stories posted on the university’s home web page ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 24, 2017

The week began with the vernal equinox on Monday. New York City weather did not seem to take notice. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 17, 2017

As if to mock Columbia University’s Spring Recess, this week was punctuated by a major snowstorm Tuesday that left more than 7 inches of snow in Central Park, dropped greater totals of frozen precipitation in surrounding areas, and closed the Observatory for a full day. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 10, 2017

Yael Kiro learned this week that she is to receive the Prof. Rafi Freund Award from the Israel Geological Society. The award, named for a former professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is given to recognize outstanding papers in the geological sciences published over the past three years. Yael was lauded for two papers published last year and this on the analysis of sediments cored from the floor of the Dead Sea in terms of changes to the hydrology of the area over the last three interglacial periods. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 3, 2017

The week began with our annual Awards Recognition Ceremony, a celebration of the awards in research and education received by our colleagues during calendar 2016. The ceremony was held as part of a reception in the Monell Lower Lobby.

Lamont Weekly Report, February 24, 2017

The 2016 GeoPRISMS Student Prizes for presentations at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting have been announced, and two our students have been honored. Dan Rasmussen received the Best Poster Presentation Prize for his paper on “Run-up to the 1999 sub-plinian eruption of Shishaldin Volcano unveiled using petrologic and seismic approaches,” on which Terry Plank and others were coauthors. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 17, 2017

Laura Haynes learned recently that she is to receive a 2017-2018 Schlanger Fellowship from the International Ocean Discovery Program. Named for the late marine geologist and ocean drilling pioneer Seymour (Sy) Schlanger, the fellowship is a “merit-based award for outstanding graduate students to conduct research related to the IODP” ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 10, 2017

Long-time members of the Lamont community were saddened by the news that former Lamont engineer and Senior Staff Associate Chuck Hubbard passed away late last week ( Chuck logged nearly three decades of work on geophysical instrument development and field measurements before his retirement in 1983. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 3, 2017

A story in The Washington Post yesterday summarized a recent poll of opinions on human-induced climate change taken by researchers at the University of New Hampshire ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 27, 2017

On Tuesday morning, with a half-page spread in The New York Times, Columbia University and the G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation announced that Mark Cane and Princeton University’s George Philander are to share the 2017 Vetlesen Prize for their work on the tropical atmosphere-ocean system that led to an understanding of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation and its global impacts. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 20, 2017

The National Atmospheric Administration and NASA released official reports this week that 2016 saw the highest global average surface temperature on record, making each of the last three years ones that surpassed an earlier record. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 13, 2017

The first full workweek of the calendar year saw an unusually wide range of daily high temperatures in Central Park, from 23°F on Monday to 65°F yesterday, the latter breaking a record set in 1890 ( Lamont welcomed several new arrivals this month. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 6, 2017

For a second week in a row we were treated to two university holidays. As if to compensate, the weather finally turned seasonally appropriate to the first week of the New Year. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 30, 2016

The first full week of winter led off on Sunday with a blizzard in the Dakotas, a super typhoon hitting the Philippines, and a magnitude 7.6 earthquake off the coast of southern Chile. University holidays on Monday and Tuesday and an early Observatory closure this afternoon cut the workweek nearly in half. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 23, 2016

This is one of those ‘tween weeks, sandwiched as it is between the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting and the year-end holidays. For any of you who missed a lecture or key session at that meeting, a close-out message by Denis-Didier Rousseau ( points you to AGU’s On Demand site. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 16, 2016

Many from Lamont have been in San Francisco this week for the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union. In addition to a number of news items from the meeting, there are a few items from last week that were not included in the previous Weekly Report. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 9, 2016

This week has been both the last full week of fall classes and the last week before many from Lamont fly to San Francisco for the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, some highlights of which are summarized in a Stacy Morford story posted on Wednesday ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 2, 2016

Planetary change was much in the news this week, with stories on topics ranging from the effects of the rapid rates of warming in the Arctic on the indigenous population ( to a record bleaching and die-off of coral produced by ocean warming along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 23, 2016

A second week in a row was ushered in by a major earthquake. On Monday (our time), a magnitude 6.9 earthquake that struck offshore of the Fukushima Prefecture of Japan ( was reminiscent of the much larger Tohoku earthquake of 2011 in the same area. This week’s quake produced widespread shaking and a modest (1.4 m) tsunami but no major damage. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 18, 2016

Much was heard from the southern hemisphere this week. Sunday morning (our time) was punctuated by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in New Zealand on the complex plate boundary that links the subduction zone along the Hikurangi Trough east of North Island to the transform fault through South Island. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 11, 2016

If U.S. Presidential elections could be assigned earthquake magnitudes, this week’s election was at least a 9.5. Media articles are beginning to address the question of how federal support for scientific research may fare under a Trump administration, and Robin Bell was quoted in one such story ( on Wednesday. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 4, 2016

This was the last full week before the end of an extraordinarily vitriolic and polarizing Presidential campaign season. Fortunately, the news about our planet’s future has given greater grounds for hope. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 28, 2016

The Lamont community was saddened by the death this past weekend of University of Maine glaciologist Gordon Hamilton, whose snowmobile fell into a crevasse in an ice sheet shear zone during fieldwork in Antarctica. A Justin Gillis story in the Science Times section of The New York Times on Tuesday captured Gordon, his work, and its importance for climate science ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 21, 2016

It was an unusual week for local weather. Whether the term Indian summer was applicable (, temperature records for the date had been set in New York and other northeastern cities by midweek, but markedly cooler and windier conditions were forecast for the weekend. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 14, 2016

Kicking off this week was Lamont’s Open House on Saturday. The skies were overcast, but the light rain held off for most of the day, and the many students, neighbors, and friends of the Observatory who joined us contributed to a final attendance figure of 2998, more than 200 higher than two years ago. In the tents and in our buildings, visitors experienced hands-on science, toured laboratories and exhibits, and enjoyed a diverse menu of talks and presentations. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 7, 2016

As this week closes, Hurricane Matthew is centered just off Florida’s eastern coast and is advancing northward, following its devastating trajectory across St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and the Bahamas. Even at Lamont, the storm affected the schedule of research. Joaquim Goes was to have participated on a NOAA oceanographic expedition slated to depart Wednesday from Charleston, South Carolina, but he wrote that the sailing time had been postponed at least until the weather cleared and the scientific party had been sent inland. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 30, 2016

On Sunday, Jeff Weissel relayed the sad news that former Adjunct Senior Research Scientist and long-time Lamont Senior Staff member Bob Stoll passed away on September 17 ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 23, 2016

This week has been Climate Week NYC (, designed by the organizers to bring “together influential global figures - and new voices - from the worlds of business, government and society who are leading the low carbon transition” and provide “the collaborative space for climate events in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement.” Columbia University hosted an International Conference on Sustainable Development on Wednesday and Thursday, IRI cosponsored an event 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 16, 2016

Yesterday, President Obama designated the first marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 9, 2016

Late this morning, a note from Enrico Bonatti brought the sad news that Dee Breger passed away yesterday. With a degree in studio art from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Dee joined Lamont in 1964 as a scientific illustrator. She quickly gained expertise in electron microscopy, and for 22 years she managed Lamont’s scanning electron microscope and X-ray microanalysis facility. She also participated in more than 30 field expeditions, most at sea. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 2, 2016

The arrival of new students to the Morningside Campus this week foreshadowed the end of summer for all of us. The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, too, welcomed 17 new graduate students.

Lamont Weekly Report, August 26, 2016

This week was punctuated by the magnitude 6.2 earthquake that hit central Italy on Wednesday. A normal faulting event, the quake was located 10 km southeast of the town of Norcia in the central Apennines, and casualties numbered in the hundreds. The U.S. Geological Survey reported that the event occurred in a gap between the aftershock zones of a magnitude 6.0 earthquake in 1997 and the magnitude 6.3 earthquake near L’Aquila in 2009. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 19, 2016

This week has brought multiple environmental challenges, from the floods in Louisiana to the wildfires in California. In that context, New York’s heat and humidity don't seem quite so intolerable. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 12, 2016

A notable natural event this week was the Perseid meteor shower, which peaked before dawn this morning when Earth passed through the center of the trail of Comet Swift-Tuttle ( I hope that some of you caught the show. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 5, 2016

I write this week from a South Carolina beach, an apt location for quiet contemplation of coastal zone ecology, longshore currents, and sea-level rise. This week’s report is consequently somewhat shorter than usual. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 29, 2016

Carlos Gutierrez retired today after devoting more than 43 years to Lamont, mostly on our oceanographic ships. Carlos sailed on more than 150 cruises on the R/V VemaConradEwing, and Langseth, in addition to work in our machine shop and Office of Marine Operations. His introduction to Lamont’s vessels began in July 1973 when he sailed on the Vema for 13 months in a row, took two months off, and then sailed another 9 months in a row, for 25 cruise legs in all. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 22, 2016

We are at the midpoint in the quadrennial national gatherings of the two major U.S. political parties. The Republicans completed their convention in Cleveland yesterday, and the Democrats take their turn in Philadelphia next week. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 15, 2016

To those of us striving to improve the stewardship of our planet, the savage acts that lately fill world news reports are deeply disturbing. The tragedies in Dallas and Nice remind us that our species, for all its accomplishments, can commit natural disasters every bit as devastating as those we study in Lamont’s laboratories. We can hope that progress on understanding and mitigating the worst aspects of human behavior will proceed apace with progress on understanding and mitigating the changes to our planet that humans collectively have set in motion. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 8, 2016

The week was ushered in with fireworks as we all celebrated an 18th Century version of Brexit. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 1, 2016

This week included the end of an academic and university fiscal year on Thursday, and the beginning of a new year today. A flurry of personnel and budget activities marked the lead-up to the change in the calendar. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 24, 2016

Monday was the summer solstice, when solar zenith reached its maximum northern extent, the Tropic of Cancer. We’ve enjoyed more daylight this week than any other week of this calendar year. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 17, 2016

The Earth and Planetary science community mourned the death this week of Jerry Wasserburg, isotope geochemist and cosmochemist, Crafoord Laureate, and long-time member of the faculty at Caltech. Jerry’s laboratory largely defined the history of the Moon and established the timescale between nucleosynthesis and solar system formation. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 10, 2016

This week included World Oceans Day (, “a global day of ocean celebration and collaboration for a better future.” The theme for the day, which fell on Wednesday, was “healthy oceans, healthy planet,” worthy goals for all of us. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 3, 2016

Although shortened by a Monday holiday, the week was one in which scientific progress continued at the usual pace. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 27, 2016

A second week in a row began with sad news for the extended Lamont family, with a belated report that Columbia and Lamont alumnus Charles Officer, Jr., had passed away last month ( A theoretical geophysicist with broad interests, Chuck was well known as the author of several textbooks and a number of popular books in Earth science. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 20, 2016

The week began sadly for the extended Lamont family with the news that one of our most distinguished members, John Imbrie, passed away last Friday. Considered one of the founders of modern paleoceanography, John taught at Columbia's Department of Geological Sciences (now the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences) from 1952 to 1967 and served as department chair. The recipient of many awards and honors, John shared the 1996 Vetlesen Prize. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 13, 2016

This week began with a transit of Mercury, an event that occurs only about 13 times per century ( The passage of Mercury between the Sun and Earth permits novel measurements of Mercury’s tenuous atmosphere and serves as an observational analog to extrasolar planets that transit their host stars. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 6, 2016

The highlight of the first half of this week for the Lamont community was the election on Tuesday morning of Maureen Raymo to the National Academy of Sciences ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 29, 2016

It is worth a few moments to celebrate the birthday today of chemist Harold Urey, whose discovery of deuterium in 1932 while on the Columbia faculty was recognized with a Nobel Prize two years later. Following his work on the Manhattan Project, Urey made seminal contributions that helped to establish the fields of cosmochemistry, planetary science, and what is now called astrobiology. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 22, 2016

The week began Saturday with large, damaging, and deadly earthquakes on opposite sides of the Pacific. The first was a magnitude 7.0 earthquake in central Kyushu, Japan, a shallow strike-slip rupture that had been preceded by a magnitude 6.2 foreshock two days earlier ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 15, 2016

Today’s date makes me think of income taxes. This year, as with the past several, the hectic spring schedule forces me to throw up my hands and file for extensions on federal and state taxes so I can finish gathering the needed information over the summer. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 8, 2016

Late last week, the Observatory was saddened by the news that a member of the Lamont extended family had passed away. Michael Vitelli, who worked as a Systems Analyst for Columbia University for nearly 10 years, first on the Morningside Campus and then at Lamont, died at the age of 52 on March 30 in Nyack after a long illness ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 1, 2016

The week was notable for the announcement yesterday by President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China that the two nations would both sign the Paris climate change agreement on Earth Day, three weeks from today at a signing ceremony at the United Nations ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 25, 2016

Margie Turrin learned last week that she is to receive this year’s Distinguished Service Award from the Rockland County Municipal Planning Federation. Margie was recognized for her leadership of the Rockland Planning Land Use for Students (RPLUS) program ( A milestone event for the program was a symposium last Friday, held at SUNY Rockland Community College, at which the RPLUS students presented their community project to mentors from the county. Congratulations, Margie! 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 18, 2016

The week began with a double dose of sad news: the loss from the Lamont family of Jay Ardai and Arnold Finck, both of whom passed away on Sunday. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 11, 2016

The week we were reminded that Earth shares the solar system with other objects. The Moon passed between the Sun and Earth on Tuesday night (our time) and produced a solar eclipse visible in its totality from Indonesia. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 4, 2016

Arriving at Lamont this week was Jonathan Kingslake, a new Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Jonny received his Ph.D. in glaciology in 2013 from the University of Sheffield, where he studied subglacial water flow and outburst floods with Felix Ng and Grant Bigg. As a glaciologist at the British Antarctic Survey between then and now, he led field expeditions to West Antarctica to document annual changes in ice sheet structure and longer-term ice flow patterns with phase-sensitive radar measurements. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 26, 2016

This week the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation announced that Ryan Abernathey has been selected as a Sloan Research Fellow for 2016 ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 19, 2016

The Weekly Report this week is shorter than usual because I spent much of the week off campus. From Wednesday to Friday I attended a meeting of the GRAIL Science Team hosted by the University of Hawai’i. The highpoint of the meeting was a daylong field trip, led by Jeff Taylor and Peter Mouginis-Mark of the university’s Hawai’i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, of the deposits and structures of the Ko’olau volcano in southeastern Oahu. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 12, 2016

The scientific highlight of the week was distant from the Earth and environmental sciences but spectacular nonetheless: the announcement on Thursday of the first clear detection of gravitational waves ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 5, 2016

Once again we experienced a week bookended by a snowstorm, this one at the end rather than the beginning. Once again, our Buildings and Grounds crew were in early today to clear roads, paths, and parking lots even as the snow continued to fall. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 29, 2016

This week began with a snowstorm that set accumulation records at several locations across the northeastern U.S. The brunt of the storm arrived Saturday, and by mid-morning Sunday the skies were clear. That schedule permitted our crew from Buildings and Grounds to clear all the pathways, roads, and parking lots by the start of work on Monday morning, an amazing transformation of the campus that required long weekend hours on the part of many. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 22, 2016

One of the main news stories this week was the announcement Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies ( that 2015 was the hottest on record. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 15, 2016

This week marked the first campus snowfall of this winter season. Notwithstanding the limited accumulation, our Buildings and Grounds staff were in early Thursday morning to ensure that roads, sidewalks, pathways, and parking lots were clear and safe. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 8, 2016

The first weekly report of the new calendar year provides a good opportunity to mention several recent arrivals to the campus. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 30, 2015

It has been another holiday-shortened week, one in which temperatures in the New York City area returned to seasonal levels after the record-setting highs of last week. A CNN blog by Adam Sobel (, posted on Christmas Day, explained that the high December temperatures in the eastern U.S. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 23, 2015

It is fitting that a week cut short by university holidays included the winter solstice yesterday, with the shortest interval of daylight this year and the noontime Sun at the lowest point in the sky. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 18, 2015

On the heels of a Paris Climate Summit at which the world’s nations agreed to address greenhouse gas emissions and climate change in a serious and collective fashion (, many from Lamont headed to San Francisco this week to the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union. With more than 24,000 attendees, the meeting is once again the largest in our field this year. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 11, 2015

It has been a busy week: the last full week of classes, the last week of the Paris Climate Summit, and the last week before the start of the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco. It was also the last week of the continuing resolution that has funded the U.S. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 4, 2015

The week began with the sad news that our colleague Lenny Sullivan died suddenly last Thursday morning while running in the Rockland Road Runners’ 5-mile Turkey Trot with other members of his family. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 25, 2015

Like an island amid a torrent, the Thanksgiving holiday offers a placid break from the turbulent pace of the fall semester. Both the workweek and this report are correspondingly briefer than normal. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 20, 2015

Last week’s report began with a look ahead to the climate summit in Paris at the end of the month, written in ignorance of the events of that evening that would push climate change off the front pages as the world focused instead on global terrorism. To the friends and family of the victims of the horrific events in Paris last Friday, as well as the parallel events earlier in Lebanon and Egypt, go our condolences and our steadfast support. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 13, 2015

This week was one of heightened anticipation for the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that will begin in Paris at the end of the month. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 6, 2015

If the importance of campus issues can be measured by the frequency of staff comments, then the most urgent issue for Lamont has been the poor state of repair of our campus roadways. The highlight of the week must therefore be the substantial completion of the first phase of repaving, including the entrance road, the roads around the Geoscience parking lot, and the road alongside Geoscience, the New Core Laboratory, Guest House 6, and Buildings and Grounds. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 30, 2015

The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the entire Lamont Campus was deeply saddened by the news that Missy Pinckert passed away on Tuesday morning. Missy had served as an Administrative Aide in the DEES Administrative Office at Lamont since 1982. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 23, 2015

On Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that last month had been the hottest September on record. With an unusually strong El Niño adding to the effects of global warming, the year promises to set records as well, as a Justin Gillis story ( citing Richard Seager reported that same day. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 16, 2015

The week has been notable because of the confluence of several major proposal deadlines at the National Science Foundation within a few days of one another. Lamont scientists have risen to the occasion: 28 proposals have crossed my inbox so far this week. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 9, 2015

Among this week’s highlights was the announcement on the Columbia campus yesterday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former Vice President Al Gore of several actions by New York State to encourage renewable energy usage and limit greenhouse gas emissions at state and regional scales ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 2, 2015

The big news nationally this week was that our government did not shut down at the end of the fiscal year ( With a few hours to spare, Congress approved a continuing resolution that keeps federal agencies open until mid-December. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 25, 2015

A week punctuated by the autumnal equinox was an extraordinarily busy one for New York City, with a visit by Pope Francis, the confluence of more than a hundred world leaders, a United National General Assembly session, Climate Week NYC, and the beginning today of the UN Sustainable Development Summit ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 18, 2015

This week was punctuated by the magnitude 8.3 earthquake and associated tsunami in Chile on Wednesday evening. According to Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, stringent building codes and the timely evacuation of more than a million residents saved many lives ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 11, 2015

A week shortened by a holiday seemed long nonetheless, perhaps because of the start of classes and a change in weather appropriate to the impending change in season. News of the discovery of a new branch in the family tree of our species hit the front pages (, but stories sharing those pages on the refugee crisis in Europe, the debate on the Iran nuclear deal, and today’s anniversary suggest that our evolution may not have progressed as far as we generally prefer to imagine. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 4, 2015

Climate change was much in the news this week, during President Obama’s visit to Alaska and his speech Monday in Anchorage stressing the urgency of the issue and the need for global action ( In one of his remarks, the President indirectly quoted Meredith Nettles in a comment on the rate of loss of glacial ice in Alaska and how to visualize most readily a gigaton of ice, as reported Tuesday ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 28, 2015

As August draws to a close and the onset of the fall semester looms, members of the incoming class of graduate students in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences continue to arrive. A new student orientation next Tuesday in the Comer seminar room will be the kick-off to their studies.

Lamont Weekly Report, August 21, 2015

After two weeks away from the Lamont Campus, I find that much has happened in the intervening time. A feature article remembering Denny Hayes was added to Lamont’s website last week ( Written by Kevin Krajick, the article chronicles Denny’s more than half century of research at Lamont and is filled with stories of his considerable efforts devoted to conducting marine geological and geophysical surveys at sea. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 7, 2015

The Lamont campus was deeply saddened this week by the news that Dennis Hayes passed away on Thursday morning. A fixture in the Lamont family for more than half a century and a marine geophysicist whose work took him to all the world’s oceans, Denny held important leadership positions both at the Observatory and in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Denny first arrived at Lamont in 1961, with a fresh B.S.E. degree in geological engineering from the University of Kansas. With the help of a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, he completed his Ph.D. in 1966. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 31, 2015

This week has been as rare as a blue moon, the term sometimes used to describe the second of two occurrences of a full moon within a single month. The blue moon this month was this morning at 10:43 UTC (6:43 EDT). The last blue moon was in 2012, and the next will not be until 2018. The American Geophysical Union announced this week that Suzanne Carbotte has been named a Fellow ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 24, 2015

NASA followed last week’s Pluto flyby with an announcement this week of the discovery by the Kepler spacecraft of a super-Earth in an Earth-like orbit around a Sun-like star ( The planet (Kepler-452b) is 60% larger in diameter than Earth and has an orbital period of 385 days (but its mass is unknown). 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 17, 2015

This week the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued their State of the Climate for calendar 2014. The year set many records, according to the report, including average surface temperature, average sea surface temperature, and mean sea level ( Suzana Camargo was a contributing author to the NOAA report. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 10, 2015

The summer is nearly half over. Whether you measure the season’s midpoint by Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game or the day halfway between Columbia University’s Commencement Day and Labor Day, both metrics give the same answer: next Tuesday. Nonetheless, the pace of scientific progress on our campus showed no evidence of mid-summer doldrums. On Monday, Stacy Morford joined the Observatory as our new Senior Communications Officer in the office of Development, Communications, and Strategic Initiatives. With degrees in journalism and education, Stacy spent 10 years as a reporter and wire editor for Associated Press in New York City. After editorial posts at Current Events MagazineInsideClimate News, and Education Week, Stacy served for three years as Senior Online Communications Officer for the World Bank with a portfolio that included sustainable development, climate change, and disaster risk management. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 10, 2015

The summer is nearly half over. Whether you measure the season’s midpoint by Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game or the day halfway between Columbia University’s Commencement Day and Labor Day, both metrics give the same answer: next Tuesday. Nonetheless, the pace of scientific progress on our campus showed no evidence of mid-summer doldrums. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 3, 2015

The week has been shortened by the Independence Day holiday, but much has happened nonetheless. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 26, 2015

The highlight of this week was the awarding of the 2015 Vetlesen Prize to Stephen Sparks of the University of Bristol at a black-tie dinner ceremony in Low Library on Wednesday evening. One of the world’s foremost volcanologists, Steve visited Lamont on Monday to deliver a lecture on “How volcanoes work” to a full house in the Monell Auditorium. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 19, 2015

One of the notable news events this week was the release by Pope Francis yesterday of an encyclical calling for global action on climate change and widespread threats to the environment. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 12, 2015

This week began Monday with World Oceans Day, a day recognized by the United Nations to celebrate the importance of Earth’s oceans. This year’s appropriate theme is “Healthy oceans, healthy planet” ( Newly published by the American Geophysical Union and John Wiley & Sons is a book on gender equity in Earth science co-edited by Kuheli Dutt and entitled Women in the Geosciences: Practical, Positive Practices toward Parity

Lamont Weekly Report, June 5, 2015

The news this week from Washington has been discouraging. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the FY 2016 Commerce-Science-Justice Appropriations bill that funds NSF, NOAA, NASA, and several other agencies and departments. The bill includes substantial cuts to the budgets for the Geosciences Directorate at NSF, the Earth Science Division at NASA, and climate research programs at NOAA relative to current-year levels. The White House issued a Statement of Administration Position (SAP) in opposition to the House bill and threatened that the President’s senior advisors would recommend that he veto such legislation were it presented to him for signature in that form.

