Features Archive - Page 3 of 7 - State of the Planet

Wide Ocean, Tiny Creatures

Scientists from a number of research institutions are participating in an expedition aboard the R/V L’Atalante to study how microorganisms in the South Pacific Ocean influence the carbon cycle. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory graduate student Kyle Frischkorn is among them; his goal is to assess how the microorganism Trichodesmium and other microbes interact, and the resulting… read more

Greenland Thaw

Measuring Change

Location: Upernavik islands, Greenland Team: Dave Porter and Margie Turrin Purpose: Glacier and Climate Research Start Date: June 2014 Greenland’s ice sheets are shrinking faster than ever, responsible for about a quarter of sea-level rise globally. Alison Glacier on Greenland’s northwestern coast is one place where ice flow to the sea has sped up. From… read more

Sculpting Tropical Peaks

Location: Chirripó National Park, Costa Rica Team: Maxwell Cunningham and Mike Kaplan Purpose: rock sampling Dates: June 5-June 25, 2014 Many tropical mountains have the same shape—steep, rugged slopes capped by wide, flat summits. Were these landscapes shaped by tectonic forces from below? Or by intense glacial erosion from above? Graduate student Maxwell Cunningham and… read more

Opening the South China Sea

Location: Hong Kong, Taiwan Team: Trevor J. Williams Purpose: Marine Tectonics Dated: Jan. 27-March 30, 2014 The South China Sea is one of the most geopolitically contested marine realms on earth. But it is also of keen interest to geologists who want to understand how this ocean basin, bordered by China, the Philippines, Malaysia and… read more


Kat Allen, a researcher at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, started writing poems about science as a graduate student, in part to make studying for qualifying exams less painfully serious. At Lamont, she sent out a poem with each week’s reminder about the geochemistry department’s coffee social hour. Her “Geopoetry” blog grew from there because, she says,… read more

Arctic Sea Ice Ecology

Location: Barrow, Alaska Team: Andy Juhl, Craig Aumack, Lamont-Doherty Earth ObservatoryPurpose: Climate and Sea LifeStart Date: May 2013 Polar ice is home to large communities of algae that thrive in the frigid Arctic environment. These tiny organisms have a big impact on the marine ecosystem and the entire planet — including us. Andy Juhl and… read more

Peering Through Polar Ice

Scientists at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory have designed a set of ice imaging instruments small enough to hitch a ride on planes flying over both poles on routine missions. In 2013 the IcePod began collecting data over Greenland from the wing of a New York Air National Guard LC130 plane. That winter, flights begin over Antarctica…. read more

Hurricane Sandy

What was behind perhaps the worst natural disaster to hit the Northeast seaboard in recent history? How likely is it that we’ll see more superstorms in the future? How could we have been better prepared? The science and the lessons of Hurricane Sandy, through the eyes of researchers at the Earth Institute.

Vanishing Tropical Glaciers

Ecuador’s glaciers are receding fast as temperatures warm. Less ice means less water for farming and producing electricity. To track the changes in Ecuador’s high Andes, Jonathan Cain, a recent graduate of Columbia University’s Masters in Sustainability Management with his Ecuadorian colleague, Pablo Puruncajas, will install weather monitoring equipment on Chimborazo, Ecuador’s tallest peak.

The Fourth Extinction

The Rise of Dinosaurs—and the Age of Humans

Researchers at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are investigating why life on earth was nearly extinguished 200 million years ago—and whether that event holds relevance for today.