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  • August 18, 2017

    Last week, just days before Central Park’s big Ivory Crush, a Lamont-Doherty geochemist and his colleague sawed off samples of the confiscated ivory for DNA testing and radiocarbon dating. Their results could determine where and when each elephant was killed—which could help catch the poachers responsible.

  • July 19, 2017

    David Goldberg and Peter Kelemen, scientists at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, are at the forefront of carbon capture and storage research. In this video, they discuss their work and how it will contribute to carbon management solutions and strengthen society’s resilience to climate change.

  • July 13, 2017

    Rising temperatures due to global warming will make it harder for many aircraft around the world to take off in coming decades, says a new study. During the hottest parts of the day, 10 to 30 percent of fully loaded planes may have to remove some fuel, cargo or passengers, or else wait for cooler hours to fly, the study concludes. The study, which is the first such global analysis, appears today in the journal Climatic Change.

  • July 12, 2017

    One of the largest icebergs ever, roughly the size of Delaware just broke off Antartica according to scientists who have been observing the area for years. While it’s not unusual for ice shelves to calve, many in the climate community fear that the breaking of Larsen C may be a signal of other events to come

  • July 05, 2017

    Climate change could turn one of Africa’s driest regions wet, according to a new study. Scientists have found evidence in computer simulations for a possible abrupt change in the Sahel, a region long characterized by aridity and political instability. In the study, just published in the journal Earth System Dynamics, the authors detected a self-amplifying mechanism that they say might kick in once the planet’s average temperature goes beyond 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times. This threshold, defined as the global danger limit by the Paris climate agreement, could be reached before the end of this century.

  • July 05, 2017

    Iron particles catching a ride on glacial meltwater washed out to sea are likely fueling a recently discovered summer algal bloom off the southern coast of Greenland, according to a new study.

    Microalgae, also known as phytoplankton, are plant-like marine microorganisms that form the base of the food web in many parts of the ocean. “Phytoplankton serve as food for all of the fish and animals that live there. Everything that eats is eating them ultimately,” said Kevin Arrigo, a biological oceanographer at Stanford University and lead author of the study.

  • June 27, 2017

    A warming climate is not just melting the Arctic’s sea ice; it is stirring the remaining ice faster, increasing the odds that ice-rafted pollution will foul a neighboring country’s waters, says a new study.

  • June 26, 2017

    Christine McCarthy, a geophysicist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, scrunches blocks of ice between hunks of rock to study how ice behaves under pressure. Her work provides an important piece of the puzzle of how glaciers move, what makes them speed up, and how they are contributing to sea level rise as the climate warms.

  • June 23, 2017

    An interdisciplinary team of scientists has discovered that, contrary to general scientific belief, iron in nondissolved particle form can stimulate phytoplankton growth, and that the chemical form that particulate iron takes is critical to ocean photosynthesis.

  • June 23, 2017

    The Center has awarded nearly $1 million to four scientists whose research will improve understanding of how climate change impacts the essentials of human sustainability.

  • June 16, 2017

    Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), have been around since the early 1900s. Originally used for military operations, they became more widely used after about 2010 when electronic technology got smaller, cheaper and more efficient, prices on cameras and sensors dropped, and battery power improved. Where once scientists could only observe earth from above by using manned aircraft or satellites, today they are expanding, developing and refining their research thanks to drones.

  • June 12, 2017

    Superstorm Sandy was a wake-up call for a lot of people in New York City, including Adam Sobel, who’s spent more than two decades studying the physics of weather and climate. He spent a lot of time during and after the storm talking to the media about what was happening, and why. He says the intense public interest made clear to him the need to find ways to apply the esoteric physics of atmosphere and oceans so we can be better prepared for the next extreme event.

  • June 12, 2017

    In November 1983, physical oceanographer Arnold Gordon was the Chief Scientist on the R/V Knorr, sailing around the southern tip of Africa, when the characteristics of his water samples came in terribly off. The temperature and the salinity of the water his team collected did not match the profile of the Southeast Atlantic Ocean. He had seen there characteristics before though, and soon, with more data, he confirmed that this clearer-blue “blob” of water they floated on top of was actually water from the Indian Ocean, coming in through a leak. This water, flowing from the Indian Ocean into the Atlantic, became known as the “Agulhas leakage” and helped us understand how the ocean’s salt is circulated back into the North Atlantic Ocean.

