1862 Flooding in California

With El Niño, Be Careful What You Wish for

In Southern California, a strong El Niño usually signals rain. Given that California is now in the throes of a severe drought, it seems like that should be a good thing, even if it comes with risk of floods. But the reality of climate is more complex and counter-intuitive than it first appears.

by |November 16, 2015

Making Agriculture Sustainable in One of India’s Poorest States

Jharkhand, India is one of the nation’s poorest and most most food-insecure states, with over 45 percent of the population living below the poverty line. Can a research team devise sustainable ways to improve livelihoods, productivity and sustainable water use?

by |September 9, 2015

Learning from a River’s History to Prepare for the Future

Researchers from eight universities, including Columbia University, are using tree ring and glacier analysis to reconstruct the climate history of the Missouri River Basin in order to give policymakers and water managers better decision-making tools to manage the river.

by |August 17, 2015

The Growing Groundwater Crisis

Groundwater is being depleted at alarming rates, not only in drought-stricken California, but around the world. When groundwater is depleted, it can take tens to hundreds of years to for it to reestablish its sustainable level, if at all. What can be done to avert a water crisis?

This schematic of the tree of life details the novel phylogenetic placement of newly discovered bacterial groups.

Subsurface Discovery Sprouts a New Branch on the Tree of Life

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.

by |June 22, 2015

Viewing Melting Glaciers, Via Microscope and Moving Images

Two women investigating climate change from different perspectives—Christine McCarthy, a geophysicist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and Denise Iris, a multimedia artist from Brooklyn—had a chance to spend several days together recently. In the Rock Mechanics Lab at Lamont, where McCarthy works, and a nearby “cold room” chilled to the climate of an industrial freezer, they exchanged notes on two ways of looking at ice.

by |June 11, 2015
Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 3.45.47 PM

From the Nile to the Sundarbans: the Undergraduate Capstones

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.

by |June 8, 2015
The Normalized Deficit Cumulated (NDC) shows cumulative, multi-year water deficits.

U.S. Drought Risk Wider than Previously Thought

New research from the Columbia Water Center suggests that many more places in the United States are at risk of drought-induced water stress than is commonly thought, including dense metropolitan regions such as New York City and Washington, D.C.

by |May 4, 2015
Overhanging rooks and slumps reveal the much larger amount of erosion and land loss in the Indian Sundarban

Indian Sundarban

We arrived in Kolkata, and filmed by the Hooghly River. While it is no longer the main channel of the Ganges, it is still the Holy Ganges and we saw a funeral procession spreading ashes of a loved one while filming there. Then a 5 hour trip by car, ferry, rickshaw and boat to the Indian Sundarbans. The mangrove forest here is undergoing more erosion and land loss than in Bangladesh, where more river sediments can replenish it. The water here is more saline and the trees are small. A tiger was spotted by another boat, but was gone when we got there.

by |March 30, 2015
A small boat sailing up a scenic river in Mizoram.

Geology and Filming in Mizoram

In the small town of Kolasib, we stayed in Hotel Cloud 9. I had been told since I was a child that I was always off on Cloud 9 and now I was actually here. However, the electricity wasn’t for the first few hours, so showers were cold, but the dinner was hot.

by |March 27, 2015