Features Archive - State of the Planet

Helicopter in Greenland

The Future of Snow on Ice

What if the warming Arctic climate were to result in more snow? Could decreasing sea ice cover actually drive more evaporation of newly exposed Arctic ocean water into the atmosphere? And could that increased moisture in the air fall on the ice sheet as snow? If yes, will this stabilize the Greenland Ice Sheet, stopping… read more

Understanding Ecosystems off the Hawaiian Islands

Biological Oceanographer, Sonya Dyhrman’s team is embarking on a research cruise off Hawaii as part of the Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology (SCOPE) on the R/V Kilo Moana June 25-July 15. Gwenn Hennon, and Matthew Harke will be at sea for nearly three weeks with logistical support from Sheean Haley back on shore…. read more

The Paris Climate Agreement

Learn more about the 2015 Paris climate agreement, the science behind climate change, and what the Trump administration’s decision to pull out of the agreement means for the future.

Cruising to an OASIS

Bridgit Boulahanis, a graduate student at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, joined a team of 18 scientists from across the United States on an expedition to the eastern Pacific Ocean. Their mission: to investigate a chain of submarine volcanoes, or seamounts, along the East Pacific Rise. The OASIS (Off Axis Seamounts Investigation at Siqueros) team will be… read more

Break in Ice Shelf

Tracking Antarctica’s Ice Shelves

Lamont’s polar scientists are back in Antarctica on missions to study the continent’s ice. Ice shelves like the Ross Ice Shelf reach out over the ocean from the massive ice sheet covering the continent, and researchers are exploring how changes in climate will affect them. Flying over the ice and using remote sensing equipment, they… read more

The AUV Sentry discovered an area of seafloor where methane is bubbling up, similar to the earlier photo. The data will be used to plan the team's next dive with scientists inside a submersible. Photo: NOAA

The Future of Deep Science

Bridgit Boulahanis, a marine geophysics graduate student at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, joins a team of early career scientists on their way to becoming chief scientists in a training cruise focused on seafloor exploration. They’ll be getting their first experiences working with submersibles as they dive into projects ranging from cephalopod collection to acoustic… read more

Environmental Sustainability in the Middle East

Students from Columbia University and Tel Aviv University travel to Jordan and Israel to learn about how the two countries are cooperating on environmental issues and managing shared natural resources. The trip is part of a course on regional environmental sustainability in the Middle East, a collaboration between Columbia University’s Earth Institute and School of… read more

When Oceans Leak

Location: Off Southern Africa Team: Sidney Hemming and Allison Franzese Purpose: Ocean currents and climate Start Date: Jan. 30 – March 30, 2016 The Indian Ocean’s warm, salty water has been leaking into the Atlantic, spinning off giant eddies with the help of the twisting Agulhas Current. Studies suggest that in the past, this warm-water… read more

Sampling the Barren Sea

Location: South Pacific Ocean Team: Frankie Pavia and Sebastian Vivancos Purpose: ocean chemistry and biology Date: Dec. 17, 2015 – Jan. 28, 2016 The barrenness of life and other particulate material in the clear waters of the central South Pacific allows light to penetrate more deeply than anywhere else. Columbia graduate students Frankie Pavia and… read more

Decoding the Mysteries of the Ross Ice Shelf

Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf covers an area the size of France and measures a few hundred meters thick above the water. It plays a critical role in stabilizing the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, and scientists are concerned about its future in a warming world. In the field, a team of scientists from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory,… read more