  • June 08, 2017

    Access to adequate fresh water supplies is a critically important societal challenge posed by climate change. With rising heat and shifting rainfall patterns, and reduced water storage resilience, fresh water supplies are already diminishing in the western United States, Mexico, the Middle East, and Mediterranean. Water shortages have been implicated in recent international conflict, and a recent Department of Defense study underscores the geopolitical importance of this problem.

  • June 07, 2017

    The 2004 disaster movie “The Day After Tomorrow” depicted the cataclysmic effects—superstorms, tornadoes and deep freezes— resulting from the impacts of climate change. In the movie, global warming had accelerated the melting of polar ice, which disrupted circulation in the North Atlantic Ocean, triggering violent changes in the weather. Scientists pooh-poohed the dire scenarios in the movie, but affirmed that climate change could indeed affect ocean circulation—could it shut down the Gulf Stream?

  • June 02, 2017

    In light of the Trump administration’s decision to pull out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, we have collected resources and commentary from across the Earth Institute relevant to the implications, and the basics of the agreement. Continue to check back here as we update this page with new reactions from Earth Institute experts.

  • June 02, 2017

    Trump has aligned himself with the forces that deny scientific facts and economic realities. History will judge him harshly; our allies and most Americans already do. The law will need to play a major role in pushing back against the attempted dismantling of our environmental and health protections. —Michael B. Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law

  • June 01, 2017

    In recent years, scientists have discovered hundreds of lakes lying hidden deep beneath the Antarctic ice sheet. Now a team of researchers has found the remains of at least one sub-ice lake that existed when the ice was far more extensive, in sediments on the Antarctic continental shelf. The discovery is significant because it is thought that such lakes may have accelerated the retreat of glaciers in the past, and could do so again. Their study appears this week in the journal Nature Communications.

  • May 31, 2017

    Antarctica’s ice locks up enough fresh water to inundate coastal regions around the globe. And the ice is on the move: The continent’s vast glaciers are sliding toward the coast and out over the ocean, forming huge ice shelves that in some places are collapsing. Researchers from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory have spent the last two Antarctic summers flying over the massive Ross Ice Shelf, deploying a custom-made package of instruments to probe the ice. Their goal: to untangle the interactions between ice, ocean and land, to try and gauge the effects of warming climate.

  • May 31, 2017

    The world may be getting set up for similar situation now, they say. Over the past 50 years, the middle and high latitudes in the northern hemisphere have warmed roughly twice as much as the corresponding latitudes in the southern hemisphere, and this disparity may continue to grow as Arctic sea ice continues to decline. Putnam and Broecker predict that as the atmosphere warms more quickly in the north than in the south, the thermal equator and tropical and mid-latitude rain bands will continue to march northward, but migrate less-so southward during the northern winter months.

  • May 22, 2017

    Billy D’Andrea, a Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory paleoclimatologist and Center for Climate and Life Fellow is currently doing fieldwork in Norway’s Lofoten Islands. He’s interested in the natural factors that may have influenced the growth of northern agriculture and rise of violent Viking chieftains during the Iron Age, ca. 500 BC to 1100 AD.

  • May 22, 2017

    Falling sulfur dioxide emissions in the United States are expected to substantially increase rainfall in Africa’s semi-arid Sahel, while bringing slightly more rain to much of the U.S., according to a new study in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres.

  • May 18, 2017

    For years, scientists have been warning of a so-called “hot spot” of accelerated sea-level rise along the northeastern U.S. coast. But accurately modeling this acceleration as well as variations in sea-level rise from one region to another has proven challenging.

  • May 11, 2017

    Scientists aren’t typically known to be emotional, but recently, when I faced a room packed with colleagues, media and my six-month-old daughter, who was wearing her little sunhat and smiling from her perch in my husband’s arms, I had to fight back tears. I had been asked to speak at a press conference addressing the importance of funding for climate science, and I knew it was the right time and place to speak out.

  • May 05, 2017

    As can be seen above, the Waggonwaybreen glacier in Svalbard, Norway, has retreated substantially since 1900. Svalbard’s glaciers are not only retreating, they are also losing about two feet of their thickness each year. Glaciers around the world have retreated at unprecedented rates and some have disappeared altogether. The melting of glaciers will affect people around the world, their drinking water supplies, water needed to grow food and supply energy, as well as global sea levels.

  • May 04, 2017

    By examining the cooling rate of rocks that formed more than 10 miles beneath the Earth’s surface, scientists led by The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences have found that water probably penetrates deep into the crust and upper mantle at mid-ocean spreading zones, the places where new crust is made.