Lamont Weekly Report, May 29, 2015

This week marked the arrival of the Lamont Summer Interns, undergraduate students selected for an intensive 10-week research experience conducted on our campus under the supervision of a scientific mentor. A welcoming reception for the new interns was held yesterday on the lawn between the Seismology and Geoscience Buildings. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 22, 2015

Commencement Week at Columbia has marked not only the awarding of degrees to many of the students in the Lamont community but also the change in academic season. On Sunday I attended, and spoke at, the Ph.D. Convocation for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences ( Joining the faculty for the event were Nick Christie-Blick, Bärbel Hönisch, and Pratigya Polissar. Among the Ph.D. candidates who participated were Shuoshuo Han, Gene Henry, Ge Jin, Raj Moulik, Rui Pei, Cassy Rose, John Templeton, Kaori Tsukui-Shockey, Stephen Veitch, Mike Wolovick, and Yang Zha. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 15, 2015

The week began with the sad news that Jim Simpson, an aqueous geochemist whose affiliation with Lamont and Columbia University spanned 50 years, passed away on Sunday. With a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Caltech, Jim first arrived at Lamont as a graduate student in 1965. In 1970 he completed a Ph.D. thesis under Wally Broecker's supervision on "Closed basin lakes as a tool in geochemistry." After one year as a Postdoctoral Research Associate with NOAA’s Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry Laboratory at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hilo, Hawaii, Jim returned to Columbia and Lamont in 1971 to join the faculty of what was then the Department of Geological Sciences. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 8, 2015

The week began on a high note, with the announcement by the Seismological Society of America that Chris Scholz is to receive the 2015 Harry Fielding Reid Medal. The highest honor bestowed by the society, the Reid Medal is given no more than once per year for “outstanding contributions in earthquake seismology and earthquake engineering.” Past medalists have included Paul Richards and Lynn Sykes as well as former Lamont staff members Jim Brune, Jack Oliver, and Frank Press. Chris will receive his medal at next year’s SSA meeting. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 1, 2015

This week began with the tragic earthquake in Nepal, a magnitude-7.8 event that affected one-third of the country’s population and left thousands of fatalities. Colin Stark quickly penned a piece for CNN on the seismic and tectonic history of the region and the consequences of increases in population and lack of adherence to building construction codes in urban areas ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 24, 2015

This week included Earth Day on Wednesday (, and even the Google Doodle included an image of our planet. The week was also one in which we marked two departures. Hélène Carton is leaving Lamont to take a junior faculty position at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 17, 2015

The spring season is eagerly awaited. Splashes of forsythia, daffodils, and tulips in the area suggest that the greening of the campus is not far off. This is the week of the European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna, Austria. At that meeting, Göran Ekström was awarded the Beno Gutenberg Medal from EGU’s Seismology Division. Göran received the medal “for contributions to the understanding of the elastic (particularly anisotropic) and anelastic structure of the Earth, and for understanding and characterising seismic sources. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 10, 2015

This time of year is always busy at Lamont, and this week has been no exception.
Maureen Raymo learned this week that she has been elected an Honorary Fellow of the Geological Society of London, the oldest national geological society in the world. Her citation reads, in part, as follows: “Maureen Raymo was the first female recipient of the Wollaston Medal, the Society’s most senior medal. She is an outstandingly creative scientist who has been setting the agenda in the study of the history of the ocean, and the Earth as a whole. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 27, 2015

Lamont ended last week by hosting the third annual Seismology Student Workshop (, a one-of-its-kind event run exclusively by and for graduate students. The organizers for this year's workshop, held last Thursday and Friday, were Celia Eddy, Helen Janiszewski, Kira Olsen, and Zach Eilon. Participants included 39 students from 15 different universities in nine different states. The workshop featured 21 talks on a wide range of topics. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 3, 2015

Earth’s climate was much in the news this week. On Tuesday, the White House released President Obama’s plan to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent within the next decade ( On Wednesday, the governor of California imposed the state’s first-ever mandatory reductions in water use in response to the region’s four-year drought and a winter of record-low snowfalls in the Sierra Nevada ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 20, 2015

This past weekend began with a once-in-a-century event, a Pi Day good to five significant figures ( I spent that morning traveling to and from Norwalk, Connecticut, to give a 30-minute presentation on my work and Lamont more generally to the Columbia University Trustees. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 13, 2015

The week began with a Washington Post story on Monday reporting that state government officials in Florida, and those in the Department of Environmental Protection in particular, are prohibited from using the terms “climate change” and “global warming” ( Another perspective, by the man who coined the latter term, appeared last week ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 6, 2015

Despite the turn of the page on the monthly calendar this past weekend, we again began a week with snow and ice. For yet one more Sunday evening, our Buildings and Grounds crew worked until 1 am to clear roads and walkways, and they returned at 7 am Monday morning to continue the task. Yesterday, with a new snowstorm that forced an early closure of the Observatory, they were back on the job. To Lenny Sullivan, Bruce Baez, Tom Burke, Carmine Cavaliere, Bob Daly, Tony De Loatch, Charles Jones, Stevenson Louis, Mike McHugh, Ray Slavin, Eric Soto, Kevin Sullivan, and Rick Trubiroha, an entire campus is once again in your debt. Thanks, guys! 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 27, 2015

The Lamont Campus was saddened to learn this week of the death of former Lamont laboratory technician and analyst Nadia Kostyk. Nadia worked at the Observatory for more than two decades, from August 1966 until September 1987, initially as a Senior Research Staff Assistant and later as a Staff Associate. A few reminiscences by Lamont alumnus and Adjunct Senior Research Scientist Richard Bopp can be found on our web site ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 20, 2015

One week after the Boston area set a record for snowfall within a 30-day period, record low temperatures for the date were reached this week in Chicago, New York, and other Midwestern and eastern cities. It is a winter to remember.
Notwithstanding the cold temperatures, there is good news to warm the spirit. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 13, 2015

For a third week in a row, Monday brought wintry weather that kept many close to home. That the campus opened and operated as usual was once again thanks to the extra efforts of our Buildings and Grounds team. On Monday, Lamont welcomed Laura (Lori) Nunemann as the Business Manager for the Observatory’s newly organized Marine and Large Programs Division. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 6, 2015

For a second week in a row, campus operations were disrupted by snow, the result this week of a storm that began Sunday night. And once again, Lenny Sullivan, Bruce Baez, Tom Burke, Carmine Cavaliere, Bob Daly, Tony De Loatch, Charles Jones, Stevenson Louis, Mike McHugh, Ray Slavin, Eric Soto, Kevin Sullivan, and Rick Trubiroha put in a long night to clear and salt campus roads and walkways. From 1:30 am on Sunday night until the middle of the next day, our 13-man crew worked to ensure that our offices and labs could open at 11 am on Monday. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 30, 2015

The highlight of the week was the “Blizzard of 2015” and the history-making shutdown of New York City on Tuesday. Adam Sobel was much in the news, both ahead of the storm’s arrival as a guest on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC (, and commenting afterwards in The New York Times ( on the general accuracy of the forecast despite the lesser snow levels in New York than the upper end of the range of predictions. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 23, 2015

The week began with announcements from NASA and NOAA that the combined average land and ocean surface temperatures during 2014 were the highest on record ( This news item found its way into Tuesday’s State of the Union speech by President Obama, who devoted four paragraphs to the topic of climate change ( Tuesday also brought the announcement that the 2015 Vetlesen Prize will go to volcanologist Stephen Sparks of the University of Bristol. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 16, 2015

Notwithstanding the seasonally cold weather, Lamont has warmly welcomed a number of new arrivals to the campus in the past couple of weeks. Karen Buck joined our office of Strategic Initiatives, Development and External Relations last week as Major Gifts Officer. Karen brings two decades of experience as a senior development professional in higher education. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 19, 2014

Many from Lamont joined the annual migration this week to the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. With nearly 24,000 attendees this year, the meeting has once again drawn complaints from many that it has become far too large.

Lamont Weekly Report, December 31, 2014

This week and last have been relatively quiet, with two holidays and many taking time off to be with family and friends. Even Nature and Science magazines schedule breaks this time of year from their weekly pace of successive issues. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 9, 2015

As befits the first full workweek of the new calendar year, the weather reminded us that winter has arrived in force. But we can draw warmth from several items of good news.
Mark Cane learned this week that he has been named a Fellow of The Oceanography Society. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 12, 2014

The week before the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting is always unusually busy. This week featured both the last day of fall semester classes on Monday and the start of the holiday party season at Lamont. Holiday festivities were kicked off on Thursday by the Geochemistry Division’s holiday luncheon, organized by Arlene Suriani and her colleagues and held in the Comer Café. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 5, 2014

The highlight of this week is the daylong symposium today in honor of Dave Walker and his many scientific contributions to petrology and its applications to our understanding of Earth, the Moon, and other solar system bodies. The symposium, entitled “From the core to magmas to beyond the Earth,” is ongoing in the Comer seminar room.

Lamont Weekly Report, November 26, 2014

For a second week in a row, the extended Lamont family has reason to grieve over the loss of a long-time member. We learned late last week, from Joyce Gavin, that micropaleontologist and climatologist Lloyd Burckle passed away two weeks ago in Falmouth, Maine. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 21, 2014

The extended Lamont community was saddened this past weekend with news of the death of Columbia University and Lamont alumnus Gary Boucher. Gary obtained his Ph.D. in seismology in 1969 after successfully defending his thesis on “Three studies of microearthquakes.”
Nano Seeber overlapped with Gary in graduate school and remembers him well. Nano writes, “Back in 1966-67, Gary and I were graduate students under Jack Oliver. We took on the task of developing one of the first portable seismometers. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 14, 2014

This week was notable for two major milestones. On Wednesday, the United States and China announced a joint plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the two countries . That same day, a spacecraft successfully landed on a comet nucleus for the first time. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 7, 2014

This week was notable for mid-term elections that left maps of Congressional and Senate districts with a substantially redder appearance. The implications of these election results for the budgets of federal science agencies this year and next will play out over the next several months. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 31, 2014

This week included the second anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Sandy, and the media responded with stories that recalled the storm and looked ahead to how the region may better prepare for such storms in the future. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 24, 2014

This week began on a high note, with a symposium Monday and Tuesday celebrating Mark Cane’s 70th birthday by honoring his four decades of seminal contributions to climate science. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 17, 2014

This week kicked off with Lamont’s Open House on Saturday. Despite a rainy morning, interest ran high among the students, neighbors, and curious members of the public who contributed to the final attendance total of 2770. In tents and in our buildings, visitors experienced hands-on science, toured laboratories and exhibits, and enjoyed a diverse menu of talks and panel discussions. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 10, 2014

The high point of the week is still to come. Tomorrow the Lamont Campus will open its doors to as many as 4000 visitors for the Lamont Open House. From exhibits in our laboratories and facilities to hands-on science experiences in our city of white tents and four parallel sets of lectures and panel discussions, the breadth and excitement of the science conducted on this campus will be evident to all in attendance.

Lamont Weekly Report, October 3, 2014

The Lamont community was saddened Wednesday by the news that Gordon Jacoby, a member of the scientific staff at the Observatory for more than a quarter of a century, passed away following a stroke. Gordon obtained his Ph.D. in hydrogeology at Columbia in 1971. Following a four-year appointment as a research hydrologist at UCLA, he returned to Lamont to co-found, with Ed Cook, the Observatory’s Tree-Ring Laboratory (TRL). Gordon was promoted to Lamont’s Senior Staff in 1984, he advanced to Senior Research Scientist in 1987, and he retired formally in 2001. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 19, 2014

The Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles were the first teams in Major League Baseball to clinch their divisions this week, leading the media to begin writing about the possibility of a Beltway World Series. In the last 25 years only two series have featured opposing teams located more closely to each other, and in one of those the third game was delayed for 10 days by one of the largest California earthquakes of the last half-century. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 26, 2014

This week was notable for several reasons. The autumnal equinox marked a change in seasons. Two spacecraft, one launched earlier by the U.S. and one by India, were independently inserted into orbit about Mars on Sunday and Tuesday, respectively. But the central topic of the week was climate change. Climate Week NYC was kicked off Sunday by the People’s Climate March, which included many from Lamont. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 12, 2014

The first full week of the fall semester has been a busy one.

Over the weekend, Terry Plank co-organized a workshop at Lamont on the geology of the Manhattan Prong, a tongue of ancient continental crust that outcrops in Manhattan, the Bronx, and segments of Brooklyn, Staten Island, and several adjacent areas. Terry writes that the workshop was “started as a grassroots effort to learn more about the local geology and pass the baton from senior geologists to the next wave.” There were about 50 participants at talks given in Comer on Saturday and on a Sunday field trip. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 5, 2014

For another week, the campus was saddened by the loss of a long-time member of the Lamont family. Oceanographer and geophysicist Ken Hunkins passed away on Tuesday. Ken began his affiliation with Lamont in 1957, when as a Stanford University graduate student he was recruited by Jack Oliver to work at an Arctic ice floe station to measure bathymetry and collect gravity and magnetic field observations. He is credited with the discovery of the Alpha Ridge, a major bathymetric feature of the Arctic Ocean floor. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 29, 2014

Our active planet was much in the news this week. The magnitude 6.0 earthquake near Napa, California, on Sunday morning damaged many of the older structures in the town center, notwithstanding a media focus on the sideshow of broken barrels and bottles of wine. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 22, 2014

The beginning of the fall semester is around the corner, and members of the incoming class of graduate students in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences have been arriving throughout the summer. All but one will be here by the new student orientation on Tuesday of next week. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 15, 2014

In a midweek punctuation to a period when many were in the field or enjoying vacations elsewhere, a summer storm brought heavy rain and flooding to the area, including a record-setting 13.5 inches of rain within 24 hours at Islip. For those on campus, the study of our planet continued. On Monday afternoon, the M.A. Program in Climate and Society staged a poster session in the Monell lobby at which graduating students shared results from their summer internship and thesis experiences. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 8, 2014

It was the week of the abstract submission deadline for the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting, and those who waited until Wednesday to submit their contribution learned that AGU’s servers and new abstract management software were not up to the challenge of handling as many as 10,000 submissions in the final 24 hours before the cutoff. A one-day extension may not have recovered all of the good will lost, but everyone who wanted to submit an abstract was finally given an opportunity to do so. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 1, 2014

For a second week in a row, the campus was saddened to learn of the loss of a long-time member of the Lamont family. Joanne Domenick, who worked in Lamont’s Human Resources Office from 1986 to 2007, passed away on July 26. Jennifer Verdin writes, “Joanne was dedicated to her Assistant Manager position in HR and took her responsibility seriously. She enjoyed a good laugh and often joked around with the guys from Buildings and Grounds.

Lamont Weekly Report, July 25, 2014

The campus was saddened to learn this week of the loss of two members of the extended Lamont family.

Lamont and Columbia alumnus Dann Spariosu passed away in May. Dann completed his Ph.D. here in 1984 under the supervision of Dennis Kent. Dennis writes that Dann “knew a lot of stuff, and it was fun working with him, especially on fieldwork in Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland, as well as on the Glomar Challenger leg through the Panama Canal. Good times.” After leaving Lamont, Dann joined the faculty of the University of Georgia. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 18, 2014

The international news of late has cast a discouraging pall, as the fierce but generally civil national rivalries on the soccer pitch have been eclipsed by rockets, missiles, and armies on the move. The contrasts between military conflict and the peaceful pursuit of a deeper understanding of our planet, an intrinsically global endeavor often advanced through long-term collaborations that bridge the oceans and cross political divides, were etched a little deeper this week. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 11, 2014

The strongest typhoon to date in the 2014 Western Pacific season and a magnitude 6.9 earthquake near the Mexico-Guatemala border reminded us once again this week that an improved understanding of our dynamic planet is amply warranted.

This week has also been a challenging one for our Office of Marine Operations. On Tuesday of last week, the R/V Langseth sailed from her berth at SUNY Maritime College to begin an NSF-sponsored cruise, led by chief scientist Greg Mountain of Rutgers University, to collect three-dimensional seismic images of the upper crust of the continental shelf off of New Jersey. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 3, 2014

This holiday-shortened workweek features the first named storm of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season. The hurricane shares its name with our Deputy Director. On Monday, the campus was visited by 64 students from the Master’s Program in Environmental Science and Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 27, 2014

Today ends the final full week of the academic year, and the last few days have been filled with reappointment letters, personnel actions, and year-end budget issues.

I am pleased to announce that Alberto Malinverno has been appointed a Lamont Research Professor, effective 1 July. Alberto has held a Senior Research Scientist position at Lamont since 2005. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 20, 2014

Tomorrow’s summer solstice marks the annual maximum in the daily minutes of sunlight for the northern hemisphere. It seems ironic that the path toward fall and winter begins just as the uptick in air conditioning costs tracks the arrival of summer heat and humidity. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 13, 2014

This Lamont Weekly Report is the 100th I’ve written since my arrival nearly two years ago. The time has passed quickly, in large part because of the collective accomplishments of everyone at the Observatory, even though many of our community’s shared goals for the future of our campus still lie ahead. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 6, 2014

This week began with a sudden sense of loss as we absorbed the news that George Kukla passed away on Saturday. George joined Lamont’s Senior Staff in 1973 and had been a Special Research Scientist since 2001. A geologist and paleoclimatologist, George was an expert on the climate variations of the Quaternary and their causes, having extracted important information from loess sequences in Europe, North America, and East Asia. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 30, 2014

Although the week had fewer workdays than normal, there was no shortage of good news regarding recognition of the accomplishments of several of our colleagues. Adam Sobel learned this week that he is to receive the 2014 Atmospheric Sciences Ascent Award by the American Geophysical Union’s Atmospheric Sciences Section. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 23, 2014

This week, of course, was Commencement Week at Columbia University. One of the notable events amid the gown-filled ceremonies was the presentation of the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Achievement to Wally Broecker at the Convocation Ceremony of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences on Sunday. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 16, 2014

The end of the academic year feels closer this week. Final examinations were held, and preparations for next week’s commencement activities neared completion. An item of particularly good news for Lamont is that Wally Broecker will receive the Dean’s Distinguished Achievement Award this coming Sunday at the Convocation Ceremony of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 9, 2014

This week’s release of the third National Climate Assessment drew widespread media attention, including a Justin Gillis story on the front page of Wednesday’s New York Times, but the pace of activities at Lamont followed its usual rhythm. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 2, 2014

The high point of the week was Peter Kelemen’s election on Tuesday to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors in American science. A Kim Martineau story on Peter was posted to our web site a day later, and a reception to celebrate the occasion will be held at 4:30 this afternoon in the Monell Lobby. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 25, 2014

This week included Earth Day , and many of us on campus tipped our collective hats in celebration of our planet. For the occasion, our Campus and Life Committee organized a weeklong office cleaning and recycling program, a yoga class on Tuesday to collect donations to the New York Fresh Air Fund, and bike-to-work events from Nyack and Manhattan this morning that ended in breakfast. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 18, 2014

On Wednesday morning, the campus awoke to freezing temperatures and a new blanket of snow and ice. Madeleine Thomson’s lunchtime salads were not a reliable harbinger of spring after all. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 11, 2014

At midday on Wednesday this week, at one of the picnic tables on the deck outside the Lamont Café, Madeleine Thomson arrived and declared the day to be the start of spring. Madeleine marks the annual milestone, she explained, by switching her regular lunchtime meal from soup to salad. So if the days seem to have turned markedly more clement, and daffodils are now evident on campus, now you know why. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 4, 2014

The Earth has been much in the news this week. From the front page Justin Gillis article in Monday’s New York Times on the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on likely climate change impacts over the coming decades, to ongoing stories of casualties from last week’s devastating landslide in the state of Washington, to reports of widespread damage yet comparatively few fatalities from the magnitude 8.2 earthquake in Chile on Tuesday, our planet continues to demonstrate the wisdom of continuing the quest to improve our knowledge of Earth’s dynamical processes. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 28, 2014

It’s the first full week of spring, but the change of seasons has been difficult to discern on the Lamont campus.

Last Friday and Saturday, the Observatory hosted the second annual Seismology Student Workshop, an event run by and designed for graduate students. This year’s participants included 38 students from 12 different universities. The workshop featured 16 talks on a wide range of geophysical topics, from adjoint tomography, to noise minimization on ocean-bottom seismometers, to triggered Andean earthquakes. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 21, 2014

This week has been Spring Recess, with no classes at Columbia and no colloquium at the Observatory. The week has also been one for remembering colleagues recently lost.

A service for Gerry Iturrino was held on Tuesday at Grace Episcopal Church in Nyack. Lamont was well represented in the service and the choir, and many of Gerry’s campus friends were able to attend. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 14, 2014

For a second week in the last three, our campus grieves over the loss of a long-time friend and respected colleague, after Gerry Iturrino suffered a fatal heart attack on Tuesday night. A fixture in the Borehole Research Group, Gerry had worked at the Observatory for 18 years. Our condolences go out to Gerry’s family, even as we remember with fondness his time in the extended family that is Lamont. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 7, 2014

The week began with what The Weather Channel called winter storm Titan, but to those in the New York area the name seemed oversized. This was also the week when President Obama released his budget for the next federal fiscal year. Although the scientific community is understandably interested in what that budget might foretell for the major science agencies, there are many steps ahead before the details of those budgets will be known. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 28, 2014

It has been a bittersweet week. The campus was shocked and grieved by the tragic news that CIESIN’s Mark Becker, en route to teach a class at Bard College, was killed in a multiple-vehicle accident on the New York State Thruway on Wednesday morning. Our deepest sympathies go out to Mark’s family and friends in mourning for a life of accomplishment and promise abruptly ended in mid-stride. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 21, 2014

On winter workdays I often take the 8 am shuttle to Lamont, and if I arrive at 120th Street sufficiently early I buy a cup of coffee from the street vendor and head up to Joe Coffee in the Northwest Corner Building. (I have not learned why the coffeehouse does not begin serving its own coffee until 8 am.) 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 14, 2014

For yet another week, Lamont was closed by a snowstorm. And once again, Lamont’s snow removal crew worked around the clock, this week from Wednesday night to this morning, to make it possible to reopen the campus today. Our thanks are due once more to Lenny Sullivan and his crew of Bruce Baez, Tom Burke, Carmine Caviliere, Bob Daly, Tony DeLoatch, Joe Giebelhouse, Kelley Jones, Mike McHugh, Glenn Pforte, Ray Slavin, Eric Soto, Kevin Sullivan, and Rick Trubiroha. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 7, 2014

This week has been unusually weather challenged, with major snowstorms on Monday and Wednesday and the possibility of additional snow showers this weekend. White is the new green.

