AGU 2010

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At AGU, Earth Institute’s Columbia Water Center Adds to the Abundance of Scientific Riches

The annual American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting is an all-you-can-eat buffet of the most current scientific knowledge available on the planet. Name your pleasure: space, climate change, geomagnetism, nonlinear geophysics, volcanology, biogeosciences, etc. You have to be careful to indulge in moderation over the five-day event, or risk unseemly bloating.

The Columbia Water Center contributed its own tasty dishes to the feast, mostly under the hydrology section of the menu.

by |December 22, 2010
Ice currently piles up most heavily in a narrow band (red, yellow) along the northern edge of the Canadian Archipelago and northern Greenland, and is expected to persist into the future as other areas (blue, green) disappear in summer. (Fowler/Maslanik, 2010)

The Last Arctic Sea Ice Refuge

If climate change proceeds apace, summer sea ice in the Arctic is projected to nearly disappear by the end of this century. But a group of researchers predicts that ice will continue to collect in one small area, perhaps providing a last-ditch stand for ringed seals, polar bears and other creatures that cannot live without… read more

by |December 17, 2010
Gulf of Mexico/Caribbean number of extreme climate hotspots, by administrative unit. Blues are low number; greens moderate; yellow to red show progressively more. (Courtesy CIESIN)

The Caribbean’s Growing Disaster Hotspots

The 125 million people of the Caribbean/Gulf of Mexico region are highly exposed to hurricanes, floods and landslides–and it is not only because of bad weather. Increasing numbers of the poor are crowding into confined areas that are most prone to destruction–low-lying flood plains, too-steep hillsides, and the like. Robert Chen, director of the Center for International Earth… read more

by |December 16, 2010
The oldest living tree that Neil Pederson sampled as part of his drought reconstruction stands to his left.

Is New York City Ready for Drought?

All day long a flood of thousands scientists and students ebbs and flows across San Francisco’s 4th Street and Howard Avenue, coursing between the cavernous Moscone West and Moscone South convention buildings. The AGU is like a supercomputer of earth science, with human currents of data swapping information, heading from one talk to another, processing… read more

by |December 15, 2010
Experimental petrologist David Walker has been a leader in understanding the evolution of the moon and Earth.

Honoring a Pioneer in Planetary Evolution

David Walker, a professor of geochemistry at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, will be honored tonight by colleagues at the American Geophysical Union for decades of groundbreaking work to understand the early formation of the moon and Earth. Walker will receive the AGU’s Harry H. Hess Medal, awarded for “outstanding achievements in research of the constitution and evolution of Earth and… read more

by |December 15, 2010
Satellite imagery shows dropping groundwater tables across much of northern India. (GRACE/Tiwari et al., 2009)

India’s Water Is Running Out

India is running “the largest water-mining project in the world”–and it cannot be sustained much longer, Columbia Water Center researcher Shama Perveen told an audience on Monday. That is mainly because farmers, who depend heavily on irrigation water drawn from underground aquifers, are using far more water than rainfall can replenish. Perveen’s talk, “Quantifying the… read more

by |December 14, 2010

The Right Tools to Talk Climate

At AGU, you need the right tools to understand what’s going on, and to get where you need to go. Columbia researchers have been looking for the right tools to navigate another complicated place: The gap between what climate science tells us, and how a lot of the public hears that information.

by |December 14, 2010
Warm waters carried by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current are brushing the ice front in the western part of the continent, in the area of the Bellingshausen Sea.

Deep Ocean Heat Is Melting Antarctic Ice

Like dirt swept under the carpet, it appears that much of the human-made heat produced over the last century has been getting soaked up by the world’s oceans, and sinking into deep waters.

by |December 14, 2010

18,000 Scientists–In One Place

This week marks the world’s largest annual gathering of earth and space scientists: the five-day December meeting of the American Geophysical Union. There will be about 18,000 of them, spread across two giant San Francisco convention halls giving talks and discussing the latest in their fields. Scores of researchers from the Earth Institute will be… read more

by |December 13, 2010