    The finding adds evidence to one side of a long-standing debate on how magma from the Earth’s mantle cools to form the lower layers of crust.

  • April 19, 2017

    In the first such continent-wide survey, scientists have found extensive drainages of meltwater flowing over parts of Antarctica’s ice during the brief summer. Researchers already knew such features existed, but assumed they were confined mainly to Antarctica’s fastest-warming, most northerly reaches. Many of the newly mapped drainages are not new, but the fact they exist at all is significant; they appear to proliferate with small upswings in temperature, so warming projected for this century could quickly magnify their influence on sea level. An accompanying study looks at how such systems might influence the great ice shelves ringing the continent, which some researchers fear could collapse, bringing catastrophic sea-level rises. Both studies appear this week in the leading scientific journal Nature.

  • March 22, 2017

    Nearly 1,000 feet below the bed of the Dead Sea, scientists have found evidence that during past warm periods, the Mideast has suffered drought on scales never recorded by humans—a possible warning for current times. Thick layers of crystalline salt show that rainfall plummeted to as little as a fifth of modern levels some 120,000 years ago, and again about 10,000 years ago. Today, the region is drying again as climate warms, and scientists say it will get worse. The new findings may cause them to rethink how much worse, in this already thirsty and volatile part of the world.

  • March 06, 2017

    On every continent and every ocean, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory scientists are studying climate, geology, natural hazards, ecology and more.

  • March 02, 2017

    Food, it turns out, is the great unifier. One of the few bipartisan pieces of legislation to emerge in recent years was the Global Food Security Act of 2016, which allocated over $7 billion to improve agriculture and nutrition in developing countries. The rationale, beyond the altruistic aspects of the legislation, was that investing in the alleviation of hunger, malnutrition, and poverty worldwide is squarely in the national security interests of the U.S. With so much upside, it is no surprise that Democrat and Republican alike lined up in support of the act.

  • February 14, 2017

    Aaron Putnam sits atop a boulder high in the Sierras of central California, banging away with hammer and chisel to chip out a sample of ice age history. Each hunk of rock is a piece of a vast puzzle: How did our climate system behave the last time it warmed up like it’s doing today?

  • February 09, 2017

    A new Indonesian coral-based record of surface ocean salinity shows that the location of the most significant hydroclimatic feature in the Southern Hemisphere, the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ), a band of high clouds and precipitation, influences a major current in the far western Pacific Ocean.

  • February 06, 2017

    The annual summer monsoon that drops rain onto East Asia, an area with about a billion people, has shifted dramatically in the distant past, at times moving northward by as much as 400 kilometers and doubling rainfall in that northern reach. The monsoon’s changes over the past 10,000 years likely altered the course of early human cultures in China, say the authors of a new study.

  • February 02, 2017

    More than 85 percent of the ocean floor remains unmapped, leaving us in the dark about much of the earth’s topography. A global, non-profit effort will try to remedy that by 2030. The effort will affect everything from climate research and weather prediction to mineral resource exploration and fisheries.

  • February 02, 2017

    Many giant shelves of ice hanging off Antarctica into the Southern Ocean are now melting rapidly. But up to now, it has been a mystery why much of the resulting fresh water ends up in the depths instead of floating above saltier, denser ocean waters. Scientists working along one major ice shelf believe they have found the answer: earth’s rotation is pushing meltwater sideways as it bleed off the ice, preventing it from reaching the surface. The finding has implications for how ocean circulation may affect the planet’s future climate. The research was published this week in the journal Nature.

  • January 24, 2017

    Two scientists who untangled the complex forces that drive El Niño, the world’s most powerful weather cycle, have won the 2017 Vetlesen Prize for achievement in earth sciences. The $250,000 award will go to S. George Philander of Princeton University and Mark A. Cane of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. The men laid out the cyclic interaction of winds and currents that sweep the tropical Pacific Ocean every two to seven years, affecting weather across the world. Their work led to practical forecasts of such swings; institutions worldwide now monitor warning signs to help prepare for crop planting, disease control, and floods or droughts.

  • January 19, 2017

    Researchers studying the West Antarctic Peninsula marine ecosystem will recognize President Obama’s efforts to combat global warming by collecting climate data at an oceanographic station they named for the 44th president.