The R/V Langseth departed Newport, Rhode Island, on Tuesday and headed to Charleston, South Carolina, for long-planned shipyard work. The work will include painting of the hull and main deck, pulling tail shafts, replacing shaft seals, and performing other repairs to rudders, steering gear, and propellers. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 31, 2014

For a second week in a row, we owe a shared debt of gratitude to key staff members for responding to a campus emergency. On Saturday afternoon, the campus lost power, a switch to an emergency generator failed, and the campus computer network lost connectivity. Lenny Sullivan and a Buildings and Grounds crew that included Mike McHugh, Bruce Baez, Ray Slavin, and Kevin Sullivan restored power in little more than an hour and returned on Sunday to work on the transfer switch with technicians from the manufacturer. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 24, 2014

Lamont’s campus has been draped in white since Tuesday afternoon and evening, when a major snowstorm left up to 10 inches of snow in Rockland County. That we were able to open and operate normally on Wednesday morning was the result of nightlong efforts by members of Lamont’s Buildings & Grounds and Traffic Departments. Please join me in thanking Bruce Baez, Tom Burke, Carmine Cavaliere, Tony DeLoatch, Glenn Forte, Joe Giebelhouse, Charles Jones, Kelly Jones, Mike McHugh, Ray Slavin, Eric Soto, Kevin Sullivan, Lenny Sullivan, and Rick Trubiroha for their extraordinary efforts to ensure that scientific activities could proceed apace after the storm. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 17, 2014

This week has been one of new milestones and transitions.

On Thursday, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced that Columbia and Lamont alumnus Peter Molnar is to receive the Crafoord Prize in Geosciences for 2014. Peter, a Professor of Geological Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder, was selected “for his ground-breaking contribution to the understanding of global tectonics, in particular the deformation of continents and the structure and evolution of mountain ranges, as well as the impact of tectonic processes on ocean-atmosphere circulation and climate. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 10, 2014

The arrival of January means that you can gaze at an image of Peter deMenocal for a full month, at least if you have a copy of the Climate Models calendar as I do. The lion that shares the calendar image with Peter may symbolize the weather we’ve experienced so far this month. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 27, 2013

The last full week of the year came gift-wrapped with two weekends, and many from the Lamont community took advantage of the holidays to spend time with families and friends.

Another late-year gift was the announcement by the American Geophysical Union at the end of last week that three of our graduate students received Outstanding Student Paper Awards for their presentations at the AGU Fall Meeting earlier this month. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 20, 2013

It’s been a transitional week: catch-up after the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting for researchers, final exams for students, and a schedule in which late-calendar deadlines were blended with holiday celebrations for all.

The week began, however, with the sad news that Lamont alumna Inés Cifuentes passed away on Monday after a long battle with cancer. The first woman to earn a Ph.D. in seismology at Lamont (1988), Inés spent much of her career working in science education and on behalf of programs to attract women and minorities to the sciences. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 13, 2013

This week was spent off campus for the many from Lamont who joined more than 22,000 others at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

The week was launched on Saturday and Sunday with a meeting of the Marcus Langseth Scientific Oversight Committee, chaired by Dale Sawyer of Rice University. The first afternoon featured an extended introduction to the Langseth and its capabilities for early-career scientists. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 6, 2013

The globalization of solar system exploration was again in evidence this week. On Sunday, China launched Chang’e-3, a soft lander that will deliver a rover to the surface of the Moon later this month. That same day, India’s Mangalyaan spacecraft, launched last month into a parking orbit about Earth, completed a propulsive maneuver that sent it onto a planetary transfer trajectory to Mars. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 27, 2013

This week provides us with a reason to appreciate all that is special about Lamont: the shared sense of scientific mission, the pervasive intellectual excitement, and the consistently collegial tenor of our interactions. The passing of a former colleague, even one whose Lamont affiliation was decades past, gives us another occasion for appreciation. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 22, 2013

Fifty years ago today, at lunchtime, I was walking to the student houses on my campus after a sophomore physics lecture when my TA from Geology 1, his face wreathed in pain, gave me the news of the day. He was searching for his students to tell them that our afternoon lab had been canceled. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 15, 2013

This week began with horrific reports of the devastation in the Philippines wreaked by Typhoon Haiyan. Special reports posted on Sunday by Adam Sobel on CNN  and the Los Angeles Times

Lamont Weekly Report, November 8, 2013

On Monday, a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported the results of calculations, derived from observations made by the Kepler spacecraft, indicating that about 20 percent of the Sun-like stars in our galaxy host a planet about the size of Earth in the so-called “habitable zone,” that is, at a stellar distance at which liquid water would be stable at the planetary surface. In an odd juxtaposition of news stories, our own planet seemed to become less habitable this week. A draft report of the Intergovernmental Planet on Climate Change, leaked to the media, concludes that global food production will decline by as much as 2 percent per decade over the rest of this century as a result of Earth’s changing climate. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 1, 2013

This week marked the first anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. There were many media stories on what the storm has taught us to expect from similar events in the future as well as promising directions for mitigation, and Lamont scientists sought out for commentary included Klaus Jacob, Art Lerner-Lam , and Dorothy Peteet ( see Science Times podcast). 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 25, 2013

Our federal government has been open for more than a week, but as the fallout spreads from the shutdown the overall financial and scientific costs continue to mount. The National Science Foundation alone had to reschedule more than 100 peer review panels, and numerous target submission dates for proposals had to be reset. Field operations in Antarctica are resuming, but many programs face truncated seasons and some projects will be delayed by as much as a year. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 18, 2013

The federal government reopened yesterday, but the damage to this nation’s scientific enterprise is still being assessed. Lamont scientists prepared at least 16 proposals to the National Science Foundation for a target submission date of 15 October, but the agency has yet to announce revised schedules for submission and evaluation. More serious is the impact of the shutdown on this year’s scientific programs in Antarctica, with a key interval of austral spring now lost to fieldwork. Robin Bell was quoted in Tuesday’s edition of The New York Times on the possible consequences, and Hugh Ducklow was interviewed for a related story Thursday in Politico ( 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 11, 2013

As the workweek draws to an end, the federal government remains closed. Even as our elected representatives release statements that offer hope for a short-term agreement, the impact of the protracted shutdown is being felt across the sciences.

On Tuesday, the National Science Foundation announced that the support contractor for its Antarctic operations had been directed to begin transitioning all of its research stations to caretaker status. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 4, 2013

At the stroke of midnight on Tuesday, the federal government closed its doors for the first time since 1995-1996. Program managers and other staffers at federal science agencies were barred from their offices, prohibited from travel, and in many cases ordered not to conduct any business by phone or electronic mail. National parks are closed. The ensuing confusion is being watched closely by the administrations of Columbia and Lamont, but the costs to this nation of the inability of Congress to agree even on a simple continuation of government funding will mount sharply. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 27, 2013

Our planet flexed its muscles in Asia this week. From Saturday to Monday, “super typhoon” Usagi wreaked widespread damage in the Philippines, Taiwan, and China. On Tuesday, a magnitude 7.7 earthquake leveled villages in Pakistan. These events reminded us of the societal impact of many of the phenomena we study at Lamont.

 In the category of better news, I am pleased to report that the American Meteorological Society announced this week that Yochanan Kushnir and Richard Seager have been named Fellows of the society. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 20, 2013

The autumnal equinox will occur this Sunday, and, more importantly, the end of the federal government’s fiscal year is only 10 days away. The prospects for a government stalemate over the wording in a continuing resolution or lack of agreement on a new debt ceiling renew the sense that following Congress ranks high among this nation’s premier spectator sports, albeit with a fan base substantially smaller than those of most college and professional sport. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 13, 2013

It is a rare week that features a New York City mayoral primary, an anniversary of September 11th, and a Friday the 13th. The week nonetheless included some good news. I am pleased to report that Keep Rockland Beautiful has named Margie Turrin as the recipient of their Education Award this year. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 6, 2013

We owe the truncated number of workdays this week to the American labor movement and to President (and former New York Governor) Grover Cleveland. As if in retaliation for the three-day weekend, fall classes at Columbia began on Tuesday morning.

On Thursday, Academic Minute on WAMC Northeast Public Radio featured a discussion by Einat Lev of her research on measuring the physical properties of flowing lava. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 30, 2013

The Columbia campus is awash with students, even as the hallways at Lamont are unusually quiet, as our scientists stretch out fieldwork or grab a few final days off before the beginning of the academic year next week. I am pleased to report that we have three new Lamont Assistant Research Professors: 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 23, 2013

This week began with a front-page Justin Gillis article in The New York Times announcing that a pending report of the International Panel on Climate Change finds it “extremely likely” that human activity contributed more than half of the increase in surface temperature over the past 60 years. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 16, 2013

August is usually a time of year for fieldwork and vacations, but this week included a target submission date for proposals to the National Science Foundation’s Ocean Sciences Division, so e-mail traffic prompting me to approve proposals by Lamont scientists peaked sharply. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 2, 2013

When the monthly page on my wall calendar flips to August, the imminence of the new academic year can be clearly felt, much like the air in a subway station presages the approach of a train.

This week I spent the first four workdays in Washington, D.C., chairing a review panel for NASA. The panel was asked to evaluate proposals from multi-institutional teams for membership in a new Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 26, 2013

Today is the anniversary of the 1971 launch of the Apollo 15 mission to the Moon. Apollo 15 was the first of the so-called “J missions,” with a longer duration on the lunar surface than earlier landed missions, the first astronaut-driven rover, and an enhanced focus on science. The Apollo 15 mission included the first measurement of heat flow from the lunar interior. The PI for that experiment was Lamont’s Mark Langseth. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 19, 2013

Local heat index values above 100 F and half-empty parking lots are hallmarks of the middle of summer. Another sign of the season is this week's All-Star break for major league baseball. For baseball fans, today marks the anniversary of Cy Young's 500th win, Ty Cobb's 4000th hit, and Cal Ripken's 1500th consecutive game. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 12, 2013

This week has been punctuated with hot and humid mid-summer weather of the sort for which New York is famous, and the campus is full of college and high-school students immersed in summer research programs. The extra traffic on the Lamont shuttle has led Pat O’Reilly to move the 8:30 am outbound shuttle to 9:30 am and to add an additional bus heading back to the city at 5:30 pm, changes that will be put into effect on Monday. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 5, 2013

The beginning of this week marked the end of my first year at Lamont. The time has passed quickly, and there are still many in the Lamont community whom I would like to know better. In many ways Lamont is like a large oceanographic vessel. Course changes are made only slowly, and even while they are underway the important work of the ship is conducted not on the bridge but rather on the main deck and in the science laboratories. It is the steady pace of progress on that work that validates our mission. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 28, 2013

This week was notable for President Obama’s address at Georgetown University on Tuesday afternoon devoted in its entirety to the steps his administration will take to address global climate change. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 21, 2013

The summer solstice was reached early today, and we begin the new season even as the daily duration of sunlight begins slowly to dwindle.

The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences announced that Meredith Nettles has been promoted to Associate Professor with tenure, and Terry Plank has been named an Arthur D. Storke Memorial Professor. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 14, 2013

This week is notable for the $20 billion plans for storm protection for New York City that Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Tuesday . The plan that forms the basis for the announcement was derived in part from material issued the same day by the New York City Panel on Climate Change, a group that includes Klaus Jacob, Yochanan Kushnir, Cynthia Rosenzweig and others. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 7, 2013

This week the campus has been treated to daylong serenades by the abundant local representatives of Brood II cicadas. The R/V Langseth sailed from Vigo, Spain, on Saturday. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 31, 2013

Today is remarkable because near-Earth asteroid 1998 QE2 makes a closest approach to Earth. About 2.7 km in its long dimension, the asteroid is sufficiently large that we do not wish to witness its impact on our planet. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 24, 2013

Commencement Week at Columbia has come to a close. The M.A. Convocation ceremony of the Graduate School of Arts of Sciences on Sunday featured Terry Plank as convocation speaker. Terry spoke on creativity and her days as a graduate student at Lamont, a place of “pastoral splendor” with “forests, wild turkeys, and buildings full of mass spectrometers.

Lamont Weekly Report, May 17, 2013

The week was ushered in by a Justin Gillis story on the front page of Saturday’s New York Times announcing that the average daily level of atmospheric carbon dioxide measured on Mauna Loa had reached 400 parts per million for the first time since the Pliocene. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 10, 2013

The week has befitted the season, with deciduous trees freshly leafed and days of warm and sunny skies interspersed with drenching but needed showers.

Lamont’s spring 2013 newsletter was released early this week and will arrive shortly in the mailboxes of thousands of the Observatory’s alumni and friends. Thanks to the considerable efforts of Rebecca Fowler and colleagues at the Earth Institute, this issue has a new design and is the first to be printed in color. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 3, 2013

The highlight of the week was the election on Tuesday morning of Mark Cane and Terry Plank to membership in the National Academy of Sciences. Academy membership is one of the highest honors that can be accorded to a U.S. scientist, so seeing two of our Lamont colleagues elected in the same year is a special pleasure. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 26, 2013

The week began with the third in our Spring Public Lectures, given at Lamont Sunday afternoon by Emily Klein, on sabbatical leave this spring from Duke University as a Visiting Senior Research Scientist in the Observatory’s Geochemistry Division. Emily spoke on “Volcanoes and vents: A hidden world beneath the sea” to an appreciative audience Late last week, Lamont’s IcePod team of 10 scientists and engineers flew to Greenland with the 109th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 19, 2013

The week began with Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts, and the dual explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. That horrific event put into mundane perspective the confluence of scientific proposals, reference letters, and income tax payments all due on the same day.

Good news arrived nonetheless with the announcement from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences that three current DEES graduate students and one incoming student have been awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Student Research Fellowships, and two graduate students received honorable mention in the selection. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 12, 2013

Through much of the week, the warmth and sunshine made a convincing case that the spring season is underway, at least in our part of the globe.

I am pleased to report that Alex Chekalyuk has received an Antarctica Service Medal. The medal is awarded by the National Science Foundation in recognition of service on a U. S. Antarctic expedition. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 5, 2013

Over the week I heard many comments about unseasonably cold temperatures in the New York City area. Reports from informed colleagues that the North Atlantic Oscillation may have been a contributor offered little in the way of additional warmth. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 29, 2013

The first full week of spring has brought the welcome change that the Sun is once again in the sky for a majority of each day.

I am sorry to report that Barbara Algert, a longtime member of the staff in Lamont’s Office of Purchasing, died on 18 March. Barbara worked on this campus from 1985 until 1997. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 22, 2013

This week Congress finally passed budgets for the government fiscal year now nearly half over. Almost as if to reward themselves, they promptly took a two-week recess. 

Peter Kelemen received the good news this week that he has been elected a Geochemistry Fellow of The Geochemical Society and The European Association of Geochemistry. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 15, 2013

This week began with the loss of an hour’s sleep, as the onset of Daylight Savings Time was ushered in by the second Sunday in March.

The week ended with the sad news that Karl Turekian passed away this afternoon. A giant in geochemistry, Karl was both an alumnus (Ph.D., 1955) and a great friend of Columbia and Lamont. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 8, 2013

In the first week following sequestration of the federal budget, we all await the sound of a second shoe hitting the floor above, but business otherwise proceeds as usual. Tiffany Shaw learned this week that she is to receive a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 1, 2013

This week ended as sequestration of the federal budget is set to take effect. With nary a whimper and no bang, the House of Representatives adjourned for the weekend on Thursday. One day earlier, NSF issued an “Important Notice” stating that the effect of the sequester at that agency would primarily be felt by a reduction in new awards and that funding agreements for existing and continuing grants would generally be honored, at least for the remainder of this government. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 22, 2013

The highlight of this week was the award of the Vetlesen Prize on Thursday evening to Jean Jouzel, of the Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et l’Environnement of the Institut Pierre Simon Laplace, and Susan Solomon, of MIT. Attendance at the reception, dinner, and awards ceremony in the Low Library rotunda exceeded 230, a record for a Vetlesen Prize evening. Many from Lamont attended in their formal wear, including a number of graduate students and alumni. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 15, 2013

This week was ushered in by the largest snowstorm of the season for the northeastern U.S. At least we had a weekend to dig out. I am pleased to report several promotions, all effective as of the beginning of this month. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 8, 2013

The end of the week finds all of us witnessing the arrival of blizzard conditions, after the cancellation today of several Lamont seminars, meetings, and the Earth Science Colloquium. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 1, 2013

Every now and then, a finding from another field of science reminds me that the workings of our planet are sometimes more fascinating than we imagine. A story posted by The New Yorker  on Sunday describes a paper in Current Biology by a Swedish team reporting on a species of dung beetle.

Lamont Weekly Report, January 25, 2013

The week began with the inauguration of our nation’s President for a second term. His inaugural address on Monday included a full paragraph worthy of sustained note by all of us, clearly focused as it was on those challenges addressed daily at Lamont and across the Earth Institute: 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 18, 2013

It is the last week before classes resume at Columbia, but it was a busy week nonetheless. On Monday, the university announced that Susan Solomon of MIT and Jean Jouzel of the Commisariat à l’Énergie Atomique will share the 2012 Vetlesen Prize. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 11, 2013

The week has been filled with good news.

On Monday, word came from the International Association for the Physical Sciences in the Ocean (IAPSO) that Arnold Gordon is to receive the association’s Prince Albert I Medal for 2013. The medal, named for prince of Monaco who was the founding president of the organization from which IAPSO evolved, is awarded once every two years. Only the seventh recipient of this medal, Arnold was cited “for his outstanding contribution to our knowledge of the general circulation of the ocean and especially for his studies of the Southern Ocean and inter-ocean exchange.” 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 4, 2013

It’s a second three-day workweek in a row, this one with a thin layer of snow on the ground, a new calendar on the wall, and the promise of new adventures as the next twelve months unfold.     

Today marked the arrival to Lamont of Craig Manning, who is spending the spring semester at the Observatory while on sabbatical leave from the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at UCLA. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 28, 2012

A three-day workweek at the end of the calendar year finds many of us on travel or with families, a welcome respite before research and educational programs resume apace in the New Year. Today’s lead editorial in the Times is a well-reasoned call for President Obama to exercise greater leadership on the issue of climate change mitigation.

Lamont Weekly Report, December 21, 2012

If the number of holiday parties and their culinary offerings are measures of the collective enthusiasm and energy of an institution, then those qualities are at the highest levels at Lamont. I have attended nine such events in the last seven days, and I hope to make it a round ten after completing this report. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 14, 2012

For many of us, the return from the AGU Fall Meeting and the end of fall semester classes remind us that another calendar year is drawing quickly to a close, a perception that no doubt fueled the pace of a particularly full week.

On Wednesday, the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences announced that their Sara Langer Book Prize has been awarded to Jesse Farmer. This prize, awarded on the basis of a vote among the DEES graduate students, acknowledges outstanding contributions to graduate student life in the department and at Lamont. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 7, 2012

For those of us at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, the week has been a whirlwind patchwork of oral and poster presentations, program planning discussions, earnest conversations, and renewed connections, in part a multi-dimensional signpost of scientific progress across the Earth and space sciences and in part the tribal ritual of an enlarging and ever-broadening community.The week was launched with a meeting of the Marcus Langseth Scientific Oversight Committee on Sunday. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 30, 2012

The week before the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting is always among the most hectic of the year, and this week has been no exception.On Tuesday, we held a reception in appreciation of Barbara Charbonnet and her many contributions to Lamont’s development programs. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 21, 2012

It’s been a short workweek, truncated by a welcome opportunity to give thanks for family, friends, colleagues, and professional progress over the past year.
It is saddening, however, that geodesist and tectonophysicist John Beavan, a long-term member of the scientific staff at Lamont, succumbed to bladder cancer this past weekend.  

Lamont Weekly Report, November 16, 2012

For me, this has been a week spent off campus. I chaired a two-and-a-half-day meeting of the MESSENGER Science Team hosted by UCLA and held in Santa Monica, and UCLA persuaded me to stay in town for another half day to give a departmental seminar. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 9, 2012

By Wednesday of this week, we were no sooner back to a normal shuttle schedule and nearly full electrical service, the latter thanks in large part to the crews sent to assist our region by Georgia Light and Power, when we were welcomed by the first snow of the season. Dubbed winter storm Athena by The Weather Channel, the nor’easter delivered a coat of white to the campus and added insult to those still struggling to recover from the injuries of hurricane Sandy. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 2, 2012

This week has been consumed by Sandy and its aftermath. Because Lamont remains without normal electrical power, and many of our staff still face multiple challenges at home, it is appropriate to offer only a short and focused report. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 26, 2012


This week has been sandwiched by extreme natural events. On Monday, four geophysicists, two seismic engineers, and a government worker were given 6-year jail sentences in Italy for failing to provide the public with adequate warning of the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake, an event of moment magnitude 6.3 that led to more than 300 fatalities. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 19, 2012

That I’ve been away from the Observatory for four of the last five days has not diminished this week’s news.

On Monday, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation announced that Tiffany Shaw is one of 16 recipients this year of a Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering ( Each Packard Fellow receives an unrestricted research grant of $875,000 over five years. Nominations for fellowships are solicited from the Presidents of 50 universities, each of whom may submit no more than two nominations, so the awards are extremely competitive. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 12, 2012

The first full round of Major League Baseball playoffs and a debate between Vice Presidential candidates remind us that we are in the month of October.

In late-breaking news last week, the DEES Graduate Student Committee announced that Lorenzo Polvani was named the DEES Teacher of the Year for 2011-2012. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 5, 2012

The week has been one of continued honors, professional advancement, and institutional impact. In last week’s list of those in the Lamont community who received awards over the past year, an inadvertent omission was Celia Eddy. As a graduating senior in DEES last spring, Celia received Departmental Honors. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 28, 2012

Today we recognize those in the Lamont community who, over the past year, have received awards in science and education or have been tapped for honorary lectureships. A recognition ceremony and reception to acknowledge these honorees is being held this afternoon in the Monell lower lobby. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 21, 2012

This week was marked by recognition, outreach, and service. 

I am pleased to report that Sean Higgins, Director of Lamont’s Office of Marine Operations, has been promoted to Senior Research Scientist. The promotion recognizes Sean’s outstanding record at managing the resources and personnel in support of the operations of the R/V Langseth on behalf of both Lamont and the broader marine science community. 

For those of you interested in learning more about communicating effectively with the news media, the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Earth Institute are hosting a media training workshop on the morning of Monday, 1 October. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 14, 2012

It was evident this week that the academic year is in full swing.

On Monday, Art Lerner-Lam and I met with about two-thirds of Lamont’s postdoctoral scientists over lunch. A free-ranging discussion covered such topics as mentoring, career trajectories, expectations for scholarly progress, and opportunities for teaching and advising of student interns. Kuheli Dutt manages a web listing of Lamont’s current postdoctoral scientists (at least those who have responded to her request for a photo and a brief summary of research interests) at

Lamont Weekly Report, September 7, 2012

It has been a week of new faces and new connections.

This week Lamont welcomed the arrival of Solange Duhamel, our newest Lamont Assistant Research Professor. A marine biologist, biogeochemist, and microbial ecologist, Solange received her Ph.D. in marine environmental science from the University of Aix-Marseille II in 2007, and she completed postdoctoral appointments at the University of Hawaii and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 31, 2012

The seasons are changing. Even as many on the Lamont staff are exploiting the final days of August for the rejuvenation and renewal of late-summer vacations, the Morningside campus is awash with the fresh
faces of new students. On Sunday, the Langseth completed her most recent cruise, which included four dives by the ROV Jason, and returned to Astoria, Oregon. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 24, 2012

It has been a week when a tropical storm has captured more than the usual attention by the media and at least one of this country’s two major political parties. On Monday, the campus welcomed the arrival of Minosca Alcantara, Lamont’s new Education and Outreach Coordinator. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 17, 2012

Even after seven weeks at Lamont, my list of new experiences continues to grow.

