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.
Director's Weekly Reports
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.
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:
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.
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!
This week, Visiting Senior Research Scientist Al Hofmann received the good news that he has been elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society. According to Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, “this year’s newly elected Fellows and Foreign Members of the Royal Society are testament that science is a global endeavour and excellent ideas transcend borders” (https://royalsociety.org/news/2018/05/distinguished-scientists-elected-fellows-royal-society-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 (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-03/new-york-ties-record-high-temperature-now-be-ready-for-a-repeat).
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.
This week has led up to Earth Day 2018 this Sunday (https://www.earthday.org/). 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. Please join me in thanking Andrew Goodwillie and his co-organizers of Earth Day events as well as the staff of the Lamont Café for their participation.
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 (https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=nsf18061).
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.
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.
Last Friday afternoon, Alexandra Bausch successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis on the “Interactive effects of ocean acidification and other environmental drivers on planktonic microorganisms in marine ecosystems.” Her thesis committee included Bob Anderson, Hugh Ducklow, Kevin Griffin, Andy Juhl, and Chris Hayes from the University of Southern Mississippi. Congratulations, Dr. Bausch!
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 (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/22/nyregion/new-york-today-commuting-after-the-storm.html).
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 (http://www.piday.org/), complete with a dedicated rap number (http://www.piday.org/2009/pi-rap-by-amy-mcconnel/).
This week was punctuated by a winter storm Wednesday that dropped snow unevenly across the region (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/07/nyregion/winter-storm-snow-transit-power.html) 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.
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 (https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/2/27/17053284/arctic-heat-wave-north-pole-climate) quoting Marco Tedesco.
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 (https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/NYC-Weather-Record-High-Temperatures-Heat-Wave-Winter-Storm-Team-4-474678743.html), and more seasonal weather at the end of the week. Every roller coaster ride comes to an end.
This week began on Sunday with the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (http://www.un.org/en/events/women-and-girls-in-science-day/), 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.
It has been an unusual week. A magnitude 6.4 earthquake off the Taiwan coast took lives and toppled buildings Tuesday (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/07/world/asia/taiwan-earthquake-search-survivors.html), and one day later a magnitude 2.2 earthquake north of Lamont was felt locally (http://www.news12.com/story/37446950/earthquake-shakes-hudson-valley).
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 (https://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=183233&CultureCode=en). Previous recipients of the Wollaston Medal over its long history include Charles Darwin, Charles Lyell, and G. K. Gilbert. Past Wollaston medalists from Lamont include Maurice Ewing (1969), Wally Broecker (1990), and Maureen Raymo (2014).