  • January 18, 2017

    Rainfall patterns in the Sahara during the six-thousand-year “Green Sahara” period have been revealed by analyzing marine sediments, according to new research.

    What is now the Sahara Desert was the home to hunter-gathers who made their living off the animals and plants that lived in the region’s savannahs and wooded grasslands 5,000 to 11,000 years ago.

  • January 17, 2017

    Natural disasters have caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide with associated costs of hundreds of billions of dollars in property damage. Providing timely warnings of damaging ground-shaking from earthquakes and the imminent arrival of tsunamis is an ongoing challenge. Networks of instruments developed in recent years by researchers at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and elsewhere have improved our ability to provide those predictions for vulnerable populations. A new pilot program led by Lamont aims to make those warnings earlier and more accurate.

  • January 05, 2017

    When summer temperatures rise in Greenland and the melt season begins, water pools on the surface, and sometimes disappears down holes in the ice. That water may eventually reach bedrock, creating a slipperier, faster slide for glaciers. But where does it go once it gets there, and what happens to it in the winter? A new study helps answer these questions.

  • January 01, 2017

    Across the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory campus, scientists are exploring undersea volcanoes, monitoring coastal erosion along hard-to-reach shorelines, and studying the movement of sea ice – all in real time. By loading drones with high-tech instruments and using satellites and undersea cables that are interacting with sensors in some of the most remote locations on Earth, they are uncovering the secrets of our planet.

  • December 15, 2016

    When a fault slips, the temperature can spike by hundreds of degrees, high enough to alter organic compounds in the rocks and leave a signature. A team of scientists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory has been developing methods to use those organic signatures to reconstruct past earthquakes and explore where those earthquakes started and stopped and how they moved through the fault zone. The information could eventually help scientists better understand what controls earthquakes.

  • December 14, 2016

    Off the coast of New Zealand, there is an area where earthquakes happen in slow-motion as two tectonic plates grind past one another. Unlike typical earthquakes that rupture over seconds, these slow-slip events take more than a week, creating an ideal lab for studying fault behavior along the shallow portion of a subduction zone.

  • December 13, 2016

    The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, and scientists are seeing the effects across ice and ecosystems. The average annual air temperature over Arctic land is now 3.5°C (6.5°F) warmer than it was 1900, Greenland is experiencing longer melting seasons, and this year’s spring snow cover extent set a record low in the North American Arctic, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s newly released 2016 Arctic Report Card.

  • December 13, 2016

    Most research databases are narrowly focused. They might contain only seismic data from earthquakes, for example, or chemical data from volcanic rocks. The Interdisciplinary Earth Data Alliance (IEDA)set out to create a different kind of research experience, and the result is fueling groundbreaking multi-disciplinary discoveries worldwide.

  • December 12, 2016

    Declassified spy satellite images are beginning to provide the first consistent look at how glaciers across the Himalayas are changing and what future water supplies might look like for millions of people who rely on their seasonal melt.Until now, knowledge about glacier mass change in the region has been spotty, with inconsistent measurements from glacier to glacier.

  • December 10, 2016

    The Center for Climate and Life has announced the selection of four junior and mid-career scientists as its 2017 Climate and Life Fellows. The Fellows program supports scientists to work on projects that accelerate our understanding of how climate impacts the security of food, water, and shelter, and to explore sustainable energy solutions.  

  • December 09, 2016

    The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation announced a $3.7 million grant to Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory to support research that couples state-of-the-art geophysical observations from unmanned aerial systems with a community-engaged research approach to bridge scientific and indigenous understanding of sea ice change in the Alaskan Arctic.

  • December 07, 2016

    Scientists have found evidence in a chunk of bedrock drilled from nearly two miles below the summit of the Greenland Ice Sheet that the ice nearly disappeared for an extended time in the last million years or so. The finding casts doubt on assumptions that Greenland has been relatively stable during the recent geological past, and implies that global warming could tip it into decline more precipitously than previously thought. Such a decline could cause rapid sea-level rise. The findings appear this week in the leading journal Nature.

  • December 07, 2016

    Earth scientists from around the world will be in San Francisco next week to share their latest discoveries at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting. You can watch several of their presentations live online through AGU On-Demand, including seven involving scientists from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University’s home for Earth science research. Three Lamont scientists are also being honored this year, and three others will be taking new positions in the AGU's leadership.