It is with pleasure that I make my first announcement of a promotion, that of Vicki Ferrini to Research Scientist (from Associate Research Scientist), effective 1 August. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 10, 2012

One of the small pleasures from my early scientific career was the episodic arrival, by regular mail, of a postcard-sized list of the most recent publications by scientists at Lamont. Each publication carried a number, and if I circled the numbers of the papers with titles I found interesting and returned the card to the Lamont librarian, a package of reprints of those papers would arrive a few weeks later. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 3, 2012

    When the calendar page turns to August, the passage of summer seems to accelerate, this year pushed forward by the Summer Olympics and the upcoming major political conventions. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 27, 2012

Notwithstanding that my first four weeks have seemed as if at light speed, I am gradually feeling that more of the faces on campus are recognizable as colleagues. That said, there are always new arrivals. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 20, 2012

The past week has been one of comings and goings.

The week began with the wonderful news that a new honor has come to Daehyun Kim, who is to receive the 2012 James R. Holton Junior Scientist Award from the Atmospheric Sciences Section of the American Geophysical Union. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 13, 2012

    Notwithstanding that the mid-summer doldrums are upon us, the week has been an interesting and varied one at Lamont. On Wednesday, Lisa Goddard was named Director of IRI. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 6, 2012

Every institution has its traditions, and one of the better ones at Lamont is the weekly report from the Director, a practice in open communication initiated by Mike Purdy and continued by Art Lerner-Lam. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 15, 2012

Forehead slap! I neglected to note in last week's report that Bill Menke was also inducted into Columbia's 25-year club. And that doesn't include the time he spent at Lamont as a graduate student. My first sighting of Bill was probably at a fall AGU, around 1980, back when sessions were held in the basement of the Holiday Inn on Van Ness. He was wearing one of those fake fur-lined hooded parkas that when zipped up makes one look like a large Muppet. (We all had our conceits.) Bill and Dallas' arrival in 1986 signaled a new growth spurt at Lamont, and it's been a great ride. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 8, 2012

The Columbia 25-year Club has two new members from the Lamont Campus, Marty Fleisher, and Benno Blumenthal. Benno has been a mainstay in the IRI, and has implemented a widely used, sophisticated data management system and digital library. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 1, 2012

Here we are in June, with the spring semester behind and the solstice ahead. The interns and other summer guests have arrived, and are being introduced gently, no doubt, to shuttle bus etiquette. Many of our colleagues are preparing for their summer field seasons and will be leaving steamy NY for perhaps even more tropical environs. Nevertheless, it never ceases to amaze how energized and packed the Lamont Campus becomes during the summer. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 18, 2012

Tomorrow, May 19th, 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM, the Lamont - Bright Horizons Child Development Center will be celebrating ten years of service to our community. The center opened in 2000 after an internal study by the Lamont Executive Committee. It was operated by the YMCA for about a year, and has been operated by Bright Horizons since January 2002. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 4, 2012

There's more good news on the awards front this week. Pedro Sanchez was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Kaori Tsukui received an Outstanding Student Paper Award for her presentation at the 2011 AGU Fall Meeting. This is Kaori's second award! 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 27, 2012

Excom this morning: discussion of Columbia's new accounting and reporting system led by Anne Sullivan, Executive VP for Finance (lots of work, lots of staff training, will make things better, please be patient); final iterations on our By-Laws (for discussion in May and voting in June); discussion of our Post-Doc mentoring Plan and its effectiveness in preparing post-docs for career choices (Kuheli will draft some modifications for discussion); various compliance issues (more patience required, some input from Columbia needed). 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 20, 2012

News came this week that Dennis Kent has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Congratulations, Dennis!

Our last public lecture of the 2012 season will be given on Sunday (Earth Day) by Peter Kelemen. Peter's talk is appropriately titled, "Peak Earth: Population, Climate and Energy in the 21st Century." Let me take this opportunity to thank each of this year's speakers - Heather Savage, Pratigya Polissar, Greg Mountain, Donna Shillington, and Peter - for an engaging and well-targeted series of presentations. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 13, 2012

Columbia's Morningside Heights campus is one of the great urban spaces, and the first few weeks of spring illustrate the genius of McKim, Mead and White to full effect (if you forget about the 120th street canyon). The Lamont campus, as well, is glorious in the spring; the trees are about to pop, Buildings and Grounds is getting some new plants in the ground, our resident wildlife is doing what wildlife will do at this time of year, and our buildings... well, let's talk about space. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 6, 2012

The letter from President Bollinger and Provost Coatsworth announcing the appointment of Sean Solomon as Lamont's next Director signals a new era at the Observatory. We have been fortunate throughout our 63-year history to be led by a succession of outstanding and canonical directors. Under Mike Purdy's directorship, the Observatory achieved new heights of accomplishment and stability, from the successful acquisition of a new ship to the construction of a world-class geochemistry building, to the hiring of peerless scientists, to, finally, the establishment of the Lamont Research Professors. We are in the perfect position for new achievements with Sean as our colleague and our Director. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 30, 2012

Jim Gaherty, Bruce Shaw and Felix Waldhauser have each been promoted to Lamont Full Research Professor, effective March 1, 2012.  Donna Shillington and Jason Smerdon have been appointed to the Earth Institute faculty --- Congratulations to all.

Howie Matza has organized a webinar presentation Monday, April 2, at 1 PM in the Comer 1st floor seminar room on the subject of lab safety. The webinar is open to all, but is especially important to anyone working in a lab or responsible for the operation of a lab. I've previewed the webinar and recommend your participation. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 23, 2012

Yes, I forgot to write a weekly report last Friday, so I'll have to cover a couple of weeks in this one.

We are well into our Spring Lecture series, starting with the tag-team performance of Heather Savage and Pratigya Polissar last Sunday, and continuing with Greg Mountain this coming weekend. We usually fill Monell Auditorium with an engaged audience - the questions are great - and this year is off to the same start. The Development Office (Barb,
Stacey and Erika) continues to do an impressive job organizing and publicizing the lectures, and Phil Fitzpatrick mans the A/V booth. The final two lectures will be on Tax Day, April 15 (Donna Shillington) and Earth Day, April 22 (Peter Kelemen). 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 9, 2012

The week opened with a wonderful luncheon for Ken Hunkins, organized by Margie Turrin and Barb Charbonnet, with new friends, old friends and old new friends attending. We were able to present Ken with the original map - now mounted and preserved - showing the tracks of all of the drifting ice stations that revolutionized exploration of the Arctic, beginning with Ice Station Alpha during the International Geophysical Year. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 2, 2012

Just a brief report today: running out of time.

Steve Zebiak stepped down this week as Director General of the IRI, after a long and successful tenure at the helm. Steve led the IRI toward its current unique position as one of the most sophisticated sources of actionable, science-based advice to international development organizations, national institutions and agencies, and foreign governments. His contributions are immense, and both the EI and Lamont owe him a great deal. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 24, 2012

We had an executive committee marathon this morning, trying to catch up on several topics.

 I’ve asked Mahdad Parsi, Naomi Naik and Benno Blumenthal to participate in several working groups underneath the “Shared Research Computing Policy Advisory Committee” being run out of Mike Purdy’s EVPR office. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 17, 2012

Some personnel news:

Nichole Anest has been promoted to curator of Lamont's Core Repository. Under the leadership of Mo Raymo, we are planning to start a major renovation to build and support next-generation analytical facilities. As everyone knows, the cores are a never-ending source of new observations and new science, and Nichole's curation will be a crucial bridge to future utilization of the repository. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 10, 2012

A nice surprise this morning: NOAA has announced that:

"Marcus G. Langseth has been selected for a 2011 Voluntary Weather Observing Ship (VOS) Award and Plaque with an outstanding total of 3,749 valuable manual and automated marine observations!   In addition, your ship staff also helped automate observation programs on Roger Revelle and Melville. You will receive your special award later this year. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 3, 2012

We got into serious campus budget talks this week. On Monday the associate directors, the division DAs, and senior admin folks gathered in one room to scope out the remainder of this fiscal year and talk about next year's hiring and space plans. We discussed opportunities and constraints as a group, which will give us a more balanced way of managing new investments next year. For example, as part of the budget workup, we will be phasing in an approach to commodity computer purchases and training and support opportunities for senior technical staff. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 27, 2012

One of our collective strategies going forward is to broaden our base of funding from traditional sources by developing relationships with other agencies and institutions. Working in our favor is the growing realization in some of these agencies that university-based fundamental research is necessary in its own right and has much to contribute to their missions and agendas. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 20, 2012

News flash! Tony Del Genio and Peter deMenocal have been named AGU Fellows for 2012! (Also named: Lamont graduates Ana Ravelo and Paul Wessel.)

MB-System aficionados held a two-day workshop in the Worzel Room this week, hosted by Dale Chayes and Dave Caress (ex-Lamont, now MBARI). In case you don’t know, MB-System is the open-source software originally developed at Lamont for processing and displaying a host of underway marine imaging data; over the years it has been supported by NSF, NOAA, the Packard Foundation (through MBARI), and others. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 13, 2012

This being the first full week after the holiday break, most of my time was spent in meetings and catching up. Much of the next few weeks will be spent working with Edie and the associate directors preparing the Observatory budget for our next fiscal year. At the same time, we are paying close attention to the federal government's plans for future science agency budgets. Some Lamont and IRI scientists will be visiting Capitol Hill at the end of the month to participate in "Climate
Science Day," organized by the AAAS, AGU, AMS (and other professional organizations), to make the case for the importance of university-based basic research. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 6, 2012

Happy New Year and welcome back.

As you know, we had another water main break just before New Year's holiday. Dick Greco and his crew worked overtime to get it repaired before the long weekend, with just some roadwork to complete as soon as temperatures allow. 


Lamont Weekly Report, December 23, 2011

The year-end New Yorker has short fiction by Margaret Atwood in which (spoiler alert) a geologist supplies a MacGuffin and a stromatolite is the weapon of choice for an act of revenge. Leave it to Atwood to imbue the pleasures of field geology with menace. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 16, 2011

It was great to see so many friends and family at the Lamont holiday reception Wednesday afternoon. Many thanks to Miriam Cinquegrana and Bev Wuerfel for organizing the festivities. I promise we'll order more crackers next time.

I kept various meetings and appointments regarding Lamont space and communications, agency relationships, and a few other matters. We're in serious planning mode for space in several of our buildings, including planning for labs in support of several of our biogeoscience recruiting opportunities. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 9, 2011

AGU week was the usual flurry of sessions, town halls and committee meetings, with a few social gatherings thrown in. Of course, the best of these, from my unbiased perspective, was the Lamont reception on Tuesday evening. The crowd was large, loud, and loquacious. Mia Leo and her husband, Dick, were there, receiving toasts and congratulations, washed
down with warm memories. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 2, 2011

A pre-AGU week of almost daily highlights:

Monday: Mia Leo's retirement celebration was a wonderful testament to all she has done for our students, not to mention all she has done for DEES and Lamont. Among the standouts: the ecclesiastically subtle hymn to her; the doo-wop performance by the Chairs, complete with funky variable time signature; the Folksmen-style hootenanny, enhanced by a
QMDA-flavored percussion section; and, of course, "Mamma Mia," which improved on the original lyrics of possibly the most overrated bubblegum pop band on the planet. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 23, 2011

Pratigya Polissar has taken over the chairmanship of the LDEO Campus Life Committee from Jason Smerdon. Thanks to Jason for doing a great job, and thanks to Pratigya for taking this on. The Campus Life Committee is the most effective way for the broader Lamont community to express its opinions about our working environment and make suggestions
for improvements. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 18, 2011

I'm pleased to introduce Emily Soergel, who is joining us in the Director's Office as a Program Analyst.  Emily holds an MPA in Environmental Science and Policy from SIPA, and a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Florida. She will assist us in our long-term financial and programmatic planning. Emily's position is supported with funds from the Earth Institute. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 14, 2011

Today, November 11, is a palindrome in some formats. Moreover, it's the
last 'binary' date of the century (111111). The next binary date is
January 1, 2101 (010101). See you then.

Today is also Veterans Day. Many members of the Lamont community have served in the armed forces, or have family members who have served or are currently in uniform. This is a day to pay tribute to their contributions, their service and their sacrifices. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 4, 2011

Voila. The lights are on.

After nearly a week, power to Lamont appears to be fully restored. Dick Greco's crew has been on campus continuously since the beginning of Saturday's storm, keeping track of the backup generators, cleaning up debris, and saving trees where they could. The latest hiccup Thursday afternoon - a dangerous one - was a downed 13-kilovolt feed, which
brought O&R hardhats to the campus. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 28, 2011

The Consortium for Ocean Leadership, to which we belong, held its semi-annual meeting in DC this week. Dave Goldberg and I also attended a meeting of the Scientific Ocean Drilling Subcommittee of the Ocean Leadership Board. These were useful and informative meetings, highlighted by a series of presentations by Ocean Leadership and NSF senior management on the state of the federal science budgets and the impacts on ocean science research and facilities. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 21, 2011

Awards time!

 Congratulations to:

John Templeton: Sara Langer Book Prize

Steve Brusatte: Best TA

Andy Juhl: Best Teacher...

Lamont Weekly Report, October 14, 2011

Walter Brown, a member of our advisory board and a longtime friend and supporter of Lamont, was the recipient this week of the National Maritime Historical Society's David A. O'Neil Sheet Anchor Award. He was honored Wednesday evening at a gala dinner at the NY Yacht Club in midtown. Chuck Callan, another member of our board, together with the
Purdys, the Ryans, and a few other Lamonters, were able to celebrate with Walter. Not being a sailor, I had to look up the definition of "sheet anchor." It definitely fits Walter's character. Congratulations, Walter! 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 7, 2011

Open House 2011 garnered 3098 visitors by official count, 7 less than last year. That's a very good number, considering the threatening skies and our hiatus two years ago. The lectures were packed, kids were engaged, and there were huge numbers of Morningside students in attendance. Altogether, it was a great day, with the staff barbecue providing the right finishing touch. Congratulations, and thanks to everyone, including Exxon/Mobil Community Relations, the Earth Institute, and a number of private donors for their financial support. Does anyone know the names of the 7 who wimped out? 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 30, 2011

Once each year, the USS Constitution, the world's oldest, floating, commissioned warship in the US Navy, is towed from her dock in Boston Harbor and then berthed in the opposite direction to ensure that she weathers evenly. Once each year, the LDEO Borehole Logging Truck is brought out for Open House demonstrations, and afterwards returned to its parking spot. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 23, 2011

The equinox has passed, fall has fallen, and Open House 2011 (October 1) is around the corner. The tents will go up next week. Buildings and Grounds, Security, the Development Office, the External Relations Team, and, to be sure, most of the science staff and students, are all busy with preparations. Some of our alumni will be returning to campus and, as usual, there will be a few VIPs floating around. Most importantly, Marc Speigelman will be doing his Sid Viscous act on a tub of cornstarch. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 16, 2011

This week was spent on the director search matters, preparing for next week's Langseth review at NSF, celebrating Adrienne Block's successful defense, and honoring Rusty Lotti for her years of service to the Core Repository and Lamont. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 9, 2011

The Scholarly Communications Program of Columbia Libraries/Information Services has been organizing a seminar series entitled “Research without Borders.” Kerstin Lehnert, Director of the Integrated Earth Data Applications facility at Lamont and an authority on geoinformatics, will be speaking at an upcoming program on Tuesday, September 27th, at noon in the Faculty House.  

Lamont Weekly Report, September 2 2011

I hope you've been able to dry out since last weekend. Irene cut quite a swath. The city seemed to survive; I live in a high-rise in "Zone B" on the West Side and was watching the storm surge lap up and over the aprons of some of the piers on Sunday morning. By that afternoon, the wind was coming in from the west. Things seemed calm, so I opened a west-facing casement window to get some air. Dumb move: my windows open inward and sure enough every loose thing in my living room got blown away. I had to put on sneakers in order to get enough grip on the floor to push the window closed. Still, I was lucky; I know some of you lost power or were flooded or were stranded somewhere. I'm just glad none of you were hurt. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 26 2011

On Tuesday, around 13:56, while I was sitting in Hogan Hall going over our upcoming NSF meeting about the Langseth, my daughter tweeted that she had just felt an earthquake. The Virginia earthquake occurred at around 13:51. It takes about a minute for the P-wave to reach the NYC metro area, and about another minute for a large waveset (a kind of surface wave) to hit, which is presumably what she felt. So now I know that my daughter's telecom latency is about 3 minutes. This is a very useful number. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 19 2011

A few Lamont proposals over the past several months have required some extra steps because they involved research on human subjects and required a signoff on research protocols. Legal protections of human subjects, in any country, are rigorous and apply to a wide range of potential research. Columbia maintains an Institutional Review Board (IRB), which is charged with the review and approval of protocols. There is a website ( with FAQs and other guidance. In addition, Bev is organizing an information session with representatives of the IRB, to be held soon after the start of the fall semester. Point of clarification: Lamont Research Professors do not need waivers to request IRB approval. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 12 2011

No, we're not installing Time Warner or Cablevision. Those cable reels you see being offloaded on the driveway to the warehouse/instrument lab are hydrophone streamers for the Langseth. Sean Higgins and his crew in Marine Ops had been keeping their ears to the ground and found a company willing to donate these critical components for the cost of shipping. These reels are the reason why we have been cleaning out the warehouse over the past few months, not a small task. Congrats to Tom Eberhard, Pat O'Reilly, and their crews - and all of you who pitched in - for actually getting this done. For a while there, you could see the floor of the warehouse. It'll be full again soon enough, so forget your dreams of an indoor basketball court. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 5 2011

Our summer interns celebrated the completion of their program this week, with short presentations, a poster session, and a barbeque on the Comer deck. This was the 22nd year of the internship program in its current configuration, with Dallas Abbott in the lead. The program has evolved to include lectures on research methods and ethics, in addition to the usual menu of science entrees, and it should be recognized as one of the leading earth science intern programs in the country. This year, with the help of our Development team, we invited the parents of the interns and intern alumni to participate in last-day activities. One of the parents, a professor at a well-known college with an outstanding reputation, remarked on the excellence of our program and the enthusiasm of interns and mentors alike. Agreed! 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 29, 2011

The chaos on Capitol Hill should remind us that we're not insulated from the national discussion (if you could call it that - I have doubts) on when and how we should invest in our future. The old maxim that we can't apply science unless the science is there to apply holds more than ever. So we continue to track the budget bills in Congress in as much detail as we can. The House started the process and, not surprisingly, set a low target for federal agency funding.

Lamont Weekly Report, July 22, 2011

Kim Martineau and David Funkhouser, with input from Maya Tolstoy and Jim Gaherty, organized a TV Media training workshop on Tuesday. I wasn't able to attend, but I heard it went well. (I was visiting some of our donors in their Park Avenue offices that morning. It's a parallel universe, but that's a tale for another time.) Given the importance of our science to public discourse and the frequent need to respond to press inquiries, we should be supportive of our media team's efforts to help us deliver our message appropriately, and professionally, to various audiences, and through traditional and "new media" outlets. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 15, 2011

I had a smooth, non-turbulent flight back from Beijing on Monday, after an interesting 2-day conference on sustainability at Renmin (People's) University. The link between China's economic growth and CO2 is indisputable, but at least China's latest 5-year plan (the twelfth) is trying to "bend the curve," so to speak. Reality has set in, though. Fleets of bicycles have given way to electric scooters, and private cars have taken over the ring roads. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 8, 2011

I’m traveling once again, so this will be brief:

Several of us went down to NSF on Wednesday to go over some of the final details of the Langseth Business Systems Review (BSR). It was a good set of meetings, and we left feeling confident about the upcoming panel review of our response to the BSR, scheduled for early September. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 1, 2011

I missed the delivery cutoff for last week’s report owing to turbulence, flying food carts (tossed salad and tossed flight attendants), a broken Boeing, an unexpected landing in Beijing, and a dicey internet connection. No injuries, but there were some chuckles as business class deplaned with more than a few wine stains on their shirts. Continental found replacement parts at the Capital Airport and we were back in the air about 20 hours later. Stuff happens, but I have to play catch up in this week’s report. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 17, 2011

I spent a couple of days this week in Amsterdam attending meetings of several IODP governing committees, along with Dave Goldberg and Mo Raymo (whose official starting date at Lamont was Wednesday). The meetings ended with a press conference highlighting the release of the IODP Science plan for 2013-2023, available at and worth reading. The breadth of science dependent on a robust ocean drilling program is significant, notwithstanding the challenges inherent in keeping two drill ships and other platforms at sea. The overlap with the science done at Lamont is substantial, and future NSF support is essential. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 10, 2011

Sunday in the Park with Lamonters:

The World Science Festival landed in Washington Square Park last Sunday, with Lamont providing exhibits, literature, and enthusiastic staffing. Our participation was organized by Stacey Vasallo and Erika Freimuth with additional leadership from Margie Turrin and Jill Van Tongren. The WSF, conceived by Brian Greene, has been a terrific experiment in linking science, the arts, exhibits and lectures, all in service to increasing public awareness of science, scientists, and local institutions. It draws huge crowds across a range of venues; we'll be looking at expanding our opportunities to participate in next year's festival. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 3, 2011

Memorial Day:

A short week, beginning with an untold number of backyard barbecues and the ingestion of great-tasting carcinogens. The unofficial kick-off of summer sometimes obscures a greater message: the recognition that our lives and prosperity are built on the sacrifices of neighbors and friends, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers. Some of our colleagues here at Lamont are veterans, and others may have felt immeasurable loss. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 27, 2011

Hope springs eternal:

Won-Young Kim was cleaning up his space in seismology and found a brochure for a new "Seismology, Geology and Tectonophysics Building"to accommodate "a pressing need to bring together the over 100 scientists, engineers, graduate students and technicians" needed for a new earthquake engineering research center.  That center was NCEER (now
MCEER), which dates the brochure to ca. 1986. The building was to be built on the site where the OBS lab is now, and was designed to complement the Geoscience building, creating a "quad" on that part of the campus. Lamont Weekly Report, May 20, 2011

Better late than never:

Paraphrasing a memo dated 20 October, 2009, from the USGS Geographic Names Information System, which appeared mysteriously in my in-box: As a result of a science cruise on the R/V Gould in January 2009, an island 900 m long and 224 m high off the Antarctic Peninsula at 68 deg 36' 16" S and 71 deg 58' 38" W is named Martinson Island by the "US Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names after Douglas G. Martinson, the expedition leader and project co-Principal Investigator." 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 13, 2011

Mark's diaries:

We received a lovely letter from Lillian Langseth about a month ago letting us know that she had Mark's diaries and wanted to donate them to Columbia's Rare Book and Manuscript Library.  From Lillian's letter:

"Marcus had a life long habit of writing down many things about his daily activities, some somewhat personal but mostly about his thoughts and ideas of the day. A large portion of these writings were in hard cover school notebooks. The collection relative to Lamont started in 1953 when he first came to Lamont as a summer intern working for Jack Oliver." 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 6, 2011

Martin Visbeck and some of his colleagues from Kiel spent this morning at Lamont, to discuss possible collaborations in ocean sciences. Martin is heading up an effort called "Future Oceans," one of Germany's "Excellence Clusters." The idea is to try to institutionalize some of the basic arrangements so that peer-to-peer research collaborations and scholarly exchanges can take place without too much administrative hassle. There is very good potential here, and I'll be working with the Associate Directors and folks at the Earth Institute to get this off the ground. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 29, 2011

There's a scene in the original Disney animated version of Snow White; our heroine is lost in a dark forest, panics, and faints. All the cute forest critters come out to investigate and ultimately comfort her. (What can I say? The movie came out in 1937.) That scene, which at the time was a marvel of animation, comes to mind as I try to avoid being distracted by all the wildlife romping around outside my office window. It being springtime, and animals being animals, this is not your grandparents' Disney movie. The only individual left out of the action is that bumptious tom turkey, who is still alone, wandering around in vain. Nice feathers, though. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 22, 2011

Congratulations to Robin Bell and Ed Cook, who have just been named AGU Fellows, a well-deserved honor signifying great professional achievement. We'll celebrate appropriately as soon as Ed gets back from his latest adventure. Plan on attending the next AGU awards ceremony; a prize will go to the Lamonter who comes closest to guessing which T-shirt Ed will wear.

