sandy-nasa FROM THE FIELD
Hurricane Sandy

Building Resilience: Post-Sandy Resources for Journalists

by |August 15, 2013


sandy ny skyline

(Karen Peterson/flickr Creative Commons)

Earth Institute scientists across many disciplines are playing key roles in helping New York move forward following Hurricane Sandy. Many were already advising the city about the potential effects of sea-level rise, storm surge, climate change and related issues before the storm hit, For better or worse, their predictions were vindicated, and they now continue efforts to help make infrastructure and population more resilient and sustainable. Researchers include experts in the physics of extreme weather; impacts of climate change; disaster response; transportation infrastructure; and the sociological, cultural, legal and political aspects of climate and natural catastrophes. Below is a partial list of researchers, from our centers including Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the Center for Climate Systems Research, the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, the Center for Climate Change Law, the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions, and the newly joined National Center for Disaster Preparedness. Journalists may contact researchers directly, or call press officers listed at bottom. Many articles by and about the scientists, and their previous media appearances, are at our Hurricane Sandy blog. Much media is also on our In the Media (Big City) page.

(This page last updated: Oct. 22, 2013)


Roger N. Anderson

Research scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Anderson is an expert on the New York area power grid. He is a consultant for the electric company Con Edison, in its ongoing efforts to design “smart” grids that use computing power to minimize overloads. He is a strong advocate of burying power lines underground and taking other steps to head off power outages.

Home page

Article by Anderson on power transmission

Article on “microgrids”

Contact:,   713 398-7430, 212-870-2271


Tony Barnston

Chief forecaster, International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI). Barnston is an expert on cyclical factors that drive large-scale weather systems over months and years, as well as in the short term. These include phenomena such as the El Nino/La Nina oscillation over the Pacific Ocean, and similar systems over the Atlantic. The IRI’s forecasts are used globally to anticipate extreme weather of various kinds, and help societies adapt to extreme weather.

Home page

Contact::, 845 680 4447


Steven Cohen

cohenExecutive director, The Earth Institute. Cohen is a prolific writer and commentator on urban infrastructure and resilience, environment, climate change and related political and cultural issues. He heads the Earth Institute’s educational programs focusing on sustainable business and government practice. A native New Yorker, he previously served with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


Huffington Post blog

Contact:, 212-854-4445. Assistant: Courtney Small   212-854-4445, 347- 417-4155



George Deodatis

Professor, Columbia Engineering School

Sea level, climate and storm surge effects on transport, urban infrastructure; storm barriers, other long-term engineering solutions

Home page

NY State report on response to climate change

Contact:  212-854-9728


Michael Gerrard

Director, Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School. Gerrard is a leading expert in environmental law–particularly in regard to climate change, and the effects of rising sea level on coastal and island areas. Recently, he and colleagues have focused on the legal implications of natural disasters, and how governments can address issues such as buying out owners in flood-afflicted areas.


Home page

Contact:, 212-854-3287


Lisa Goddard

Director, International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI). The IRI’s forecasts are used globally to anticipate extreme weather of various kinds, and help societies adapt to extreme weather. Goddard is expert on medium-term climate forecasting, the effects of weather,climate and sea level on infrastructure, and physical adaptations to shifting climate. She is a member of the National Academy of Science’s Climate Research Committee.

Home page

Contact:, 845-680-4865


Vivien Gornitz

gornitzSpecial research scientist, Center for Climate Systems Research. In the 1990s. Gornitz was one of the first to warn of the threats posed by sea-level rise and other effects related to climate change for New York and other coastal cities. The topic is explored in her new book Rising Seas: Past, Present and Future. She is a contributor to the 2013 report of the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC).

NPCC 2013 report

1998 story on threat of rising seas to New York

Rising Seas: Past, Present and Future



Timothy M. Hall

Research scientist, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Hall studies atmosphere and ocean dynamics, including how large storms such as Sandy are generated. He recently published a widely cited report outlining the physics of such storms. While he suggests they are very rare, his work suggests they will become more likely in the future due to climate change.

Home page

Paper in Geophysical Research Letters

Contact:     212-678-5652


Radley Horton

hortonResearch scientist, Center for Climate Systems Research/Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Horton stuides the effects of climate and extreme weather on New York City, and ways for the city to adapt. He is a member of several official task forces including New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC), appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Long before the hurricane, the NPCC made projections on sea level and other issues, showing which areas might be affected by large storms, and recommendations for the city to adapt. Horton continues his work on the panel.

Home page

2013 report from New York City Panel on Climate Change

2013 article on updated projections and adaptations for New York City

2011 report on climate change effects on New York State

New York City’s 2009 blueprint for climate resilience

New York City Climate Change Task Force

Contact:, 212-678-5649


Klaus Jacob

jacobResearch scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. A seismologist by training, since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Jacob has turned his attention to coastal hazards. He was the first to accurately map the now-proven flood hazards to New York subways and other infrastructure, and is coauthor of several key reports on this issue. Due to the accuracy of his predictions and his insistent voice, following Sandy (which flooded his own riverfront home) TIME magazine named him one of the “People Who Mattered” in 2012. He is a member of the New York City Panel on Climate Change, appointed by Mayor Bloomberg.

Home page

Video interview with Jacob from his home

TIME article on Jacob

2012 report on New York transport’s vulnerability 

Response to Climate Change in New York report

2013 PBS NOVA program featuring Jacob

The Man Who Warned of Sandy

Contact:, 845 365-8440


Andrew Juhl

Research scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. A biologist, Juhl studies storm-induced water pollution, especially microbial sewage. In coming days, Juhl and colleagues have a long-term program to test water quality by boat around Manhattan, Brooklyn and other areas in New York and along the Hudson River.