  • December 02, 2016

    The Arctic’s frozen ground contains large stores of organic carbon that have been locked in the permafrost for thousands of years. As global temperatures rise, that permafrost is starting to melt, raising concerns about the impact on the climate as organic carbon becomes exposed. A new study is shedding light on what that could mean for the future by providing the first direct physical evidence of a massive release of carbon from permafrost during a warming spike at the end of the last glacial period.

  • December 01, 2016

    A metal tube packed with scientific instruments parachuted into the ice-cold waters of Antarctica’s Ross Sea on Tuesday, marking a new frontier in polar research. This ALAMO float and five others being deployed over the coming weeks are the first explorers of their kind to begin profiling the water adjacent to Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf and sending back data in real time. Their mission: find vulnerabilities where warmer (but still near freezing) water from the deep ocean may be seeping in under the ice shelf and melting it from below. That information, paired with aerial surveys currently mapping the ice shelf and the sea floor beneath it, will help scientists assess the stability of the Ross Ice Shelf as they seek to understand how quickly Antarctica will lose ice in a warming world and what that will mean for sea level rise globally. 

  • December 01, 2016

    Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms kill people and damage property every year, with the largest U.S. impacts resulting from tornado outbreaks, sequences of tornadoes that occur in close succession. Last spring a research team led by Michael Tippett, associate professor of applied physics and applied mathematics at Columbia University’s School of Engineering, published a study showing that the average number of tornadoes during outbreaks – large-scale weather events that can last one to three days and span huge regions – had risen since 1954. But they were not sure why.

  • November 16, 2016

    In the far north, climate is warming two to three times faster than the global average. As a result, both tundra and boreal forests are undergoing massive physical and biological shifts. Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and other institutions are engaged in a long-term project to sort out what allows trees to survive or not in this borderline environment.

  • November 15, 2016

    A new study has found heightened concentrations of some common substances in drinking water near sites where hydraulic fracturing has taken place. The substances are not at dangerous levels and their sources are unclear, but the researchers say the findings suggest underground disturbances that could be harbingers of eventual water-quality problems. The study may be the first of its kind to spot such broad trends.

  • November 14, 2016

    Scientists analyzing a volcanic eruption at a mid-ocean ridge under the Pacific have come up with a somewhat contrarian explanation for what initiated it. Many scientists say undersea volcanism is triggered mainly by upwelling magma that reaches a critical pressure and forces its way up. The new study says the dominant force, at least in this case, was the seafloor itself – basically that it ripped itself open, allowing the lava to spill out. The eruption took place on the East Pacific Rise, some 700 miles off Mexico.

  • November 07, 2016

    Researchers analyzing African elephant tusks seized by global law enforcement have confirmed what many suspect: the illegal ivory trade, now running in high gear, is being fueled almost exclusively by recently killed animals. In the first study of its kind, researchers showed that almost all tusks studied came from animals killed less than three years before the tusks were seized—many probably much more recently. The study bolsters evidence of widespread poaching, and undercuts the idea that many tusks are illegal recycled from older stockpiles.

  • November 01, 2016

    Figuring out how far sea level rose during past warm periods in Earth’s history starts with a walk on the beach, a keen eye for evidence of ancient shorelines, and a highly accurate GPS system. The math isn’t as simple as subtracting the distance from the old shoreline to the water’s edge, though. As massive ice sheets retreated during past ice ages, their weight on the land below lifted and the land rebounded. On longer time scales, circulation within the Earth’s mantle has changed the shape and height of the crust, as well.

  • October 24, 2016

    Earth has limits to the amount of carbon dioxide in its atmosphere before the environment as we know it starts to change. Too much CO2 absorbed by the oceans makes the water more acidic. Too much in the atmosphere warms the planet. With emissions from our carbon-based economies rising, scientists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are developing way to prevent CO2 produced by power plants and industries from ever entering the atmosphere, and they are exploring ways to take CO2 out of the environment.

  • October 19, 2016

    A new film takes viewers from the eastern highlands of India to the booming lowland metropolis of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh—and explores an ever-more detailed picture of catastrophic earthquake threat that scientists are discovering under the region.

  • October 13, 2016

    A special section in the October issue of BioScience examines the effects of a single season of intense melting on two Antarctic ecosystems, tracking impacts all the way from microbial food webs to shifting penguin populations.

  • October 12, 2016

    The American Geophysical Union (AGU) election results are in, and three Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory scientists will be taking key leadership roles in the internationally influential Earth and space sciences organization: polar explorer Robin Bell will become AGU president-elect, Kerstin Lehnert will join the Board of Directors, and Robert F. Anderson will become Ocean Sciences Section president-elect.