Yet another honor: Tatiana Rautian was awarded the Reid Medal last week at the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America.

Lamont Weekly Report, April 8, 2011

The week began with two days of meetings in College Station on the future of ocean drilling. This was an opportunity for me to spin up on some of these issues, to meet some of the leadership of IODP facilities, and to reconnect with a long-time colleague, Kate Miller, who is now TAMU's Dean of the College of Geosciences. Like all major facilities
and science programs, IODP is being examined from scientific and management perspectives. If you're asked or are interested, get involved in the discussion. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 1, 2011

The week actually started on Sunday with a lunchtime meeting of the Lamont Alumni Board followed by our third public lecture of the season. We varied the format this time with Andy Juhl and Greg O'Mullen, of BPE, and John Lipscomb, from Riverkeeper, providing a panel discussion on pollution in the Hudson River. This topic drew an overflow crowd, and
they got to hear how sound environmental science strengthens environmental advocacy. My thanks to Andy, Greg and John for putting this together. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 25, 2011

One wouldn't know it from the snow we had earlier this week, but spring has finally sprung. A rafter of oven-sized turkeys strolled by my office last evening. The hens were pecking away at morsels on the ground, while a well-endowed tom (with a very big and colorful wattle) strutted behind, with his tail spread and feathers puffed out. The hens either ignored him or danced away. I went outside to take his picture, but he ran away. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 19, 2011

It was a hectic week, but it ended spectacularly on a beautiful day with our celebration of Taro Takahashi's 80th birthday. Taro is one of those colleagues for whom it is easy to express our affection, and it showed in the speeches and tributes. There is not a better manifestation of the community that defines Lamont than when we get together to honor one of our own. Congratulations, Taro, and may there be many more parties in your honor. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 11, 2011

We received word yesterday from the Advisory Committee on Undersea Features that the US Board on Geographic Names has "approved the name 'Diebold Knoll' for the undersea feature at 43 deg 53 min N, 126 deg 10 min W," off the coast of central Oregon. Our colleagues Sandy Shor and Anne Trehu, as well as several folks here at Lamont, helped guide the naming request through the appropriate committees. This is a fitting memorial to John, and it will be a reminder to future generations of oceanographers of the inestimable contributions made by one of our own. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 4, 2011

A full week, with meetings both here in Palisades and on the Morningside campus. Bev and I discovered one of the pitfalls of modern office management when we discovered that we were looking at different versions of my calendar on the server. So, if any of you expected me to show up but I was AWOL, my apologies. It's fixed now.

As we assemble the Observatory's budget for next year, we are paying particular attention to space planning. Several of our divisions are expecting significant numbers of new students and post-docs - a good thing! - and we want to make sure that we can accommodate them. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 25, 2011

We are watching the federal budget process very closely. As you probably know, the federal agencies that provide the bulk of our extramural funding have been operating under a Continuing Resolution absent passage of the FY11 appropriations bills last September. The existing CR set spending at FY10 levels, and must be renewed by next Friday. The CR renewal bill (H.R. 1) was passed in the House of Representatives early last Saturday, and will probably be changed in the Senate. Among the features of H.R. 1 that we are monitoring are the funding levels for the science agencies in the current fiscal year, which ends on September 30, 2011. Several amendments to the bill clearly are targeted at reducing spending on programs important to our work. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 18, 2011

As someone who thinks Saturday Night Live reached its apotheosis when Lorne Michaels offered the Beatles $3,000 to reunite on his show, it was a bit of a chore to sit down last Saturday night and wait for the promised appearance of a Lamont icon. I'm talking, of course, about one of our classic Sprengnether smoked paper seismographs, which appeared in a skit entitled "A Spot of Tea" just after the Weekend Update segment. Our instrument just about ate the scenery, as the saying goes. As I expected, Belushi, Aykroyd, Radner et al need not fear competition from the present SNL cohort. Kudos to John Armbruster for training the prop masters at 30 Rock to be seismologists for an evening. I hope he got cast autographs on the smoked paper. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 13, 2011

In the 1966 sci-fi classic "Fantastic Voyage," an intrepid team of tiny scientists entered a comatose colleague's body via his bloodstream to search for and destroy a blood clot in his brain. I've spent the last week in meetings here and on Morningside begin carried along in the University's circulatory system trying to understand its neurology. There are some clots, but not as many as one would think. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 4, 2011

Monday, 31 January: Driving down the PIP after work, I hit a pothole. My front tire doesn't go flat; it actually breaks. New tire on backorder.  Tuesday, 1 February, Day 1 of the interim: Pat O'Reilly calls me at 6AM to tell me that the buses can probably run, and that I would lose credibility if I declared a snow day. We decide to stay open.

Wednesday, 2 February, Day 2 of the interim: The heck with credibility; the sidewalks are too slippery for safe walking. Pat recommends a delayed opening and we call it. Then, a water main breaks on campus. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 28, 2011

I flew out to Seoul, South Korea last Saturday for the annual mtg of the global ocean institution directors - there were 28 there - from China, South Africa, Brazil as well as the usual suspects from the UK and Europe, and of course Scripps, Woods Hole and Hawaii.  It was a worthwhile meeting though I have to admit that there were no earth-shaking conclusions.  We heard presentations from the new head of the UN Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) - Wendy Watson Wright - who promised (as have several of her predecessors) to breath new life into this bureaucratic UNESCO entity. The one positive note however: despite everyone's grumbling about funding shortages, the reality is that the number of 'permanent' ocean observation stations around the globe is steadily on the rise. Certainly compared with ten years ago one can claim that truly substantial progress has been made. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 21, 2011

Thanks to the skill and hard work of Sean Higgins and his team in the Marine Office, the shipyard work ongoing in San Francisco on Langseth is proceeding extremely well. Completing shipyard work on schedule is generally unheard of, but we seem close to achieving this incredible feat, thanks to close and careful management. She will sail back south to the warmer climes of the Scripps facility in San Diego to complete the remainder of the maintenance work. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 14, 2011

Second-guessing decisions about snow closures is always a tiresome business, but I always do it.  Given the way it turned out we could probably have opened earlier than noon on Wednesday. Dick Greco and his crew did their usual remarkable job of clearing our roads and sidewalks, so when I came in at around 11 the campus was already in
great shape. Too much snow already this year. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 7, 2011

The world lost one of the giants of seismology on Wednesday: Jack Oliver passed away quietly at his home in Ithaca after a long battle with cancer. He left Lamont a long time ago - 1971 in fact - he was Chair of the Department at the time, but he did some of his most pioneering work here in the sixties, helping to lay several of the important foundation stones of plate tectonics. Details of services etc are appended at the end of this report. An obituary will go up on our web
site momentarily.  A sad day - he was a great man. 




Lamont Weekly Report, December 17, 2010

I came out to San Francisco on Sunday morning, in time for the UNOLS Langseth Oversight Committee meeting in the afternoon, and have been essentially bouncing from one meeting room to another since then. AGU claims approximately 19000 attendees this year - and it feels like it. There is clearly a lot of great Lamont science here - with Kevin Krajick and David Funkhouser both working hard to get it recognized and reported upon in the public media. And of course a particular highlight for us is the awarding of the highly prestigious Harry Hess AGU Medal to our own Dave Walker. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 10, 2010

The week before AGU is generally frantic, but this year it is even more so. I fly out at the crack of dawn on Sunday.
It was great to see so many Lamonters at the EI Holiday party on Tuesday - rather unexpectedly (to tell you the truth) that turned out to be a lot of fun!

We entertained (very successfully) the Board of Directors of the Tinker Foundation on Wednesday morning - the highlight being Robin Bell's presentation about her work in Antarctica. And on Wednesday afternoon we held one of our regular meetings with our Advisory Board.  Although it was a routine meeting it was for me a real landmark - we had 22 folks in the room for a really active and energetic agenda afternoon-long.  We have come so far from where we were a 2-3 years ago, when we were hard pressed to get attendance from more than 6 or 8.  At the meeting we received a pledge from one of the members for a $100K gift towards the Comer Ultra Clean Lab - a clear sign of the health and effectiveness of this group. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 6, 2010

Lamont's new Assistant Director for Large Programs and Compliance began work on Wednesday - Glenn Gordian will occupy an office on the ground floor of the Admin Building and will be singularly focused in his early months here upon helping us with the response to the NSF Business Systems Review of the Office of Marine Operations. Glenn comes to us with tremendous knowledge of Government contracting but with little previous experience in academia, so I hope everyone will help Glenn adjust to our somewhat contrasting culture! 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 19, 2010

CU is carrying out a major review of it's fringe benefit programs. The review is being conducted by a Task Force composed of faculty and administrators from all across the University and, as a part of the review, the Task Force is conducting a survey to gain a better sense of what the community thinks is important in this arena. The survey is
being carried out by an outside consulting group and considerable effort has gone into its design. The outcome of this review will be highly dependent upon the nature of the responses to this survey.  I will not deceive you - it will take more than five minutes to complete - quite a lot more - but it is a carefully designed questionnaire designed to have real impact on the outcomes. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November12, 2010

Two days of this week were spent downtown in back-to-back meetings - very efficient from a scheduling point-of-view and a testament to Bev's abilities to use my time wisely, but still it seems odd driving away from my office at 730am in the morning to start the days work shuttling from one meeting room to another in the Low Library, the Faculty House, Hogan Hall, Schermerhorn and Lerner.  Not even the free food makes up for it! 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 5, 2010

November 5th is an important date in England - Bonfire Night - an odd tradition recognizing the night in 1605 when an extremist by the name of Guy Fawkes succeeded in loading lots of gunpowder into the cellars of the Houses of Parliament with the intent of doing away with a large part of the government. For reasons I have always failed to understand it is celebrated nationwide in England to this day with bonfires and fireworks - burning effigies of poor old Guy - quite bizarre really. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 22, 2010

I got back from San Diego on Wednesday night after three days of Langseth meetings with NSF and UNOLS.  It was great to be on board the ship again -  though only very briefly. She was in good shape, and will be even better after the planned shipyard and maintenance period. On Monday evening NSF ran the first of a number of public hearings on the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement that they are preparing (jointly with USGS) - dealing with the issues surrounding the interactions between marine mammals and the various types of sound used in marine geophysical surveys. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 22, 2010

Another meeting-filled week - 8-10 per day Monday through Wednesday - highlights running the gamut between finalizing decisions about the science writer to replace Kim Martineau, to entertaining the new Executive Director of AGU Chris McEntee on Wednesday afternoon. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 15, 2010

We fulfilled our neighborly responsibilities and hosted the Nyack Hospital for a wonderful event last Saturday night - a very plush evening - and I made one new contact that may be helpful to us. The whole thing was far more opulent than we are used to: valet parking, catered by Restaurant X, two (very loud) bands and luxurious bathrooms on a semi trailer like I have never seen before! 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 8, 2010

Open House last Saturday was an unparalleled success. We were, of course, incredibly lucky with the weather - a beautiful cool sunny day, after days of torrential rain. The head count, which this year I am assured is precise and reliable, was 3104.  And one of those folks was our Congressman  - Eliot Engel - who stayed for about an hour and has since followed up with us with questions about some of the exhibits that he visited. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 1, 2010

The big news this week is that on Tuesday the National Research Council (NRC) released its decadal assessment of the 140 Earth Science Ph.D. programs in the US - and we came out at the top!  What could be better than that?  Especially since the data used for the analysis was from 05-06 and there is no question that we are stronger today than we were back then. We have always said that we are one of the best in the nation, and now the National Research Council is saying so as well! If you want to see more details, go to : and click on "larger programs" and then on "Rank Programs". 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 24, 2010

t will be a short report today, because I am focused on the event this afternoon to honor our great friend John Diebold.  I am gladdened by the outpouring of love and respect from his friends from all over the world - we are still receiving fabulous accounts of his exploits and achievements from friends and colleagues. I hope that what we have planned  honors him as he deserves. We co-ordinated the spreading of his ashes in the middle of the Pacific from our research vessel, Langseth, with the start of the event this afternoon. (Langseth is on her way to San Diego from Honolulu). 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 17, 2010

I attended John Diebold's Memorial service organized by his family in Nyack on Sunday afternoon.  It was an event befitting John's greatness of character - with wonderful remembrances, incredible photographs and beautiful music. It was very moving - in fact tough to get through with composure - I had to leave quickly at the end - just too much hurt.  As I hope you all know we will have our own John Diebold event this coming Friday - September 24th 1:30pm in the Monell Building - the program is on our web page.  We will celebrate his science and his many irreplaceable contributions to Lamont. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 10, 2010

There were just too many things all happening at once this week.  We had a good telephone conference call with ten members of our Advisory Board on Tuesday, refining our planning for the forthcoming (and 'new') Director's Circle Development event on September 25th as well as discussing plans and opportunities for our Open House the following week on October 2nd.  A large part of Wednesday was also spent on Development activities - we went up to Greenwich CT where post doc Tim Creyts gave a great presentation to a large group of local retirees before 'retiring' to the yacht Club for a very pleasant lunch, but more importantly, lots of interesting and provocative conversation that I hope has won some new friends for the Observatory. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 3, 2010

It has been a tough week - I thought it was going to be quiet - lots of folks away for the last week of summer, and that has been true - but nevertheless there has been just one crisis after another. I was going to spend a few days in the Adirondacks but had to come home early. I am very glad for the 3 day weekend before us - especially after Earle gets out of the way and the humidity drops. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 27, 2010

I was down in DC for a day, wearing my Consortium for Ocean Leadership hat, sitting in on the first NSF review of the Ocean Observatories Initiative Operations and Maintenance activity. It was really just a review of planning and budgeting since it will be a few years before any assets are actually deployed, but it was indicative of the microscopic scrutiny that large NSF projects are receiving in the current DC climate of heightened accountability and mistrust. It was depressing to see the magnitude of the effort that went into preparing for this review on the part of the Implementing Organizations, Scripps, WHOI, UW and OSU. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 13, 2010

I have been out of the office all week, enjoying the sunshine, dry air and cool evenings of coastal Maine. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 6 2010

It has been a tough week. Last weekend we received the tragic news from the Langseth (working on the Shatsky Rise in the Western Pacific) that one of our Marine Mammal Observers, John Nicholas, had died of a heart attack.  A very sad day.  The vessel immediately diverted for the closest port - a five-day steam to Yokohama Japan. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 30 2010

I spent Monday in meetings with leadership of the National Math and Science initiative (NMSI) - a very successful NGO that is committed to improving the quality of math and science education at grade school levels.  A very successful and productive day - that we hope will lead to some more tangible and significant partnerships between CU and NMSI. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 23 2010

It feels like it has been a quiet week, but looking at my diary I see I have participated in 22 different meetings and appointments, so it could not have been that quiet.

As no doubt many of you have heard we are losing a number of very important 'Friends of Lamont' from the senior administration within CU over the coming months: David Hirsh EVP for Research, Henry Pinkham, Dean of GSAS and Richie Ruttenberg, Deputy Controller.  All have been valuable friends to us in recent years and we will miss their assistance and strong support. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 16 2010

We have settled upon Friday, September 24th for the event to recognize the life and science John Diebold. We are preparing formal invitations and will circulate widely as soon as possible.  It will be in the Monell Auditorium from 1:30pm til 4:30pm with a reception to follow. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 9, 2010

I have been receiving emails all this week from all over the US and from around the world from folks expressing their feelings about the sad news of John Diebold's passing. (We are posting a small selection of these on the web). All the thoughts that we had of him being a very special man are confirmed again and again by the outpourings of warmth and affection. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 2, 2010

I met John Diebold in the middle seventies, the time when he, along with Paul Stoffa and Peter Buhl and several others were convincing the world that all seismic structure problems could be solved with big airgun arrays, long hydrophone streamers, expanding spread profiles and tau-p space. At the time I remained conservatively entrenched in the old school of marine seismology, espousing the superior signal-to-noise ratios available when 500 pound charges of TNT were detonated. We shared a cabin for two months in 1979 aboard the Conrad in the Eastern Pacific during the ill-fated ROSE experiment and had many discussions about the pros and cons of various approaches to marine seismics. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 25 2010

We were visited by the CU Treasurer and more than ten of her staff onTuesday afternoon - thanks to all who helped host this group.  Theylook after all of CU's "treasure" and therefore are an importantgroup with whom to be friends!  As is so often the case, many of the folks had never been out to Lamont before so it was an important opportunity for us to impress them with the importance of the work that we do here. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 18 2010

If there is one problem that never goes away - it is the problem of space. There is never enough of it, and on the rare occasion that thereis, then it is in the wrong place.  It is very healthy that we arealways feeling space pressure because it means that we are growing - bringing in new resources - and as the ~$16M that we (or more correctly you - the PIs) won in federal stimulus grants this year beginsto get spent (i.e. new people hired) the pressure to find space to put them grows.  I had several meetings this week focused upon trying to solve specific problems - and there will be more in the coming weeks and months. One good piece of news on this front is that the competitive process to select the architect and construction manager for the New Core Lab renovation project is complete and so, finally, we are a few weeks away from finishing off the award negotiations with NSF. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 11 2010

We held another highly successful meeting of the Executive Committee of our Advisory Board meeting on Wednesday afternoon - with star speakers Terry Plank talking about the unpronounceable Iceland volcano, and Stefan Mrozewski from the Borehole Research Group providing a balanced (and comprehensible) view of what is going on in the Gulf of Mexico. The Advisory Board is really coming of age - it is becoming more and more effective with every meeting, contributing more resources to the support of the Observatory and playing a critical role in our fund raising campaigns.  Our major topic of discussion on Wednesday was planning for a major event in late September targeted at attracting a significant increase in membership of the Board - as our visibility on the public stage improves, it is time to try for a significant growth spurt. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 4 2010

What can I say?  I have never been... 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 28 2010

The week was consumed by the annual marathon session with the Associate Directors on Tuesday and Wednesday, finalizing the merit review process for all the research Staff.  As always this was a grueling task - looking at everyone's accomplishments one-by-one - but important and it is always enlightening.  I just wish that the pool of funds for raises was more than the measly 2 per cent that is in fact available.  I understand full well that especially after the essential non-existence of raises last year, that this is a hard pill to swallow.  It has to get better next year. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 21, 2010

We held the seventh annual Mentoring Award event earlier this afternoon - there were seven excellent nominees for the award - all of whom deserve recognition and thanks for the positive impact they have on the Observatory.  The nominees were Nick Christie-Blick, Ed Cook, Sid Hemming, Juerg Matter, Naomi Naik, Adam Sobel and Maya Tolstoy. The selection Committee chaired by Chris Zappa had a tough time selecting one awardee from this list of great nominees, but as those of you who attended the ceremony this afternoon already know - this year's awardee was Adam Sobel of the Ocean and Climate Physics Division. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 14, 2010

I hope everyone saw Chris Zappa's recent announcement about this year's Mentoring Award - many congratulations to all the excellent nominees.  Please join us (a week today) for the ceremony at which this year's awardee will be identified - 4pm Friday 21st May in the Monell Auditorium - reception to follow. A cash prize of $2000 comes along with the certificate of recognition - so it is a big deal!! 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 7, 2010

ExCom this morning turned into a marathon, lasting almost three hours.

Three new appointments as DARS were considered and discussion topics ranged from addressing the neglected issue of the important role that Project Scientists play in the Observatory to consideration of new formal policies to improve the quality of mentoring that we provide for post docs. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 30, 2010

onathan Cole (ex Provost of CU) stopped by Lamont briefly on Wednesday - it was great to see him again and talk about his recently published book on the great American research universities. I continue to try to get him to come here and give a talk about this.

Wednesday night Allied Bernstein (the investment banking company) hosted a development event for us at their headquarters in mid-town - Peter Kelemen and Peter deMenocal were the stars - they again did a great job of engaging non-climate scientists (who are important decision-makers) in insightful discussions about the future of our planet. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 23, 2010

It has been a very busy week - nine different appointments in my diary for today - but at least they were all here at Lamont. Yesterday I had to make two separate trips downtown - the first was for the annual formal budget presentation with the Provost (which is always so much fun), and the second was for the last EI Faculty meeting of the academic year - at which the keynote speaker was... the Provost. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 16, 2010

The Monell Auditorium was essentially full last Sunday afternoon for our annual alumni lecture, that followed a lunch to honor many of Lamont's good friends and supporters. Jerry McManus was the speaker and he did a superb job of educating the highly diverse audience on the intricacies of ocean currents and climate change.  This Sunday Gisela Winckler will have the stage for her talk that is titled "Dust in the Wind: Dust, Stardust and Earth's Climate System". 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 9, 2010

while simultaneously grappling with the realities of getting our research vessel, Langseth, out of the shipyard in Portland Oregon and through all the necessary Coast Guard inspections so she can sail west across the Pacific to begin her 2010 field season. Ship operations are such a joy...

It is our Alumni Spring Pubic Lecture this Sunday - Jerry McManus is giving a talk with the acutely alliterative title  - Currents, Conveyors and Climate Change. This is very timely in many ways - because a week today we celebrate 50 years as a DEES Professor for the father of the conveyor belt idea - Wally Broecker. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 2, 2010

I think we all are aware of the identity of the innovative individual responsible for developing and posting the highly believable notices around the campus yesterday announcing Lamont's new  Electric Vehicle Plug-in program. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 26, 2010

Busy week with the huge 'State of the Planet' conference going on down town, as well as the formal 'kick-off' meeting with Program Managers from NIST marking the start of the project to construct the worlds largest and most capable ultra clean lab for Geochemistry in the Comer Building. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 19, 2010

Many Lamonters have had a very tough week, living without power at home for several days, and in some cases sustaining damage to their houses or cars from falling trees. I hope everyone is back to normal now.  On the Campus we owe a great debt of gratitude to our grounds crew for keeping our generators going throughout the outage from
Saturday afternoon to Tuesday night, and for all the cleanup that has been necessary. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 15, 2010

One too many 14 hour days this week, so more than usual, I am glad it is Friday.

