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

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

The 2015 Paris Climate Summit

The nations of the world meet in Paris starting Nov. 30 to discuss how to confront climate change. The goal: Keep global temperature from rising 2 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial average. Many scientists feel that is already impossible. But the United States, China and many other nations have committed to trying. The Earth Institute… read more

TRACES of Change in the Arctic

The U.S. GEOTRACES program launches into the Arctic Ocean as part of a multi-nation, multiple ice-breaker effort to study marine trace elements. Trace elements play two opposing roles in the ocean, as both essential nutrients (iron, zinc, cobalt) and as toxins (arsenic, copper) affecting biologic productivity and carbon cycling. Studying these elements in the Arctic… read more

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