  • October 11, 2016

    Twenty-three million years ago, the Antarctic Ice Sheet began to shrink, going from an expanse larger than today’s to one about half its modern size. Computer models suggested a spike in carbon dioxide levels as the cause, but the evidence was elusive – until now. Ancient fossilized leaves retrieved from a lake bed in New Zealand now show for the first time that carbon dioxide levels increased dramatically over a relatively short period of time as the ice sheet began to deteriorate. The findings raise new questions about the stability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet today as atmospheric CO2 concentrations rise to levels never before experienced by humans.

  • October 10, 2016

    A new study says that human-induced climate change has doubled the area affected by forest fires in the U.S. West over the last 30 years. According to the study, since 1984 heightened temperatures and resulting aridity have caused fires to spread across an additional 16,000 square miles than they otherwise would have—an area larger than the states of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined. The authors warn that further warming will increase fire exponentially in coming decades.

  • October 10, 2016

    Thousands of visitors toured the labs and crowded around science demonstrations on Saturday at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Open House 2016, a day of hands-on experiments and conversations with some of the world’s leading scientists in the Earth, environmental, and climate sciences.

  • October 05, 2016

    As the American Southwest grows hotter, the risk of severe, long-lasting megadroughts rises, passing 90 percent likelihood by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current pace, a new study says. If we aggressively reduce greenhouse gas emissions, however, we can cut that risk substantially, the authors write.

  • October 03, 2016

    Letters of recommendation – critical to young scientists’ chances of being hired for postdoctoral research positions – may be disadvantaging women from the very start of their careers, and the professors writing those letters may not realize it, a new study suggests.

  • September 27, 2016

    The high school students who spend their summers in the Secondary School Field Research Program (SSFRP) at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are quick to praise Program Director Bob Newton for being a pillar of support who has built their confidence, given them opportunities to hone their leadership skills, and helped them feel at home discussing research with some of the world’s leading scientists.

  • September 23, 2016

    When an earthquake strikes, it sends waves of energy ringing through the interior of the planet. The waves are too slow for us to hear in their original state, but speed them up and the earthquake’s global impact comes to life. A group of scientists and sound artists working with the Seismic Sound Lab at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are turning seismic waves into sound and images for an eye-opening educational performance about earthquakes and what seismic waves can tell us about our planet. You can see, hear and feel seismic data from enormous earthquakes, witness the patterns of decades of earthquakes in minutes, and see the seismic effect of ocean storms, including Hurricane Sandy, all as though you were inside the planet.

  • September 21, 2016

    Along the walls of Oceanographer Canyon, fish dart in and out of colorful anemone gardens and sea creatures send up plumes of sand and mud as they burrow. Bill Ryan, an oceanographer at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, watched the scenes through the windows of a mini research submarine in 1978 as he became one of the few people to explore the seafloor canyons that President Obama has now designated a national monument.

  • September 13, 2016

    Gaze into the viewing screen of an electron microscope, and you slip into a world of living geometry, where the plates surrounding a tiny coccolithophore become an intricately armored sphere and the spikes of a radiolarian look like daggers. Dee Breger took us into that world through her photographs of objects too small to see with the human eye.

  • September 09, 2016

    Seismologist Won-Young Kim heard the first reports of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center as he drove to his job at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. From his office on the west bank of the Hudson River, 21 miles north of lower Manhattan, Kim runs a network of seismic instruments that monitors the U.S. Northeast for earthquakes. When he got to work, everyone was glued to the radio. Soon, he was inundated by calls from government officials and reporters. In the initial chaos, it was unclear exactly what had hit, and when; had the seismographs picked up anything?

  • September 06, 2016

    The raw materials of some volcanic islands are shaped by some of the same processes that form diamonds deep under the continents, according to a new study. The study asserts that material from diamond-forming regions journeys nearly to earth’s core and back up to form such islands, a process that could take two and a half billion years or longer – more than half of earth’s entire history. The research challenges some prevailing notions about the workings of the deep earth, and their connections to the surface.

  • September 01, 2016

    This past July was Earth’s hottest month since record keeping began, but warming isn’t the only danger climate change holds in store. Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in the simultaneous occurrence of extremely cold winter days in the Eastern United States and extremely warm winter days in the Western U.S., according to a new study. Human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases are likely driving this trend, the study finds.