There was a highly successful and very well-attended Lamont Advisory Board meeting on Wednesday afternoon. Aside from great science presentations by Tim Creyts, Art Lerner Lam, Adam Sobel and Mike Steckler, we had Cecilia McHugh and Nano Seeber on the phone, live, from the research vessel Endeavor, working offshore Haiti. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 5, 2010

The February 22nd issue of the Columbia record finally made it to the top of my pile and who should be on the front page but a very peaceful-looking Steve Goldstein - many congratulations Steve - he won one of the seven University-wide Lenfest Distinguished Faculty Awards - in recognition of his exceptional teaching and mentoring skills. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 26, 2010

It was a week full of meetings - probably five or more every day - until the snow brought everything to a grinding halt on Thursday. Truly a grinding halt - I ended up in the Oceanography parking lot at 515pm on Thursday evening with Pat O'Reilly trying to dig our skidding cars out of the thick snow. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 19, 2010

It snowed in Charleston SC while I was there last weekend visiting the grandchildren - it was quite a phenomenon down there - I have never seen so many abandoned vehicles, even though within a day it was all melted and temperatures were back in the 50's! Driving home on Monday, 800 miles in less than 12 hours in a rented minivan full of people all related to me in ways both vague and specific, but all less than half my age - was an education. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 12, 2010

hope everyone made it through the snow storm on Wednesday without too much difficulty or inconvenience - it was a difficult decision to decide to close Lamont, but as the forecast proved to be accurate, it was, this time at least, the right call. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 5, 2010

Too many meetings about the impossible problem of space this week - not that we do not have enough of it, just that what we have is never quite located in the right place... Our successes in tapping into the Federal Stimulus funds now mean we have to find growth space for a number of our research groups - it is indeed a good problem to have. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 29, 2010

The temperature right now here in Moscow is minus 8 degrees Fahrenheit. It is predicted to rise to 3 degrees in the middle of the day, so folks are generally pleased that the 'cold snap' is coming to an end!!  I am here for a three day meeting of the heads of the major ocean institutions around the world, an annual event that rotates around the big ocean centers. (The host here is the Shirshov Institute of Oceanology.)  It is a rare opportunity to talk with ocean leadership from everywhere from Australia to South Africa, including Spain, Germany, France, UK, Korea, China, Japan etc. etc. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 15, 2010

The Haitian earthquake was a perfectly normal and natural (and not unexpected) event, but the magnitude of the human suffering that it has caused brings sadness to us all. A sadness that is offset just a little by the joyous news that CIESIN's Marc Levy and Andy Fischer, who were working with the UN in Port au Prince, came safely home yesterday. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 8, 2010

Since I have been Director, I have not started a New Year with such prospects for activity and change in so many different areas of the institution. Although essentially all of this is good, change inevitably brings a lot of work and many tough decisions. This time next year many things will be different. My relatively robust predictions for the New Year include: 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 25, 2009

I was one of the lucky ones that made it back from San Francisco on schedule - many folks did not, because of the snow.  Every time it snows in winter the national air traffic control system seems to be surprised. I think this may provide some insight into the (much more profound) problem we seem to have in convincing folks that climate change is real. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 18, 2009

t has been a crazy week in San Francisco - so many sessions and meetings get scheduled on top of one another - so it is inevitable that I miss about as many important events as I am able to attend.  But I did manage to make it to a few science sessions - oral and postal - and needless to say, saw many Lamonters.

The Alumni Association reception on Tuesday evening followed a good meeting of the Board, and was well attended despite the financial cost associated with consumption of alcohol. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 11, 2009

The British-based Tipping Point Group, hosted by the Columbia Climate Center, ran an unusual but very interesting event here last Sunday and Monday. It was invitation only I'm afraid which is why it was not widely publicized, but it was targeted at bringing the art world and the climate science world together - trying to catalyze interactions that would stimulate the creation of new art targeted at communicating climate science in new and unique ways. I attended only a few hours myself - but it was a very well-organized activity and included a very posh reception at the British Consul General's penthouse residence downtown on Monday night. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 4, 2009

I spent Wednesday and Thursday in College Station, Texas meeting with NSF leadership about the future of the ocean drilling program (ODP) - it was colder in Houston and College Station than it was in New York - much to my surprise.  Believe it or not ODP is up for renewal again in 2013 so already it is time to start thinking about plans and strategies.
We had dinner at the Dean's house (Kate Miller) on Wednesday night and who should turn up but Andy Fisher and Keir Becker - had not seen either of them for a couple of years - good to catch up. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 27, 2009

I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving, and is not regretting too much the excessive calorie consumption that is a typical characteristic of this uniquely American celebration. My desire to maintain contact with my long-lost Northern England heritage resulted in me persuading the 'powers-that-be' in my household to make Yorkshire Puddings for me this year. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 20, 2009

Barb Charbonnet and I had a very pleasant lunch with the leadership of the Vetlesen Foundation on Wednesday - providing our annual report of progress and accomplishments, which was received positively (thank goodness!). However, their views (from their "Wall Street" perspective) on the financial future at a national level were depressingly negative - I hope in this case their pessimism is unfounded. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 13, 2009

I am very pleased to report that, following a formal mail ballot by the Senior Staff, Lorenzo Polvani of SEAS/APAM and A&S/DEES will be joining LDEO formally effective 1st December, as a member of our Senior Staff. We all hope that Lorenzo's close involvement in our atmospheric research efforts will continue to grow - especially as our emphasis in this area increases with the forthcoming new appointments to the DEES faculty. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 6, 2009

We received a second piece of good news this week - from NIST to whom we submitted a $1.5M proposal for Federal Stimulus funds to complete the ultra clean lab in Comer - we have reached the second round of the review process in this competition too. So there will be a lot of crossed fingers around here over the next few weeks. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 30, 2009

We ran a Development event on Monday afternoon for a small group of folks from the affluent village of Alpine NJ - thanks to Robin Bell and Margie Turrin for sharing their enthusiasm about Antarctica and all things cold and icy in such an interesting and engaging way. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 23, 2009

We made another step towards the final implementation of the Research Professor positions at an important meeting with representatives of the CU Controller and Research Compliance offices on Monday. Our plans for the transition years, during which folks move from 12 month positions to 9 month positions, are complex from an effort reporting perspective - but the startegy that we had worked out with ExCom was found to be without flaws.  So one more hurdle has been crossed.

Columbia University, at the highest levels, is engaged in a 're-branding' initiative and is requiring that all Schools move away from their own logos and identity, and adopt a uniform 'look' in which Columbia University itself is clear and prominent. The new CU-approved Lamont identity can be found at, and downloaded from: So, from now on, this is what you should be using on your powerpoints or whatever. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 16, 2009

A brief welcoming presentation to a group of representatives from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (hosted by Bob Chen), followed by an EI Climate Center Steering Committee meeting and a meeting of the Executive Committee of the EI Faculty pretty much consumed Monday. And first thing Tuesday I was off to DC for four days of Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) and Ocean Leadership meetings. The report on these discussions will constitute the bulk of the report
this week, so if you are not interested in either, skip to the end! (Because the last paragraph is REALLY important).

The point to emphasize about OOI - is that it is happening! And it is happening on a scale that we in the ocean sciences business have never seen before. The cooperative agreement between NSF and Ocean Leadership for this program is over $750M (yes, three quarters of a billion dollars) over several years. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 9, 2009

eff Sachs spent the day on the Lamont Campus on Monday, meeting for two hours with the LDEO ExCom in the morning and then visiting with the leadership of IRI, CIESIN and Tropical Agriculture through the afternoon. This presented a much-welcomed opportunity to engage Jeff in our research goals and resulted in some excellent discussions.

It was great to see Lamont alumnus John Hall on Tuesday and hear his intriguing stories of the development of a hovercraft for research in the ice-covered Arctic Ocean. This was an all-too-rare-example of very high-risk innovation in approaches to data collection - a characteristic of our research world that has almost disappeared to zero (but thankfully not quite) since the demise of ONR funding for blue water ocean science. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 2, 2009

I flew into Houston last Sunday night in order to enjoy the two hour drive across the Texas outback to the metropolis of College Station, where I spent Monday in discussions with Texas A&M leadership about the future of the Ocean Drilling Program. It is rare on a one-day visit to any university to be privileged to have separate meetings with the President, the Provost, the VP for Research and the Dean of Geosciences, but that is what happened last Monday. A&M's commitment to the future of ocean drilling cannot be questioned. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 25, 2009

There was a great talk this afternoon - this year's 'Science of Diversity' talk at the regular colloquium - Meg Urry, the Chair of the Physics department at Yale did a superb job of reviewing the issues that cause there to be so few women in research science. This was a welcome intellectual break from a marathon ExCom this morning and a DEES Faculty meeting (attended by Arts and Sciences VP Nick Dirks) this afternoon. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 18, 2009

Last Saturday was the Annual Meeting of the New York Marine Sciences Consortium - Wade McGillis attended as our representative on the Board of Governors.  This is a relatively new organization that was established to increase the visibility of the importance of marine science research at the NY state level.  It is unfortunate that its formation coincided with the financial crisis so growth has been slower than we had hoped.  But it is in its early days.

Lamont/Columbia is one of the founding members and we sit on the Executive committee, so I am hoping that we can play a meaningful role going forward.  If you would like to play a larger role, check out the website - - and in particular add your profile by clicking on the 'Directory' button on the Home page and downloading their form. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 11, 2009

Our Marine Operations group is undergoing a routine "Business Systems Review" by NSF - a process that will take 6-9 months to complete, but that was begun this week with three days of meetings with NSF representatives. This is one more example of the ever-increasing oversight on management and expenditure of federal dollars that is being imposed from DC. We have to show that we have all the checks and balances in place to insure that we are doing a thorough and careful job of spending the taxpayers money according to federally-mandated policies. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 4, 2009

This week was not as quiet and uneventful as I expected it to be - lots of activities ramping up for the new academic year - not least of which is the arrival of a new cohort of students - a total of 54, I think - 15 PhD students, 38 Climate and Society and one Earth and Environmental Science Journalism. I met with them briefly on Wednesday - they filled every seat in the Comer Seminar room.  Meeting with them was a great way to start the new year. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 28, 2009

I spent a few idyllic days up north in the Adirondacks at the beginning of the week - discovering the profound limitations of Verizon's published coverage charts and the remarkably tiny spatial scales upon which cell phone signal strengths vary dramatically - tens of meters in places!

But more importantly - our final proposal to the federal agency's stimulus-funded infrastructure programs was submitted just before the deadline on Monday.  Of the three we have submitted over the last couple of months this was the largest - asking for an $8M renovation of the second floor of the New Core Lab. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 21, 2009

We entertained Angel White from Oregon State on Tuesday and pretty much finalized our discussions about her plans to join our Biological Oceanography group as a Doherty Associate Scientist early next calendar year. We are very much looking forward to having her on board.

A lot of activity with the Marine Office this week as we complete the complex procedures associated with getting the clearances for Doug Toomey, Emilie Hooft and Will Wilcock's cruise to the Endeavor segment of the Juan de Fuca Ridge, -scheduled to sail from Astoria today. Unfortunately, you will probably read about it in Nature (the complexities, that is). 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 14, 2009

It has been a remarkably hectic week not only a flood of proposals headed for the NSF August 15th target date, but also a string of visitors, from CU Research Admin on Morningside, and a new prospective LDEO Advisory board member. Langseth nears the end of a very long slow passage from Taiwan to Astoria, Oregon. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 7, 2009

The first week after returning from vacation is always tough - especially when the weather is as great as it is today - a marked change from last week!

Finalizing the decision not to hold Open House this fall was one of the more discouraging moments of this first week back - but given the tough spot we are in financially, and given that the cost of Open House equates approximately to that of one year of post doc support, I fear there was no alternative.  The article about this in the Journal News on Friday misquoted me with regards to my hopes of when we could hold the next one. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 24, 2009

The central subject of this week's report will be the essential synergy between cell phones and hair dryers.  I do not generally use a hair dryer, but I always use a cell phone - most often in fact to access the Internet through Verizon's excellent broadband network. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 17, 2009

The pressure resulting from the Federal Stimulus package proposal opportunities means that there is little sensation that summer has arrived, despite the gorgeous weather (which undoubtedly will come to an abrupt end as I am going sailing for a couple of weeks starting Saturday!). Thanks to the heroics of many - but especially Bonnie Bonkowski, Steve Chillrud and Pat O'Reilly we got an $8M proposal submitted to NIH for a new Exposure Assessment and Environmental Biogeochemistry facility - one of only three submissions from CU allowed by the rules of the competition. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 10, 2009

We received excellent news at the beginning of the week - our letter of intent to an NIST Announcement of Opportunity to help complete the fund raising for the Comer Building was accepted and we were invited to submit a proposal.  As with all the Stimulus Funding opportunities it has a very short fuse - an August 10th deadline - but once we get the NIH proposal for over $8M for a new Exposure Assessment and Environmental Biogeochemistry Laboratory Building out the door on Monday, then this will be our next target.  The NIST program is on behalf of all the agencies within the Department of Commerce (DoC), so we will be playing the NOAA climate science card (because NOAA is part of DoC), and this should give us a strong case. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 2, 2009

Geoff Abers and Goran Ekstrom co-chaired a significant workshop on Tuesday and Wednesday - planning an exciting (ARRA funded) combined onshore and offshore seismic experiment around Cascadia in the northwest US.  Not only was the attendance a veritable who's who in US seismology (along with three program managers and one section head from NSF) but also, most importantly, it represented real progress in attaining the long held goal - one that I certainly failed to achieve during my time at NSF - to get NSF Earth Sciences Division and the NSF Ocean Sciences Division working together cooperatively to tackle the many significant and relevant problems that cross the shoreline. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 26, 2009

No travel this week, which was a pleasant change.  But a wonderful evening event on Monday at the Frick Mansion in Alpine NJ participating in a fundraising event for the local Alpine school and getting to meet many of the residents of this intriguing, tiny, exceptionally wealthy town. We made a number of good new contacts that hopefully will become friends to LDEO in the future.

We entertained Kyoshi Suyehiro on Wednesday, who stopped by for a few hours on his way from the IODP jackup rig off New Jersey (that is drilling the hole that Greg Mountain has been trying to get drilled for a century or two) to his IODP-MI Office in DC where he is now President. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 19, 2009

The happiest news of the week is that the April issue of "Deep Sea Research" has been dedicated to Taro Takahashi. Taro, in his typically modest way, insists that "Since my ocean study was (and is) conducted entirely at Lamont with Lamont colleagues, I would like to share this honor and recognition with the entire Observatory."

There is a wonderful citation in the journal that states in part:

"Taro is an outstanding scientist, colleague, and mentor, with a graciousness and humility that has been an inspiration to us all throughout his entire career"

Congratulations Taro for this thoroughly appropriate and well-deserved recognition.

We received the great news on Monday that we have been given the one slot available to CU for submission of a proposal to NSF's Buildings and Infrastructure RFP issued as part of the Stimulus funding program (formally known as the American Reinvestment and recovery Act (ARRA). 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 12, 2009

As you all are probably aware, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding (ARRA, aka stimulus funding) comes with significant reporting requirements.  We are starting to see Stimulus awards come in and we do expect that many more PIs will be receiving such funds in the coming months.  Therefore, we have invited Paul Reedy, who is
leading Columbia's ARRA implementation team, to come to Lamont to talk about PI responsibilities with respect to Stimulus Funding.   The government reporting requirements for ARRA are significant so this will be a very important meeting for everyone. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 5, 2009

Today we had a successful visit by Chet Koblinsky the head of NOAA's Climate Program office along with a couple of his colleagues. He received briefings on the Columbia Climate Center and there were specific and useful discussions, led by Yochanan Kushnir about the future of our NOAA cooperative institute (CICAR). Relative to the other climate science agencies, the President's request for NOAA's budget for FY10 does not look great, but as a small sign of hope yesterday the House Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee marked them up by ~$130M which was at least something.  But there is still a long way to go in the budget process.

Kuheli Dutt ran the first Lamont Leadership Forum on Wednesday at which Suzanne Camargo and Tim Crone reported upon their recent attendance at leadership workshops organized by AGU and Ocean Leadership respectively.  There was good discussion and this is clearly an activity which we should repeat so that new insights and ideas to help our junior staff can be shared. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 29, 2009

A week today - Friday June 5th, the Director of NOAA's Climate Program Office, Chet Koblinsky, will give a talk in the Comer 1st floor seminar room at 2:15pm.  There is a lot going on at NOAA right now and we hope to gain some insights from Chet about what the future might hold.

I flew down to DC first thing on Tuesday morning (with Hilary Clinton, no less, on the US Air shuttle) and spent Tuesday and Wednesday working on the Advisory Committee to the  Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL) for the NSF Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI). COL is the prime contractor to NSF for the implementation of this ambitious infrastructure program which (depending on how you count) will be funded over the next decade at a level of more than $700M. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 22, 2009

Monday and Tuesday were consumed by the annual merit reviews of the whole of the scientific staff - an important but tiring process where I, along with the Associate Directors, go through every activity report and discuss relative merits and accomplishments.

I attended a very grand dinner on Tuesday evening at the Bollinger residence to recognize the nine CU honorary degree recipients - our good friend and generous benefactor Jerry Lenfest was among the honorees. It was  enjoyable but I had to stay up way way past my regular bed time! (Wednesday was commencement in case you missed it!). 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 15, 2009

Thank you to all who attended the ceremony this afternoon to honor this year's recipient of the Observatory's Excellence in Mentoring award. It was an activity designed to emphasize the importance of mentoring our junior colleagues - helping them succeed in the tough competitive environment in which we all live. Everyone who was nominated for this award deserves our recognition and thanks - so if you see Juerg Matter, Nick Christie-Blick, Doug Martinson, Alexey Kaplan in the next few days thank them for their important contributions to the quality of our work environment here at Lamont.  These folks along with all the previous recipients of this award - Gordon Jacoby, Bob Anderson, Marc Spiegelman, Kevin Griffith, Sid Hemming - all deserve our sincere thanks. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 8, 2009

The very first rumblings from NSF are being heard regarding implementation of their plans to disburse stimulus funding - we all wait with great expectations!

Little bits of information are trickling out about the all important President's request for FY2010 - more complete data will be available next week - but let me share a few numbers.

The FY10 request for NSF Geosciences is $909M versus the FY08 Actual of $758M - a healthy increase of 19.9 per cent. This is very good news.  NOAA did not fare so well - only a 1.5 per cent increase (relative to FY08 actual) for OAR and for NASA science a decrease of 4.9 per cent. But the real story on this, and its impact on Geosciences I am sure lies in the next level of budget detail which we will not see till next week. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 1, 2009

Despite the glorious weather last Sunday afternoon, Brendan Buckley's talk at the Spring Public Lecture series, the last for this season, attracted a good audience - this was the first event of many during the week. Brendan told a wonderful story about how he is linking the history of past droughts in SE Asia (reconstructed from tree rings) to the disappearance of ancient civilizations in the region.  Every year attendance at this lecture series increases - a couple of years ago we
had to start charging an entry fee to control the numbers somewhat - but still the pressure grows -  Lamont owes a great debt of thanks to all this year's speakers - thank you Michael Studinger, Dorothy Peteet, Nick Christie-Blick and Byrdie Renik (and of course Brendan).

On Monday evening there was a recognition of Provost's Alan Brinkley's many contributions to the University - he will be stepping down at the end of June - a very plush, and well-attended reception in the Rotunda of the Low Library. Notably one of the Alan's accomplishments that President Bollinger recognized in his speech was that of creating the
Research Professorships at Lamont. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 24, 2009

Last Sunday we held a meeting of the Alumni Association Board prior to a very well-attended lunch for members of FOLD (Friends of Lamont-Doherty) - almost forty folks attended - and its success was only eclipsed by the excellent public lecture (the third in this years series) that followed the lunch. Nick Christie-Blick and Byrdie Renik talked about Continental Stretching to a near-capacity crowd in Monell.

Wednesday afternoon was spent with our Advisory Board. They were treated to a tour of the "Seismology Museum" in the basement of the cafeteria, thanks to Art Lerner-Lam and Won Young Kim, before engaging in one of the best attended and most active meetings we have had. The central agenda item was that of improving Lamont's visibility, and Kevin Krajick and Kim Martineau gave a great overview of the impressively large amount of diverse press coverage that we have been receiving in recent months.  Robin Bell was the featured science speaker and told the great story of the recent expedition to Antarctica that she led with colleague Michael Studinger.

Lamont Weekly Report, April 17, 2009

We had the annual budget meeting with the Provost on Tuesday - this is the annual event at which Edie and I try to convince the Provost Alan Brinkley and the CU Chief Financial Officer that we can afford to run the campus for the next fiscal year. This is done with Steve Cohen and the Earth Institute of course (as our budget is tightly integrated with that of the EI).  It was tough this year - we have significant reductions in our endowment income and major growth in costs over
which we have no control. Our financial situation next year is tighter than it has ever been since I have been Director.  Of course we are all hopeful that when the stimulus dollars begin flowing from NSF, that the institution will get some relief because of the increase in indirect cost recovery, but I fear we will not see that until well into 2010. (And rumors aside, I still have no reliable idea of when stimulus funds will reach the program level within NSF - some have said that program managers will hear today - but I really do not know.) 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 10, 2009

I got back from DC late Friday night after a classic five hour long weather-related debacle with the Delta shuttle. The leadership of the US Implementing Organizations for the Ocean Drilling Program came into town on Sunday afternoon for a dinner that night and a day-long meeting on Monday. Most of the discussions were focused upon the many leadership changes that are occurring in practically every area of the program - except Lamonts - thank goodness.  Texas A&M is recruiting a new Geosciences Dean (to whom ODP-TAMU reports) as well as a new Director of the program to follow-on after Jeff Fox. And Kyoshi Suyehiro of JAMSTEC is taking over from Manik Talwani as President of the international management office for IODP. While all this is going on JOIDES Resolution is drilling successfully in the Pacific, with a
major celebration planned in early May during the Honolulu port call - Arden Bement, Director NSF will be the keynote speaker.

There was a Council of Deans meeting on Tuesday - probably there will be only one more during Alan Brinkley's tenure as Provost. No convincing rumors are circulating re the identity of Alan's replacement - obviously a critical appointment for both Lamont and the Earth Institute. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 3, 2009

This phenomena - of agreeing to some substantial commitment, because the date was sufficiently far into the future that you never thought it would actually happen -  came home to roost for me this week. The week was essentially consumed in preparation for and the running of a major NSF Panel review of the Management practices of the IRIS corporation.  IRIS  runs the global seismic network among other things.  When I agreed to do this last year I did not at all appreciate the magnitude of the commitment. So I have had three full days in DC - Tuesday night through Friday night chairing this panel - a job made easier by the exceptional quality of my fellow panelists. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 27, 2009

Langseth arrives in Taiwan tomorrow, after her long Trans-Pacific transit. Rumor is that she will escorted into the harbor with fireboats spraying hoses and greeted on the dock with a traditional Dragon dance - it should be quite a photo op!

We welcomed Connie Class to ExCom this morning for the first time, as the new Geochem representative - she had a magical effect because for the first time in living memory we finished the meeting in under two hours! In the informal information-swapping session, Bruce Huber brought up something that I had not appreciated - something quite
impressive. Lamont has had six separate research teams working in Antarctica this (southern) summer - some on ships, some on the ice and some in the air - but six separate groups. Another Lamont first, I would guess. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 20, 2009

I was driving back from Morningside early on Thursday afternoon, with the Leonard Lopate Show on NPR on the background, when I noticed that every sentence that the interviewee spoke in response to Leonard's questions began with the two words "Kelemen says".  Needless to say this attracted my attention after a while, and I turned up the volume to find that a fellow by the name of Tim Folger was being interviewed.

He wrote a piece for NRDC's magazine 'On Earth' about Peter Kelemen's ideas on using the peridotites in Oman to take CO2 out of the atmosphere - based upon Peter's publication in PNAS last year. It was a good piece - about nine minutes long - but sadly - as far as I heard, Lamont was not mentioned.

