Category: Earth Sciences

Vetlesen Science Prize Celebrated at Columbia Gala

by | 6.30.2015 at 2:23pm
The Vetlessen Prize 6-24-15

Stephen Sparks, one of the world’s foremost experts on volcanoes, received the Vetlesen Prize for his groundbreaking scientific work at a ceremony held June 24 at Columbia University. Two-hundred-fifty people attended the formal gathering in the Low Library Rotunda.

Antarctica’s Retreating Ice

by | 6.30.2015 at 11:16am
A Glacier on the Antarctic Peninsula. Photo: Margie Turrin.

While the ice sheets on West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula are usually the ones to make the news in relation to climate change, recent studies have documented transformations that are taking place on the East Antarctic Ice Sheet as well. On the continent as a whole, large areas of ice have already melted and this trend shows no sign of slowing, meaning the implications for global sea level rise in this century could be more dramatic than earlier projections anticipated.

The Otherworldly and Elusive Life Beneath Antarctica’s Ice

by | 6.29.2015 at 10:30am
Antarctica from below. A Nature Review article highlights novel biodiversity found below the surface of the ice. Photo: NASA

While renowned for the penguins, Antarctica is perhaps equally well known for what it doesn’t have: basically, anything else. But scientist Steven Chown says the view that the icy continent lacks life is “simply not true.”

Glacial Earthquakes May Help Forecast Sea-Level Rise

by | 6.25.2015 at 2:21pm
glacier-hss

Glacial earthquakes are produced as massive ice chunks fall off the fronts of advancing glaciers into the ocean. A new study of the quakes’ mechanics may give scientists a way to measure ice loss remotely and refine predictions of sea-level rise.

Subsurface Discovery Sprouts a New Branch on the Tree of Life

by | 6.22.2015 at 9:27am
This schematic of the tree of life details the novel phylogenetic placement of newly discovered bacterial groups.

Last week a study published in Nature pulled the veil on a branch of the bacterial tree of life that has evaded detection for nearly a century and a half. The study used cutting edge genome sequencing and savvy bioinformatics techniques to make this remarkable discovery.

From the Nile to the Sundarbans: the Undergraduate Capstones

by | 6.8.2015 at 3:46pm
Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 3.45.47 PM

This spring, students in the Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development presented innovative solutions to sustainability issues as part of their Capstone Workshop. Their clients ranged from the United States Military Academy at West Point to the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law.

Hurricane Histories and Carbon Mysteries

by | 6.5.2015 at 10:58am
Bahamas, hurricanes

The Bahamas might be a vacation destination for most people. But for us, they represent an excellent site to study several different questions about past, present and future climates.

Behind the Expected Quiet 2015 Hurricane Season

by | 6.2.2015 at 6:16pm
hurricanes, hurricane prediction

On May 27, 2015, NOAA officially announced a likely below-normal Atlantic Hurricane season is coming up. The range for the possible numbers of major hurricanes is 0-2. What are the reasons behind it? How precise are these numbers?

Tapping into Earth’s Secret History

by | 6.2.2015 at 11:33am
The state of the Equatorial Pacific has influenced global climate throughout Earth history. Interpretation of past trends can lend insight into the future of our planet. 
Source: NASA Earth Observatory

In a study published last week, Lamont post-doctoral scholar Heather Ford and coauthors used 4 million-year-old fossils from the Pliocene to reconstruct the physical features of the Pacific Ocean that would have shaped the environment during a critical juncture in Earth history.

H. James Simpson; Tracked Pollutants in the Hudson and Far Beyond

by | 5.26.2015 at 2:32pm
Simpson-H-James crop

H. James Simpson, a geochemist who pioneered important studies of water pollutants in the Hudson River and abroad, died May 10. He had been affiliated with Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory for 50 years. The cause was Parkinson’s disease, said his family; he was 72.