  • August 31, 2016

    Lamont's Andy Juhl and a team of scientists working with the non-profit Riverkeeper conducted an unprecedented health check of the entire Hudson River system, starting at the headwaters high in the Adirondacks and going all the way to New York Harbor, where the river meets the ocean. They released their results today, giving the 315-mile-long Hudson River a spotty but mostly positive health report with some important insights.

  • August 31, 2016

    The ocean plays a vital role in Earth’s climate system, shaping weather and climate on land. Lamont's Ryan Abernathey and Richard Seager are studying how changes in the ocean cause sea surface temperature to vary, and how these anomalies drive changes in atmospheric circulation to create extreme weather events.

  • August 24, 2016

    In a new study, Lamont's Michael Previdi and Lorenzo Polvani found that the effect of rising temperatures on snowfall in Antarctica has so far been overshadowed by the frozen continent's large natural climate variability. By mid-century, however, as temperatures continue to rise, the effect of human-induced warming on Antarctica's net snow accumulation should emerge above the noise, and the increase in snowfall could begin to help partially offset sea level rise.

  • August 19, 2016

    Large-scale groundwater pumping is opening doors for dangerously high levels of arsenic to enter some of Southeast Asia’s aquifers, with water now seeping in through riverbeds with arsenic concentrations more than 100 times the limits of safety, according to a new study from scientists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, MIT, and Hanoi University of Science.

  • August 18, 2016

    A storm that dumped as much as 20 inches of rain over three days flooded thousands of homes in Louisiana in mid-August. Lamont's Adam Sobel writes about the discussion around the role of climate change and attribution studies.  

  • August 05, 2016

    Human actions are changing the oceans’ chemistry. To predict how marine ecosystems are going to respond to these changes, we need to understand how marine biology and ocean chemistry interact today. This week, biologist and geochemists from around the world gathered at Lamont to find new ways to combine their expertise to analyze GEOTRACES data on trace elements and nutrients.

  • July 27, 2016

    A new, donor-led internship program offered by the Center for Climate and Life provides high school students the opportunity to gain valuable hands-on research experience while getting a feel for what a career in science involves.

  • July 25, 2016

    In the big data era, the modern computer is showing signs of age. The sheer number of observations now streaming from land, sea, air and space has outpaced the ability of most computers to process it. As the United States races to develop an “exascale” machine up to the task, a group of engineers and scientists at Columbia have teamed up to pursue solutions of their own.

  • July 14, 2016

    Powerful tropical cyclones like the super typhoon that lashed Taiwan with 150-mile-per-hour winds last week and then flooded parts of China are expected to become even stronger as the planet warms. That trend hasn’t become evident yet, but it will, scientists say.

  • July 11, 2016

    A huge earthquake may be building beneath Bangladesh, the most densely populated nation on earth. Scientists say they have new evidence of increasing strain there, where two tectonic plates underlie the world’s largest river delta. They estimate that at least 140 million people in the region could be affected if the boundary ruptures; the destruction could come not only from the direct results of shaking, but changes in the courses of great rivers, and in the level of land already perilously close to sea level.

  • July 06, 2016

    A new study carried out on the floor of Pacific Ocean provides the most detailed view yet of how the earth’s mantle flows beneath the ocean’s tectonic plates. The findings, published in the journal Nature, appear to upend a common belief that the strongest deformation in the mantle is controlled by large-scale movement of the plates. Instead, the highest resolution imaging yet reveals smaller-scale processes at work that have more powerful effects.

  • July 02, 2016

    A 4,000-foot-high mountainside collapsed in Glacier Bay National Park in a massive landslide that spread debris for miles across the glacier below. It was a powerful reminder of the instability of the mountains in this part of Alaska and the risks that that instability creates. Scientists at Lamont discovered the landslide from its seismic signature and are studying it and another recent Alaska landslide and tsunami to improve understanding of landslide risks to this region and globally.

  • June 30, 2016
    There was a period during the last ice age when temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere went on a rollercoaster ride, plummeting and then rising again every 1,500 years or so. Those abrupt climate changes wreaked havoc on ecosystems, but their cause has been something of a mystery. New evidence published this week in the leading journal Science shows for the first time that the ocean’s overturning circulation slowed during every one of those temperature plunges – at times almost stopping.
  • June 27, 2016

    Antarctic sea ice is constantly on the move as powerful winds blow it away from the coast and out toward the open ocean. A new study shows how that ice migration may be more important for the global ocean circulation than anyone realized.