Last Sunday was our first Spring public lecture of the year. We had a very good audience with very good questions for Mark Studinger's remarkable account of the recent Lamont-led international expedition to Antarctica - a wonderful account of technical accomplishment and great discoveries embedded in a story of adventure and survival under incredibly tough conditions. Our next Public Lecture is a week on Sunday - March 29th - when Dorothy Peteet will talk about the 7000 year long archive of climate change that is Piermont Marsh. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 13, 2009

Almost six months into the fiscal year, the Federal agencies that support our research finally got their budgets. The president signed HR 1105, the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 on Tuesday. NSF gets 7.6 per cent above 2008 (and is directed among other things to spend $10M on Climate Change education); and NOAA gets an increase of 12
percent and there was this very interesting and important directive to NOAA:

"By not providing enough extramural research funding, NOAA risksg discouraging extramural involvement in NOAA's research programs and the concomitant leveraging of external funds in support of mission-oriented research. Thus, NOAA is encouraged to provide additional extramural funding in future budget requests". 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 6, 2009

I hope this week will be the last one in which Dick Greco and his crew will have to brave the winter's morning darkness to keep our Campus safe and accessible in the face of a particularly tiresome snowstorm on Monday.  It was a tough call at 5 am that morning to make a decision about whether to stay open or close but it was the fact that we believed that we could keep the bus running from downtown that swung the balance. I hope everyone stayed safe and warm nevertheless.

I was on the 6am shuttle down to DC on Thursday morning, for a couple of days of Ocean Leadership meetings on the Hill. I am sitting in National airport writing this as I make my way home. In the old days (i.e. 6 months ago) National airport at 4pm on a Friday afternoon was absolutely chaotic with crowds and queues - but not anymore - even though this seems to be the only town in the US that has any money! 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 27, 2009

Lamont received a rare amount of coverage in the CU's Record this week - not only a great photo of Doug Martinson doing his "Ocean Station Obama" thing, but also a good write up on the passage of the Research Professorships though the Senate - marred only by its (incorrect) inference that this was an initiative restricted to the senior staff. Speaking of errors - I was wrong last week when I said that Lamont should be proud that we had won two outstanding student paper awards at the last Fall AGU - the truth is that we won three! I apologize to Jenny Arbuswewski for not previously recognizing her accomplishment - her paper was entitled "Towards a global calibration of the G. ruber (white) Mg/Ca Paleothermometer".

I spent five hours in four different EI meetings downtown on Monday afternoon and had eight appointments in my diary for Tuesday. And on Thursday enjoyed an excellent event in the Rotunda of the Low Library in honor of the great Benefactor and CU Trustee Gerry Lenfest. President Bollinger recognized him as fourth largest donor to CU of all time - and joked that given Gerry's competitive spirit he was sure that Gerry would want to become number 1!  Anyhow I promised Gerry an opportunity to drive Langseth when she comes to the east coast - an offer of which he may take advantage! 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 20, 2009

Whenever I talk about Lamont I always try to remember to emphasize the essential role that our graduate students play in maintaining the quality of of everything we do. We received further testament to how exceptional our students are when we learned that for the SECOND time this year an AGU Outstanding Student paper award will be presented to one of DEES finest, Karen Wovkulich - for her paper entitled "Arsenic remediation enhancement through chemical additions to pump and treat operations" that was presented at the Fall Meeting in San Francisco. I doubt seriously that another institution in the US has received two of these awards this year. This is excellent - and many congratulations
to Karen. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 13, 2009

The Federal stimulus package that the Senate-House Conference Committee has agreed to contains a total of $3.5B for NSF, including $2.5B for research and Related Activities (i.e. the Research Directorates), $300M for Major Research Infrastructure and $400M for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction. NSF has to spend this in 120 days (I think that's right) so I expect it will go to programs for which they already have fully reviewed proposals.  It will have long term impact over the next 2-3 years as it will relieve pressure on programs - allowing managers to fund the backlog of
activities that have been held back for lack of funding.  This is really important and very very good news for us all!

The House passed this earlier today - the Senate may vote as early as this evening.  It is almost too good to be true!

So this was a very good week to receive a visit from Tim Killeen, the Assistant Director for the Geosciences at NSF - he had an excellent visit on Wednesday, and I believe went away impressed. Interestingly, he had never before visited Lamont. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 6, 2009

Last Friday on the NPR Science Friday website, the top three video stories, led by Rusty Lotti and Peter Demenocal talking about the Core repository - a great piece, were all Lamont.  Many thanks to Kevin and Kim for engineering all this.

Public visibility for the importance of our science is so important - especially as we are (at this very moment, on this very day) fighting against an amendment to the Federal Stimulus package (put forward by Senators Collins and Nelson) to delete all funding for NSF from the Bill.

The visit by NSF Division Directors Julie Morris and Bob Detrick went very well today, though, not surprisingly, their schedules were extremely hectic. Next Wednesday, Feb 11th, their boss, Tim Killeen, Assistant Director for Geosciences at NSF will be visiting and will be giving a talk in Monell in the afternoon. Perhaps we will know about the Stimulus package by then. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 30, 2009

As reported last week, I met with the CU Senate Faculty Affairs Committee (FAC) last Friday. Earlier this week I was informed of the result of their vote on the Lamont Research Professorship plan. It was unanimously in favor. This is a major step forward.  The FAC will now take this proposal forward to the next meeting of the full Senate - which takes place on February 6th (which creates a scheduling nightmare for me because that is the day that Julie Morris and Bob
Detrick are visiting from NSF).  Nevertheless - there is nothing more important than this, so I will attend the Senate meeting in order to handle any questions that come up. If we clear the Senate, then the next step will be the drafting by the Provost's office of the formal language to be added to the University's statutes, establishing these new positions. This language will then have to be approved by the President and the Trustees. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 23, 2009

Well - this is one of those weeks that started off very well - Obama's inauguration on Tuesday.  And ended very badly (at least for me)  because I had to squeeze in an emergency root canal on a very painful tooth - in between an interesting new donor visit on Thursday morning,  a CU Council of Deans meeting on Thursday afternoon (at which was
announced the endowment payout rules for FY09/10 - sorry not public  info til next week), and most importantly by far, on Friday afternoon  (after the exciting root canal experience) the meeting of the CU  Senate's Faculty Affairs Committee at which the vote was taken on the  Lamont research professor initiative (I do not have the results yet  but I believe them to be extremely favorable). This latter meeting  caused me to miss the Faculty meeting this afternoon - which I really did not want to do. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 16, 2009

The current version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009 that will be chewed upon by the Committee on Appropriations within the House of Representatives over the next couple of weeks includes additional funding of $3 billion for the National Science Foundation, $600 million for NASA Earth Sciences and $600 million for NOAA. Wonderful numbers of course, but this is a long way from becoming law. Nevertheless 'hope' is now a fashionable word - a Presidential election was fought about it after all - so we should have some (hope that is!).

Speaking of Presidents, next Tuesday is the inauguration of Barack Obama, and this is clearly an historic event that we should not miss.  Therefore it will be televised, starting at around 11 am, on the big screen in the Monell Auditorium. With concurrence of your supervisor everyone is welcome to come and enjoy the moment. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 9, 2009

I write this from Concepcion Chile where I have been for the last three days at a meeting of the Partnership for Observations of the  Global Ocean (POGO). Whenever you get Directors of Ocean Institutes from Russia, Japan, Korea, Germany, UK, Mexico, China, US (SIO and  WHOI, as well as NOAA), Chile, South Africa, and Canada - all in the same 
room  - there assuredly is some interesting conversation. The goal of the group is to build international partnerships to advocate the national and international entities that will organize and support -  establish and sustain - an operational global ocean observing system.  It is a long and slow and difficult business. Unquestionably, the most rewarding part of the three days is the opportunity for one-on-one conversations with the interesting and diverse set of Directors  -  some are old friends, and some I am meeting for the first time.

Lamont Weekly Report, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year - a year that I hope will mark the beginning of a new era for the nation. It will undoubtedly be a tough year for us at Lamont. The global financial crisis will result in reductions in gifts, and at best we expect income from our endowment to be flat at 08 levels. But the Federal scene looks good, and providing the new administration does indeed sign off on the pending NSF appropriations bill as approved by the House and Senate - that will result in a double digit percentage increase - then some of the immediate pressures on our key programs should be relieved. Certainly 09 will be a year of important change, and although I am optimistic that most of this change will be for the good, the reality is that whenever a massive bureaucracy like the Federal Government changes its priorities then some turmoil will result - we must be agile in recognizing the new opportunities and adjusting to them quickly. (What new programs will Jane Lubchenko start at NOAA in 2010?  How will DoE reshape its basic research agenda in energy and the environment? How (and/or when) will NSF implement its new emphasis on Economics, Energy and the Environment?) We have the talent and the ability to take advantage of all these possible new programs, which perhaps will more than compensate for possible reductions in private income. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 19, 2008

I flew out to AGU on Saturday and have been constrained by a rigid schedule of meetings, dinners and events ever since arrival. I think I managed to make it to three science sessions and was able to visit poster sessions a couple of times. I was engaged with recruitment efforts, two important meetings with excellent LDEO benefactors, an NSF oversight committee, a couple of meetings with NSF program managers, an OOI Advisory Committee - not to mention the LDEO Alumni Association reception, which was, as usual an unparalleled success. Barb Charbonnet and I had lunch with Oleg
Jardetsky on Wednesday at the Stanford Faculty Club and were amused by his stories of the planned return of Condoleeza Rice to the regular Stanford faculty in the Political Sciences Department. On Thursday afternoon I had a good meeting with Bruno Goffe - the Earth Sciences Director at INSU/CNRS in Paris and arranged a day long visit to LDEO in the spring. Apparently, Sarkozy is pushing for more University-based research in France and encouraging international cooperation. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 12, 2008

Well, the Campus Life Committee was right, again. Last Friday's Holiday party was one of the best attended and most enjoyable events in years.  I thought it was scheduled way too early, but I was wrong -  I think everyone had a great time and thank you to the many folks who helped organize it.

It was sad to say goodbye to Karen Bocsusis on Tuesday, as she leaves  us for a well deserved retirement, after over three decades of loyal  service to several generations of Lamonters. It was the week for  'goodbye' parties: the Geochemistry Division is losing two of its great junior scientists - Katherina Pahnke who is chasing the sun to the University of Hawaii, and Meredith Kelly who will chase the snow  to Dartmouth College up in New Hampshire.

We suffered a great disappointment when the Senate Academic Affairs committee had to postpone its meeting at Lamont - previously planned for today. Discussion of the Lamont Research Professor plan was to be the primary agenda item. It will be rescheduled in January. 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 5, 2008

Just a normal week - no trips - simply 28 separate appointments in my diary - so the week has flown by.  One of the most interesting events was a breakfast down in the city on Thursday morning for the Columbia Campaign Committee - an overwhelmingly positive and optimistic occasion.  From among the many reports that were presented, I learned that both the Medical School and the Journalism school have reached their campaign fund-raising targets three years ahead of schedule..., (around $1B and $100M respectively) - so folks - yes, there is hope! 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 28, 2008

I was in DC just for the day on Monday, with Dave Goldberg, meeting with the other members of the US Implementing organizations for the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program - trying to decide upon a good strategy for navigating through the huge funding uncertainties of the next few years. Not sure how much progress we made - often these discussions end up being therapy for the participants more than anything else.

Speaking of funding uncertainties: one of the primary items on the ExCom agenda on Wednesday was a discussion of how the Observatory should adjust its budget to ready itself for the inevitable decreases in revenue from the endowment.  No decisions as yet, but one thing is clear - given we are spending - campus wide - substantially more than $1M per year on utilities, then energy conservation is one of the most obvious and effective ways for us to save money.  Pat O'Reilly is going to be sending out information in the coming weeks about how to make progress with this.  A ten per cent decrease in energy use could have a dramatic impact on our budget woes - as well as decreasing our inevitably-too-large carbon foot-print. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 21, 2008

I gave another presentation on the Research Professor initiative to a large group in the Faculty room in Low Library on Tuesday. It was one of Nick Dirks meetings of all the Chairs and Directors within Arts and Sciences. My perception was that it went well - an important factor being the strong and unqualified support received from Steve Goldstein representing the faculty of DEES. So, now the next step is the Senate Faculty Affairs subcommittee on December 12th.

Of course there were many other agenda items at this meeting, the most prominent of which were the cost saving steps that Arts and Sciences is planning to take in response to the economic downturn. Naturally we are engaged in similar discussions internal to Lamont - it is a very difficult and uncertain time - and we must strive to find a path that navigates judiciously between the classic path of denial - doing nothing until the sky falls - and unnecessary over-reaction to a crisis that in fact will impact an institution like Lamont quite differently from most other units within the University. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 14, 2008

I ran out of time today.

But it has been a good week. A couple more significant steps forward with the Research Professor initiative..  I met with the co-chairs of  the Senate Faculty Affairs subcommittee, and they have decided to schedule their next meeting for December 12th here at Lamont, at which time I will make a formal presentation to them asking for their  endorsement as we go forward to the full Senate.  I also met with members of the Executive Committee of the Faculty of the Arts and Sciences, and will be engaging in a continuing dialog with them in the coming weeks - again asking for their endorsement of our plans. 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 7, 2008

It is not possible to comment upon the events of this week without talking about Tuesday -we should all be forever proud of this day - no matter our political inclination. Our democratic system - so often the source of delay, inaction and frustration - worked the way it should.

Washington is now awash with the transition process, but it will be sometime before we know much of decisions that are important to us. Non-cabinet level political appointments (like for example the Administrators of NOAA and NASA) on average take 8-12 months to be filled - Senate ratification being one key source of delay.  But we may see some early decisions on the structure and authority of any new White House science advisory structure - which should provide insight into the role that research and education will have within the new President's inner circle.

The Obama transition team is trying to move quickly - they have already approached our representative organizations in DC (principally UCAR and Ocean Leadership) with a deadline of November 12th for input and advice on key climate-ocean-environment leadership positions. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 31, 2008

We hosted the MARGINS Program national steering committee on Monday, under the leadership of Geoff Abers - they are preparing for a major review in the coming months that will shape the size and direction of the program for the next decade.  Needless to say everyone is hopeful that the arrival of a marine geophysicist (Bob Detrick) as the new Division Director for the Earth Sciences Division (he starts on Monday) will result in renewed interest from the solid earth side of NSF in the support of ocean margin research.

I was fortunate to spend time with Lee Goldman on Tuesday ( Exec VP for Health Sciences and Dean of the Faculties of Health Science and Medicine) - he runs the Medical center which constitutes something close to half of the whole of CU.  The subject of the meeting was exclusively our initiative to establish research professorships at LDEO - we share many of the same issues (though on a slightly different scale!) - and I was very pleased by how much understanding and support that I received - a very positive step forward. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 24, 2008

It was our privilege to entertain Stephanie Comer and her husband on Campus on Monday afternoon - Taro gave an update on the successful pCO2 measurements that are being made continuously from the Comer family motor yacht - Turmoil - as she travels the world's oceans, and it was a great opportunity to show off the Comer Building now it is
populated and beginning to function as a real research facility.

Scheduling conflicts forced me to miss the Chilli cook-off - apologies to everyone - I am confident it was more fun that whatever it was I was doing on Wednesday afternoon!

The Effort reporting education session on Wednesday morning - presented by Naomi Schrag, Associate Vice President for Research Compliance and Richard Ruttenberg, Associate Controller - was attended by only two folks who were not part of Admin. I hope (naive soul that I am)  that this means that all questions pertaining to this important process have been satisfactorily answered! 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 17, 2008

The press release went out yesterday announcing that Walter Alvarez of  UC Berkeley is the winner of the 2008 Vetlesen Prize (see our web page for details).  I am extremely pleased with this selection - Walter is a wonderful  person (and an ex-Lamonter - Doc Ewing's last post doc apparently) - and we greatly look forward to hosting him for the medal 
ceremony, to be presided over by Lee Bollinger in Low Library on November 21st.  It is a testament to his continued active involvement in geological research and education that it took me a week to track him down and give him the good news - because he was in the field outside cell phone coverage.

It has taken too long for me to live up to a promise that I made to everyone at a Lamont-wide meeting in early 2007 - but finally we now have a new full-time position in the Director's office with the title Assistant Director for Academic Affairs and Diversity.  Dr Kuheli Dutt joined us on Monday of this week to take on this new role. She will have a steep learning curve in the coming months as she learns the unique characteristics of this complex organism that is Lamont, and I hope everyone will offer help and support as appropriate. Kuheli's appointment is one of the most substantial steps we have taken in our mission to continuously improve the quality of the work environment on campus. Naturally she will be working closely with Robin Bell and the ADVANCE program. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 10, 2008

There was a great fire in Rome in 64 AD, and Nero was in the city at the time, but whether he actually played some kind of musical instrument while the fire was raging is somewhat uncertain. (He certainly did not play a fiddle - they were not invented for another thousand years or more). In stark contrast, however, it seems quite certain (because it was reported in Nature [Global Carbon Project,  2008] and who doesn't believe everything they read in Nature?) that the rate of increase of CO2 levels in our atmosphere is increasing - I repeat - the rate of increase is increasing - (2.2ppm per year in 2007 versus average 2.0ppm per year for 2000-2007 versus average 1.5ppm per year for 1980-2000). While this is going on (and the world financial markets are collapsing), our nation is debating whether the husband of a vice presidential candidate engaged in vengeful action against the supervisor of the ex-husband of his wife's sister.

Sometimes I worry about our future.

Open House last Saturday was a great event. Despite the cold early start to the day the afternoon was beautiful and we had over 3200 folks exploring our campus.  Attendance was down from last year. I do not know anybody who knows why - but it was nevertheless a wholly successful day. The only organizational crisis of which I was aware was the lack of bottle openers and corkscrews at the post-event party. This omission served to emphasize another of Al Queda's 
destructive impacts on our world - the significant reduction in the number of air-travel-weary researchers who routinely carry a Swiss army knife in their pocket. 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 3, 2008

The dinner to celebrate the award of the Vetlesen Prize for 2008 will be held (in the Low Library) on November 21st. I am not free to announce the identity of the awardee (who will receive a cheque for $250,000) for another week or so, but as in previous years we have identified a great leader in our field whose name will add further prestige to the Prize and to the great Foundation that supports it.

Speaking of awards, I was extremely pleased to learn this week that our own Won-Young Kim has won much deserved recognition from the Seismological Society of America for his outstanding contributions to observational seismology by winning the Jesuit Seismological Association Award. The Jesuits played a substantial role in the early development of global observational seismology, and to have Won-Young honored by such an historic group is indeed a testament to his contributions. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 26, 2008

I met with the Executive Committee of the Engineering School on Monday  - presenting our plans for the Research Professor initiative - a very  good meeting - many shared issues. Dean Gerry Navratil deserves our  thanks for enabling these conversations to take place.

It is Open House a week tomorrow - let us hope for more suitable  weather than that experienced presently, and look forward to the usual  great turn out of folks from around the region.

Earth Institute Academic committee meeting on Thursday followed on  Friday by ExCom in the morning and a Faculty meeting in the afternoon  - at both vain attempts were made to understand the possible impacts  of the Wall Street melt-down upon our lives in academia.  It is indeed  a very worrying time - with no previous comparable events upon which  to base a prediction of how the economy will evolve. We are obviously very concerned by possible changes to the income from our endowment. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 19, 2008

  On Tuesday we had a visit from Anne Taylor from the senior leadership of the CU Medical Center - the primary agenda was concerned with our Research Professor initiative - there is interest in this because, not surprisingly, the issues that we have at Lamont are not completely unique. I have a significant meeting with the Executive Committee of the Engineering School on Monday for this very same reason.

     I met briefly with the Campus Life Committee on Wednesday - something I must do on a more regular basis, but in this case specifically to welcome Jason Smerdon into his new role as Chair of
this important group.

     I spent a large part of Friday on the Cross Bronx Expressway as an inevitable consequence of the need to attend a day-long meeting at Stony Brook. It was the inaugural meeting of the NY Marine Science Consortium - we are one of the founding members, and I am on the Executive Committee - 26 full members so far - academic institutions
around the state. The goal is to get the State better educated about the resource it holds in its world class universities - that are capable of generating the knowledge that the State so desperately requires if it is to tackle its many marine environmental issues with wisdom and effectiveness. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 12, 2008

The leadership of the US components of the Ocean Drilling program were here at Lamont Monday and Tuesday of this week - discussing how we can adjust to the new budgetary realities that have forced NSF to reduce funding below the level required to keep the drill ship JOIDES Resolution in operation for 12 months each year. The new leadership
from Texas A&M, including their Dean of Geosciences Bjorn Kjerve, along with Bob Gagosian from Ocean Leadership in Washington DC joined Dave Goldberg and I in two days of difficult but productive deliberations.  Everyone will be relieved when the Resolution gets out of the shipyard in Singapore later this year and gets back to drilling.

The happiest news of the week was that of Wally Broecker's receipt of yet another hugely prestigious international prize - again very appropriately recognizing his contributions to climate science.  It is the Balzan Prize - Wally will be traveling to Italy later this year for the ceremony.

Congratulations, Wally.

Another set of congratulations are due to Suzanne Carbotte - selected to give the highly prestigious Birch Lecture at AGU this Fall - many congratulations, Suzanne. 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 5, 2008

The crew and technicians on board Langseth are taking a well earned break in Astoria Oregon right now. They sail on Wednesday next week, north to Alaska, for a cruise led by Sean Gullick and Gail Christeson of UTIG - the last cruise of the year.

Steve Goldstein and I had a very important meeting on Wednesday morning with the chairs of the basic science departments within Arts and Sciences - talking about our research professor initiative. I think we made good progress - there is a growing understanding of the uniqueness of Lamont, and of the priority associated with the development of new positions for our superb research staff. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 29, 2008

I had a wonderful long weekend spent soliloquizing beneath the starry Adirondack sky. It is important to look at the Milky Way from time to time - it gives one an appropriate sense of scale. So it has been difficult getting back into the routine but the forthcoming Labor Day  long weekend will help cushion the shock.

The high point of this past week was the welcoming of 57 new graduate students to the Campus - 16 PhD students, 39 Climate and Society Masters students and 2 Earth and Environmental Science Masters students - the next generation of leaders begin their graduate careers. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 22, 2008

I got into science in the beginning via a misguided interest in high energy nuclear physics. So I was fully embroiled in quantum mechanics and all its bizarre predictions - several of which Einstein himself did not believe. One of the more intriguing predictions of quantum mechanics is that, given the right conditions, a particle can change the properties of another particle, no matter how far apart they are, and it can do this instantaneously - repeat instantaneously.  The
August 14 issue of Nature reports an experiment that claims to prove this (over a separation distance of 18 km) - establishing that, within their experimental resolution, the definition of 'instantaneously' is at least four orders of magnitude faster than the speed of light.  The closing sentence of the paper (by Salart et al on p861, and, I repeat,
this is in Nature) states "To maintain an explanation based on spooky action at a distance we would have to assume that the spooky action propagates at speeds even greater than the bounds of our experiment"  i.e. faster than four orders of magnitude faster than the speed of light. (Please note that neither italics nor quotation marks were used
in this sentence). Apparently 'spooky action' was a phrase used by Einstein to dismiss this phenomena (which he believed revealed a failing of quantum mechanics).  I am glad we do not work on this stuff at Lamont - I would never know when to take folks seriously... but I have to admit, this is indeed... spooky.

Summer is ending - classes begin September 2nd and we welcome the 57 new graduate students (yes - 57) joining the Department at a party behind Lamont Hall, 5 pm  Wednesday August 27th.  All are welcome - please join Steve Goldstein, the new Chair of DEES, and me to help make the new students feel at home. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 15, 2008

I used to carry all kinds of valuable things in the trunk of my car -  tools, jumper cables. Back in the day - when I had a 1965 MGB - it was even necessary for me to carry a spare cylinder head gasket - which on more than one occasion I had to replace on the roadside.

