Ecology

Aboard a vessel run by the environmental group Riverkeeper, oceanographer Joaquim Goes of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (left) and PhD. student Ye Li filter water from New York harbor. They were on a mission to study the prevalence of plastic microbeads.  (Photos: Kevin Krajick, unless otherwise credited.)

New York’s Waterways Are Swimming in Plastic Microbeads

Plastic microbeads, common in soap, toothpaste and other consumer products, are flooding waters. A team from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory is doing the first large-scale assessment of their impact on New York’s waterways.

by |August 16, 2017
Despite a strict ban on ivory trafficking in NY, these pieces were found for sale in 2016.

Fighting Ivory Trafficking with Forensic Science

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.

by |August 11, 2017
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Photo Essay: When People Must Make Way for Nature

The forested Kanha Tiger Reserve, in the highlands of central India, is home to an abundance of rare wildlife. It also used to be home to thousands of people—that is, until they were moved out by the government to make way for endangered creatures.

by |July 17, 2017
Gwenn Hennon demonstrates experiment aboard the RV Kilo Moana

Eavesdropping on the Ocean’s Mighty Microorganisms

Now, nearing the end of our three-week cruise of the North Pacific off Hawaii, we are working to understand how these tiny bacteria connect and communicate with one another.

by |July 13, 2017
Loading the R/V Kilo Moana

Setting Off to Explore the Depths

Yesterday, we set sail at 8am, rounded the Island of O’ahu, and headed north into the blue waters of the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre.

by |June 29, 2017
Polissar snip

Pratigya Polissar Sees Landscapes Changing Through a Microscope

The word fossils typically conjures images of T-Rexes and trilobites. Pratigya Polissar thinks micro: A paleoclimatologist, he digs into old sediments and studies molecular fossils—the microscopic remains of plants and animals that can tell us a lot about what was living in a particular time period.

by |April 17, 2017
The Potomac River in West Virginia in autumn

Can State Environmental Agencies Fill in for a Failing EPA?

There are places where EPA will fail the American people. But while state and local governments cannot perform all the functions that a national environmental agency can, visible local environmental and health impacts will lead mayors and governors to act.

by |April 10, 2017
Elephant ivory confiscated in the bust.

Student Writing Project Exposes NYC’s Illegal Ivory Trade

For a term project, Wendy Hapgood, MSSM ’16, investigated the possible illegal sale of ivory at shops in Manhattan. She found evidence for the largest ivory bust in New York state history.

by |March 29, 2017
Oglala National Grassland, Nebraska. Photo: Brian Kell

Grasslands More Sensitive to Dryness than Rainfall, Study Says

A new study shows that dryness of the atmosphere affects U.S. grassland productivity more than rainfall does. The findings could have important implications for predicting how plants will respond to warming climate conditions.

by |March 9, 2017
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Upcoming Scientific Fieldwork: 2017 and Beyond

On every continent and ocean, Earth Institute field researchers are studying the dynamics of climate, geology, natural hazards, ecology and other subjects with direct applications to the challenges facing humanity.

by |March 6, 2017