  • June 16, 2016

    A new initiative aims to help homeowners in New Jersey cope with arsenic contamination in private wells—a problem that has only come to light in recent years, and about which many homeowners are still unaware. In a series of fact sheets and videos, the project provides important information about the problem to help homeowners understand what may be going on and how to clean up their water.

  • June 15, 2016

    Engaging educators through professional development workshops, public events, and lectures is an important part of the Observatory’s education and outreach mission. Earlier this month, two dozen middle- and high-school educators joined a group of Lamont scientists at a workshop to learn about paleoclimate techniques and how computer models can expand understanding of the causes of hydroclimate variability and changes over the last several millennia.

  • June 09, 2016

    Scientists and engineers working at a power plant in Iceland have shown for the first time that carbon dioxide emissions can be pumped into the earth and changed chemically to a solid within monthsradically faster than anyone had predicted. The finding may help address a fear that so far has plagued the idea of capturing and storing CO2 underground: that emissions could seep back into the air or even explode out. 

  • June 09, 2016

    The tropics are already hot, and they’re getting hotter as global temperatures rise. A new study offers a glimpse into just how severely a couple more degrees could disrupt the region’s ecological map. The authors, from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the University of California, Berkeley, looked at potential effects of a 2°C rise in the average global temperature this century and asked: what would happen if all species tried to migrate to keep their average environmental temperature unchanged?

  • June 09, 2016

    Following record-high temperatures and melting records in northwest Greenland in summer 2015, a new study provides the first evidence linking melting in Greenland to the anticipated effects of a phenomenon known as Artic amplification.

  • June 08, 2016

    Who were our earliest ancestors? How and when did they evolve into modern humans? And how do we define “human,” anyway? Was it when some long-ago ancestor stood and walked; grew a brain of a certain size; or figured out how to make stone tools, control fire, plant crops or brew beer? The possible answers to such questions are themselves evolving, as anthropologists and archaeologists including Lamont's Chris Lepre continually discover new fossils and artifacts that upset old theories and push the known dates of evolutionary milestones back ever further into the past.

  • June 06, 2016

    To understand how quickly ice from glaciers can raise sea level or how moons far across the solar system evolved to hold vast, ice-covered oceans, we need to be able to measure the forces at work. A new instrument designed and built at Lamont's Rock and Ice Mechanics Lab with seed funding from a special innovation fund and support from NASA does just that.

  • June 06, 2016

    Buried deep in seabed sediments off east Africa, scientists have uncovered a 24-million-year record of vegetation trends in the region where humans evolved. The authors say the record lends weight to the idea that we developed key traits—flexible diets, large brains, complex social structures and the ability to walk and run on two legs—while adapting to the spread of open grasslands. The study appears today in a special human-evolution issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

  • May 30, 2016

    Scientists working in the Gulf of Mexico have found that contaminants from the massive 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill lingered in the subsurface water for months after oil on the surface had been swept up or dispersed. In a new study led by Lamont's Beizhan Yan, they detail how remnants of the oil, black carbon from burning oil slicks and contaminants from drilling mud combined with microscopic algae and other marine debris to descend in a “dirty blizzard” to the seafloor.

  • May 24, 2016

    The plate tectonics revolution was a data revolution. The young scientists who led the charge 50 years ago showed how asking the right questions and having access to a wide range of data could open doors to an entirely new understanding of the planet. This week, those scientists and the generations they inspired are meeting at Lamont to look back on their discoveries and to discuss the scientific developments over the decades since that continue to build our understanding of the behavior of Earth’s tectonic plates.

  • May 19, 2016

    The field of paleoceanography emerged in the middle of the last century as scientists began collecting large numbers of deep-sea sediment cores and figuring out how to date the layers that had recorded Earth’s climate history. John Imbrie was one of its pioneers.

  • May 17, 2016

    On a ledge just inside the lip of Chile’s Quizapu volcanic crater, Philipp Ruprecht was furiously digging a trench. Here at an elevation of 10,000 feet, a 1,000-foot plunge loomed just yards away, and wind was whipping dust off his shovel. But the volcanologist was excited. Ruprecht had just found this spot, topped with undisturbed wedding-cake layers of fine, black material that the crater had vomited from the deep earth some 84 years ago. Samples from the currently inactive site might shed light on its exceedingly violent behavior.

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