Home page

Drug-resistant bacteria found in Hudson

Sewage continues to plague Hudson

Contact:  845-365-8150


Patrick Kinney

Professor, Mailman School of Public Health. Kinney is an expert in urban public-health issues and epidemiology, especially in relation to weather and climate. Recently, he and colleagues projected increasing deaths in coming decades in New York City due to increasingly extreme heat waves during spring, summer and fall. He is a member of the New York City Panel on Climate Change, appointed by Mayor Bloomberg.

Home page

Heat-Related Deaths in Manhattan Projected to Rise

Contact:, 212-305-3663


Arthur Lerner-Lam

Deputy director, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; Director, Center for Hazards and Risk Research. Lerner-Lam, a seismologist by training, is a broad thinker in the field of risk and hazard assessment, and disaster planning. He has examining issues globally in places like China and Haiti, as well as locally, in regard to populations at risk from earthquakes, storms and other disasters.

Home page

Q&A with Foreign Policy magazine

Contact:, 845-365-8348


Simon Mason

Chief climate scientist, International Research Institute for Climate and Society. Mason is an expert in the physics of weather patterns, and in applying medium-term climate forecasts to save lives. He has worked extensively with the World Meteorological Organization. and the International Red Cross/Red Crescent to improve the practical uses of weather forecasting.

Home page

Global partnership to save lives 

Contact: o  845-680-4514  h 845-735-0151


John Mutter

mutterDirector, Earth Institute PhD program in Sustainable Development; Professor, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory & School of International and Public Affairs. Originally a marine geophysicist, Mutter is has become expert in assessing human and infrastructure vulnerability to disasters, and has studied the factors that make some populations more vulnerable, including poverty and age. He previously led the ‘Katrina Death List’ project, a definitive study of mortality in the 2005 hurricane that hit New Orleans.

Home page


Katrina Death List

Contact:, 212-854-0716





Benjamin Orlove

Co-director, Center for Research on Environmental Decisions. Orlove, an anthropologist, studies public reactions to disasters, warnings of potential disasters, and effective ways to provide information to vulnerable populations. He addresses questions at the intersection of psychology, sociology and public policy. His studies include the public’s reactions to Hurricane Sandy.

Home page

Orlove opinion piece for CNN

Understanding Public Reaction to Hurricane Warnings

Contact:, 212-854 1543, 530 400 3074


Irwin Redlener and staff

Director, National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP), which recently joined the Earth Institute. Redlener, a pediatrician and professor of public health, leads a staff that studies and tries to improve how communities and governments prepare for, and recover from, disasters of all types. The center’s work combines policy, research and education. Among other things, it has trained 100,000 public-health practitioners around the country to deal with emerging disasters, and tested new strategies to prepare the highest-risk populations. It also investigates how to rebuild communities to be more sustainable and resilient. It has a special focus on the needs of children.

David Abramson, deputy director; professor sociomedical sciences; studies disaster response and resiliency

Karen Levin, associate director, planning and response; registered public-health nurse, works closely with NYC Dept, of Health in surveillance; has responded to past events including 9/11

NCDP website

NCDP joins Earth Institute

NCDP videos

Contact:  212-535-9707. Assistant: Andrea Braxmeier  212.535.9400 x294, 610.417.1107


Cynthia Rosenzweig

rosenzweigHead of Columbia University Climate Impacts Group; director, Center for Climate Systems Research; co-chair, New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC). Appointed in 2009 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to provide science to make the city more resilient and sustainable, Rosenzweig has long studied New York’s vulnerability to sea-level rise, storms and related issues. The NPCC’s projections were borne out by Sandy, and many of its recommendations for strengthening infrastructure were already in motion when the storm hit. The panel made an updated report this spring, which has been incorporated into the city’s rebuilding plan, and it continues its work. Rosenzweig also helps lead the Urban Climate Change Research Network, an organization that seeks to help cities worldwide cope with climate shifts.

Q&A with Rosenzweig

Rosenzweig interview on Democracy Now!

2013 NYC Special Initiative for Resiliency and Rebuilding

2013 report from New York City Panel on Climate Change

2013 article on updated projections and adaptations for New York City

2011 report on climate change effects on New York State

New York City’s 2009 blueprint for climate resilience

New York City Climate Change Task Force

Urban Climate Change Research Network

Contact:, 212- 678-5626, 5562  Assistant: Somayya Ali  sa2619@columbia,edu  212-678-5563


Elliott Sclar

Director, Center for Sustainable Urban Development. Sclar, who works both globally and locally, is an expert in urban planning, sustainable development, and effects of climate on cities, especially in the developing world.


Center for Sustainable Urban Development

Video: Trends in Urban Mass Transit

Contact:, 212-854-3548


Adam Sobel

sobelResearch scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory/Columbia Dept of Applied Physics & Math. Sobel is an expert on U.S. East Coast weather, and the general physics of extreme storms and their connection to climate. Before the storm and its aftermath, he played a leading role in explaining the storm to media. He is currently working on a book about Hurricane Sandy, to be published in fall 2014 by Harper Collins.

Home page

Sobel explains the storm’s gestation    

Sobel speaks with WNYC  

Contact:, 212-854-6587


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 More information:

Kevin Krajick 212-854-9729

Kim Martineau  845-365-8708

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