But on Monday night when I went out to the parking lot and found my car with a completely flat battery, I opened my trunk to find nothing but a magnificent smooth, noise-dampening carpet, without any sign of useful paraphernalia.  So I had to buy some jumper cables, believe it or not, and then suffer the annoyance of being told by the dealership that there was nothing wrong with the car which, with 20K miles on it  'just needed a new battery'.  I don't think so.

Other than this piece of automotive excitement, and ExCom on Friday -  which was the typical three hour marathon - the high points were a  visit by newly recruited E3B professor Ruth DeFries, and word from our ship, the Langseth, that they are hauling gear this weekend and heading for Manzanillo having completed a really tough but very successful first 3D cruise. I am sure Chief Scientists John Mutter and  Suzanne Carbotte and all the science and technical complement will be glad to get home. 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 1, 2008

This has been a jumbled week of random activity, interspersed with sleepless nights worrying about the ongoing 3D cruise on Langseth - all is going well out there right now, they have completed their first grid - but there always seems to be an infinitesimally small divide between success and some new and complex setback.

Dean of Engineering Jerry Navratil visited on Wednesday and EVP for Research David Hirsh visited on Thursday. With the migration of Geochemists into the Comer building we need to face some difficult space decisions and I spent some time on Monday with Roger Buck and Pat O'Reilly, walking around, looking at ways to make better use of our available square footage. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 25, 2008

I spent a very productive day at NSF on Tuesday - had one-on-one meetings with Julie Morris, the Division director for OCE, and the new  Assistant Director for Geosciences Tim Killeen.  But most of the time was spent with John Diebold, colleagues from the University of Texas and a large group of NSF program managers talking about possible  Langseth operations in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

I gave a short speech at a press conference with the Riverkeeper organisation on Thursday morning - down on a windy and rainy Pier 84  in Manhattan. The subject was the results of the water quality work that Greg O'Mullan, Andy Juhl and Ray Sambrotto have been carrying out in the Hudson River. There has been considerable interest - I even heard the story on NPR as I was driving into work this morning! 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 18, 2008

Thank you to everyone who participated in the blood drive this past week - and especially to the folks who organised it.  Mundane stuff, I  know, but really important - thank you.

Congratulations to Suzana Camargo - just appointed as a Doherty  Associate Research Scientist in Ocean and Climate Physics (OCP). She works on understanding hurricanes and tropical cyclones and how they are influenced by ENSO (El Nino-Southern Oscillation) and is a great addition to our climate group, working to understand the short-term impacts of climate change.

Thank you to Jason Smerdon - Storke-Doherty Lecturer also in OCP - for agreeing to take over leadership of the Campus Life Committee from  Mary Reagan, who has done a tremendous and much-appreciated job over the past four years as the founding chair of this important group.

There was a great turnout for today's Research Life session - an interactive session on working with the media - led by Rich Hayes from the Union of Concerned Scientists. Kevin Krajick and I will be collecting input from folks over the next week or so to determine how effective it was and decide whether we want to repeat the session next summer or modify it in some way.  A week today - Friday, July 25th  330pm in Lamont Hall - the next session will be on 'Washington DC and  Proposal Writing' - panelists will include Art Lerner Lam, Yochanan  Kushnir, and a real, live, practicing NSF program manager from the  Ocean Sciences Division who has promised to tell ALL the secrets of how decisions are made about our proposals! 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 11, 2008

Since I was fortunate enough to spend a few days this week sailing on Long Island Sound (what a different place it is on a week day compared with the weekend!), I have little of relevance to report. But I can pass on a couple of items of interest.

Pat O'Reilly has for sometime been leading our search for a replacement for Ray Long (who continues to enjoy his retirement in Virginia). I am pleased to announce that this process is now completed and we have successfully recruited a new Manager of Safety, Security, Communications and Property for the Lamont Campus, Mr. Howard Matza. Howard holds a Masters Degree from SUNY Buffalo in Environmental Studies and has spent 18 years working for the New York City Transit Authority in progressively responsible positions in the field of Environmental Protection and Environmental Management. He is presently certified in Hazardous Materials Incident Response and is a  Certified
Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM).  Howard lives with his wife and children in Suffern, NY.  He will join Lamont on August 4th. 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 3, 2008

This has been a blessedly quiet week which has allowed some small degree of 'catching-up' to occur in my office.  I do not know whether the fact that 'catching-up' seems to be synonymous with filling several recycling bins with paper, should concern me or not.

As we approach the celebration of this nations successful detachment from the power of the English monarchy, it was with particular interest that I received the latest fund-raising request from the alma mater of many members of the British royal family (and me, by the way!) Cambridge - reminding us all that next year 2009 will be the University's 800th Anniversary (it was founded in 1209 by an exodus of scholars from the University of Oxford who got into a dispute with the local townsfolk (it was kind-of-like a Manhattanville situation I think). So presumably Cambridge's 800th will be more than three times larger and grander than Columbia's recent 250th celebration! 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 27, 2008

As summer settles in, field work activities intensify, undergraduate interns bring new life to the Campus and travel and vacation schedules make it even more difficult to schedule meetings and events.

I am sure there are many many more - but just in my conversations over the last couple of days, I discovered that this weekend there is a remarkable exodus of senior Lamonters to the oceans of the world.  Over this coming weekend, John Mutter and Suzanne Carbotte leave to join Langseth in Manzanillo, Mexico to lead a ground-breaking 3D seismic survey of the East Pacific Rise; Bob Anderson and Katherina Pahnke (newly appointed DARS effective July 1st - congratulations Katherina!) leave to join the Knorr in Bermuda for a GEOTRACES cruise, Ray Sambrotto leaves for Dutch Harbor Alaska to be Chief Scientist on the USCG Healey in the Bering Sea, and Mike Steckler and John Diebold
go to Turkey where they have chartered a Turkish research vessel to carry out high res seismic over the earthquake faults in the Marmara Sea.  (Not to mention the fact that Robin Bell and her group just returned from Greenland after successfully completing the first operational tests of the new Lamont airborne ice-penetrating radar mapping system.) As I say there is probably much more than this going on that I do not know about, but this is just what I heard about
directly in conversations throughout the week - an impressive and diverse level of activity. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 20, 2008

Unquestionably the most important news this week is that after more than 20 years at Lamont, Doug Brusa has accepted the position of Director of Development for the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences (COAS) at Oregon State University (Corvallis).  Many of you have known Doug longer than I have.  In 1987 he joined Lamont as
Purchasing Manager, and for the last several years has been Associate Director of Development responsible for alumni and community relations, the alumni and friends newsletter, and other aspects of fundraising.  In addition, he is one of our unofficial historians - perhaps you have heard one of his talks on Thomas W. Lamont or Henry L. Doherty. He has been a great asset to Lamont and we will miss him dearly. He plans to leave very soon - at the end of this month - so I
encourage all of you to attend a farewell gathering this next Wednesday, June 25 at 3:30 pm in Lamont Hall.

The Geochemistry Division organized a special event this past Wednesday to recognize Bob Anderson's five years of service as Associate Director - Bob steps down on 1st July and Bill Smethie will take on the reins of leadership.  Thank you Bob - the Geochemistry Division, and indeed the whole Observatory, owes you a profound debt of gratitude. And Bill - thank you too for taking on this important new responsibility. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 13, 2008

Well, it is Friday the 13th, and nothing terrible has happened yet... although yesterday my cell phone died, and earlier this week we did discover that carpenter ants are eating the Monell Building... but that seems unrelated to the failure of the phone system in that same building for half a day (which was caused by lightning).

I did an interview for Austrian National Public Radio (in English - so who will be able to understand it remains a mystery).

We received the disappointing news that yet another attempt at hiring a DARS-level glaciologist has been unsuccessful - so we will have to try again.

Our ship, the Langseth remains alongside the Scripps dock in San Diego completing final preparations before sailing south to Manzanillo Mexico in a couple of weeks... Then, under the leadership of Suzanne Carbotte and John Mutter, she will carry out the very first industry-quality three-dimensional survey of the volcanic plumbing system
beneath the East Pacific Rise. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 6, 2008

A few random news items to begin with:

After a couple of years of dedicated service Andy Juhl has decided to step down from his position on the LDEO Executive Committee and Andreas Thurnherr (who has served occasionally as Andy's backup in the past) has agreed to take his place.

Three Lamonters were inducted into Columbia University's elite cadre of 25-year veterans earlier this week: John Mutter from MG&G, Dave Walker from Geochem, and Fernando Uribe from the Marine Dept (Fernando works in the engine room on Langseth - and did on the Ewing... and the Conrad). 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 30, 2008

In a speech in the Low Library earlier this week  Mayor Bloomberg said: "Science in our city also puts New York on the cutting edge in the study of climate change. Columbia University's Earth Institute and its Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are world leaders in understanding and addressing global warming...

So it is nice that he knows our name!

The Commissioner of the New York State Dept of Environmental Conservation (Peter Grannis) and his Deputy Stu Gruskin spent most of the day here at Lamont, learning about the many NYS research activities in which we are involved. This was an extremely productive session that I believe will lead to substantially increased interactions. Other States around the nation, especially California and Florida, provide significant support for University-based research that has relevance to State interests - we must get New York into this same state of mind. The reality is that we do a tremendous amount of research here at Lamont that is of fundamental importance to the healthy future of NYS. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 23, 2008

Kevin Griffin gave the last talk in this year's public lecture series on Sunday and we had a small dinner afterwards with a few special friends of Lamont.  As always, Kevin's talk was tremendous and elicited a seemingly unending string of good questions.

Monday morning I left for San Diego and stayed aboard Marcus Langseth alongside at the Scripps Pier at Point Loma for two days - the NSF mandated Oversight Committee was meeting there and giving us important advice concerning how we can continue to improve the quality of the services that Langseth offers for the community. Her first three
cruises, off Costa Rica and in the equatorial Pacific have been unqualified successes (and we made the front page of the local newspapers in Manzanillo Mexico!)

Langseth sails on June 26th (or thereabouts), with Chief Scientist John Diebold for a last shakedown of her multi-streamer towing systems, immediately prior to the groundbreaking East Pacific Rise cruise, led by Suzanne Carbotte and John Mutter, that will for the first time in academia carry out a three-dimensional imaging experiment
using multiple (4) six-kilometer-long hydrophone streamers. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 16, 2008

It has been a very busy week with a particularly crazy schedule.  A day trip to DC on Wednesday to participate in an interagency discussion on the issue of marine mammals and sound in the ocean was followed by a successful Advisory Board Meeting on Thursday and Don Forsyth's Jardetzky lecture on Friday.

This Sunday is the last of Spring public lecture series - Kevin Griffin at 3pm in Monell, and on Monday I leave for San Diego to participate in the NSF Oversight Committee meeting for the Langseth.  She will be alongside at the Scripps Marine Facility so both the Committee and representatives from NSF will have an opportunity to go on board and review her status firsthand. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 9, 2008

Even though the weather last Sunday afternoon was glorious, Robin Bell's Public Lecture - talking about places much colder and ice-covered -  was well-attended and was the third in this year's series - another highly successful series that continues to bring new faces and friends to the Observatory.

Next Friday - in place of the regular colloquium - is our annual Jardetsky Lecture - this year the speaker is Don Forsyth, a world-leading seismologist from Brown University. Undoubtedly this will be a great talk - all are invited and of course there will be a reception afterwards.

Sarah Huard and I had lunch with the Vetlesen Foundation's George Rowe on Wednesday, the one time each year I get to eat in the Rainbow Room overlooking Rockefeller Plaza. The support that the Vetlesen Foundation gives Lamont each year is critical to our health and long-term security. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 2, 2008

The Earth Institute's External Review Board, commissioned by the Provost,  was in town at the beginning of the week, and they triggered a number of excellent discussions about the structure and future of the EI. It is always so enlightening to listen to perspectives from 'outside' - it was clear that the Board members perceived CU as
playing the major leadership role within US academia on matters pertaining to earth and environmental research and sustainable development. Very heartening.

Our own Michael Studinger is featured on the front page of the CU home page (one of the several photos they have cycling through) - looking like the quintessential field geophysicist surrounded by snow and ice and equipment boxes and earnestly recording observations in a field notebook! I think I need to enact a new policy requiring large and legible Lamont logos on all our equipment boxes so when photos like this are taken we are guaranteed visibility. (There is also a picture in the sequence taken at our Open House.) 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 28, 2008

We received nine proposals for the Advisory Board Innovation Fund  -  all of them excellent and relevant. I would like to make a speedy decision about the results so that I can report them to the Board at their next meeting on May 15th. Whether I am successful in this will depend upon how quickly I can get reviews.

Our vessel the Langseth was on the front page of the US Embassy (Costa Rica) web page (maybe still is) following on from her very successful port visit there at the end of the Steve Holbrook expedition.  Already she is at sea again - working in the equatorial Pacific for PI McGuire from WHOI.

Attended a 'going away' party for Ellen Smith in the Low Library on Monday - very sad to see Ellen leave Columbia as AVP for Government Relations. I have worked with her closely and she has done a lot of good work for LDEO on the Hill over the years - we will miss her greatly. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 18, 2008

Last Sunday we held a successful Alumni Association Board Meeting and lunch, along with a several of the Observatory's special friends, before Greg Mountain's great lecture at the second Spring Public lecture event - again to a capacity crowd in the Monell Auditorium. I had to leave early from the reception to get down to Newark airport in time to catch a plane to Houston with Dave Goldberg, rolling in to College Station substantially after midnight. So Monday was spent talking with the TAMU folks and with Ocean Leadership about how to keep the Ocean Drilling Program thriving and successful, through these difficult times of rocketing fuel costs and decreasing NSF support. After losing Tuesday to the return trip from Texas, and Wednesday to day-long interview sessions with a candidate for our new Academic Affairs and Diversity position, and Thursday morning to a very educational visit to the Liberty Science Center (to talk about a possible MoU), Friday arrived  - the pinnacle of which was the annual budget meeting with Provost Brinkley - always a positive joy.

Langseth arrived in port in Costa Rica this week - at the end of her first two legs of science operations for Steve Holbrook - which were by all accounts highly successful - absolutely fabulous data from the 8 km long streamer. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 11, 2008

The April issue of the Rockland Magazine listed the ten best places to work in Rockland County - Lamont was, of course, not included on this list because we do not qualify - we all come here because it's fun... which was made clear by Eliot Tozer's article in this same issue - an article about the impacts of global warming on the county that inevitably featured several Lamonters including Dorothy Peteet, Beate Liepert, Juerg Matter.

Rockland Magazine aside, we also made it onto the 6 o'clock news on NBC on Thursday - Paul Olsen and Dave Walker were featured talking about the geology of the Palisades sill.

And while on the subject of television Sarah Huard and I were extremely pleased on Wednesday when we asked the discerning critic of TV programming Bill Baker, LDEO Advisory board member and most recently President of Channel 13, to review the final cut of our 8 minute Lamont promotional DVD - he thought it was exceptional - told us it was a quarter million dollar production (Of course it was not, by any means!) - but that was good, because a lot of effort by many folks has gone into that over the past months. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 4, 2008

Last Sunday was the first in this year's series of Spring Public Lectures. Terry Plank was the speaker and the Monell auditorium was absolutely packed on a beautiful sunny afternoon. As you know last season we started charging a $5 entry fee and requesting advance bookings in order to try to reduce the difficult and embarrassing overflow crowds that we had experienced - but still we are experiencing getting capacity crowds - which of course is absolutely wonderful!  
And Terry's talk was fabulous - a very tough subject - the role of the earth's interior in the global water cycle - but she made it fun and exciting, up to and including spraying the Director with an effervescing soda bottle. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 28, 2008

The US remains one of the very few (if the only?) developed nation not to have signed and ratified the Law of the Sea Treaty, that regulates, among other things, the extent of continental shelves over which governments control undersea resources. Nevertheless, there are those in Washington DC who have recognized the essential national interest
embedded here, and a twelve-member interagency group, led by the State Department, has been formed to plan programs of surveying to provide the data necessary to support any future claims. So that is why John Diebold and I spent Tuesday in DC - giving presentations to this group (in a very grand conference room in the Department of the Interior) about the capabilities of our ship - Marcus G. Langseth - the only American flag vessel capable of full industry standard deep seismic imaging - a capability essential to the determination of the true extent of the US's natural boundaries. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 21, 2008

We hosted the editor of Columbia magazine and the CU Exec VP for Communications for separate visits this week, so we are certainly up-to-speed on all things related to the CU publicity machine!

We started the first round of interviews for applicants for the new position in the Director's Office - Assistant Director for Academic Affairs and Diversity; and we made significant progress with decisions regarding this year's Post Doc Fellows program. So far we have made three offers - two were accepted and one declined and I am working, as we speak, on making one more offer. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 14, 2008

The Geoscience and Microbiology mini-symposium on Monday was successful in content, but was not well attended so we still have work to do to spread the word about the important new research opportunities in this field. Thanks to Howard Shuman and his steering committee for putting this together.

Thursday was consumed by an EI Academic Committee in the morning followed by a meeting with the Liberty Science Center leadership and the President of Montclair State University to discuss possible cooperation in education initiatives. 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 7, 2008

After being out of the office last week I was playing catchup through Wednesday, when I had to go back down to DC.  The reason was to participate in a roundtable at NSF - tasked with defining research priorities in sustainable development. This was led by the Earth Institute - in particular by John Mutter and Jeff Sachs - but the attendees were (by design) predominantly non-CU, including luminaries like Bill Clark from Harvard and Steve Schneider from Stanford. The  
goal was to make the case that at the heart of sustainable development is a set of hard-core researchable basic research questions.  There was superb discussion at a very high level - but the determination of success will depend on how good a job we can do of writing up the report - and there is a short fuse on this because to have maximum impact we want to get the report into the system prior to a high-level retreat of NSF upper management scheduled for April. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 29, 2008

I have been on the road all week - although I am not sure that the first activity - a day-long Earth Institute retreat in the Bronx (of all places) qualifies as being 'on the road'.  It was held at the Wave Hill estate - never been there before - beautiful Hudson River-front locale, just off the Henry Hudson Parkway.

And then down to DC. I spent Wednesday afternoon at NSF - met with Jarvis Moyers, the interim Assistant Director for Geosciences, who is overjoyed that Tim Killeen will be taking this position 'permanently' (he will be an IPA) effective July 1st.; as well as with Julie Morris, Bill Lang, and Jim Holik. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 22, 2008

The week began with an interesting day over in Lamont Hall spent discussing marine mammal research priorities and opportunities with a group from NSF and the oil industry. We met Jim Holik (a Lamont graduate - Phil Rabinowitz
student) who has taken the critically important program manager position at NSF that used to be Sandy Shor. He will be the key contact for us in the future for running Langseth science operations.

On Monday I also met with the CU Senate sub-committee on Officers of Research to talk about our Research Professor plan - that was also a very useful and constructive meeting. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 15, 2008

Having survived Valentine's Day, the rest of the week was something of a blur, especially given weather bad enough, and changeable enough, to remind me of England. With today being the NSF OCE target date much time has been spent in reading and approving proposals and there is little more important than that - given our very existence depends upon their success. A couple of high profile events were the Earth Institute's two-day-long Global Change Roundtable downtown, and the very first visit to the campus of Columbia's new Chief Financial Officer Ann Sullivan on Friday afternoon.

Langseth arrives in Limon Costa Rica tonight, after a rough crossing from Galveston Texas, and will sail tomorrow under the leadership of Steve Holbrook. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 8, 2008

The Langseth returned to Galveston Tuesday after a very successful cruise collecting high bandwidth source signature data on the new airgun arrays. She sails for Costa Rica on Saturday and begins a full schedule of challenging operations through 2008. The crew and all the technicians on the ship, as well as everyone back here in the marine department continue to perform at herculean levels, facing up to, and overcoming, the challenges involved with bringing such a huge and complex machine - that is a multi-streamer seismic boat - to full operational status.

Wednesday afternoon was spent with the Lamont Advisory Board - a  particularly good meeting - in which some important decisions were made - and stimulated by a great science talk by Doug Martinson. The board wants to provide some funds directly to Lamont researchers to help 'seed' new and innovative research projects. The amounts of money will be small to start, but I think it will grow.  I will send out an a formal announcement next week that lays out the selection criteria etc that will be used for the disbursement of these funds.  The money is coming from direct donations from the Board members themselves, so they feel truly invested in the project. 

Lamont Weekly Report, February 1, 2008

Of the twenty-odd separate appointments in my diary for this past week, the Earth Institute External Advisory Board Meeting and the second meeting of the Columbia Climate Center Steering Committee are probably the most worthy of note. And tonight I am attending a  celebration hosted by the Consul General of Norway to mark the New  York City International Polar Weekend at the American Museum of  Natural History. Two full afternoons of activities and presentations on Saturday and Sunday at AMNH feature many (in fact mostly) Lamont and Columbia folks - stop by - it will be worth it. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 25, 2008

Having ExCom and a Faculty on the same day (like today) is just not good for my constitution, so I will talk about something else... Just as LDEO led the world in bringing multichannel seismics to academic research three decades ago, so we have again attained a first (as far as I know) of being the first academic general purpose research vessel to tow multiple hydrophone streamers (enabling practical collection of 3D data sets). A couple of days ago R/V Marcus G. Langseth had three 6km long hydrophone streamers deployed, towing them successfully a few tens of meters apart, and learning the many challenges of rigging and ship handling. It will be a steep learning curve for us in the coming months as we bring this new capability to the academic community. The goal was to deploy four streamers - we did not make that - the weather in the Gulf (and the reliability of the weather forecasts) has been very poor over the last couple of weeks so we lost many days of working time. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 18, 2008

I hope everyone saw Robin Bell and Doug Martinson on the NBC Nightly News on Monday - if you missed them, the video clip can be accessed from the front page of our (great, new) website.

We welcomed Terry Plank and Geoff Abers as our latest new recruits to the Lamont staff this week - a very happy day - two of the world's best researchers in their respective fields who will undoubtedly help us build Lamont's reputation as global leaders in the earth sciences. And as icing on the cake, it was announced that Terry has been elected as a Fellow of AGU! Congratulations Terry! 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 11, 2008

I flew out to Bermuda on Tuesday to spend three days with the leaders of ocean institutions from around the world. The unusual ten-year-old international entity hosting this meeting (Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean - POGO) is working to play a bigger role in the planning for GEOSS (Global Earth Observing). The breadth of international representation was impressive - Director-level folks from fifteen different nations, plus many government representatives. The meeting exceeded expectations (mine at least) with regard to the substance of the dialog, and was an 'eye-opener' with regard to the level of coastal and ocean observation activity world-wide. It was something of a novelty to hear the representative from the Chinese Academy of Sciences defining the direct economic benefit of multi-million dollar investments in coastal monitoring, impressive to hear the British describe the operational predictions from models assimilating observations in real-time from the Irish Sea, and the six or seven decades of data from Plymouth's Continuous Plankton Recorder program, though seen before, never cease to make the case strongly for sustained programs of careful and systematic ocean observations. 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 4, 2008

I expected this short three-day week to be busy, and it was - but curiously it was spent not doing a single thing that I expected to be doing... so the progress I made catching up over the Holidays slipped away.

We have been making a lot of progress with effort certifications in recent days, but we still, as an institution have a way to go in order to meet our January 15th deadline. In case you think that, as Director, I escape this task, let me tell you that I have certified around forty folks so far this week. 


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