Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory has been a leader in the study of planet Earth since its founding more than 65 years ago. Today, Observatory scientists continue a long tradition of expanding the frontiers of knowledge in the Earth and planetary sciences. The goal of this document is to outline a strategic plan that will guide Lamont over the next five to ten years in its two-fold quest to (a) remain at the forefront of research in basic Earth and ocean sciences and (b) become a leading intellectual center in the integration of Earth and environmental sciences into a framework for understanding that supports and promotes sustainability in a rapidly changing world.
Lamont scientists are committed to supporting the major core strengths that provide the foundation on which all of the Observatory’s interdisciplinary work builds. These areas of core strength are Climate Science, Geodynamics of the Solid Earth and Life on our Evolving Planet. In addition, three cross-cutting themes resonate through the institution and span the traditional disciplinary boundaries of climate, oceanography, solid Earth, and biology. These themes are the Carbon Cycle; Resources: Water, Energy, and Food; and Geohazards.
Finally, five initiatives have been identified that should form the focus for new research in the coming decade. These interdisciplinary initiatives represent new directions for the Observatory that are each of particular scientific promise and high societal impact. They are (1) the recently established initiative for Climate and Life; (2) the recently launched initiative for the study of Extreme Weather and Climate; (3) an initiative on Changing Ice and Changing Coastlines that focuses on ice sheet and sea-level response to a warming planet; (4) an initiative for the study of Earthquakes and Faulting; and (5) an initiative for understanding the dynamic Earth in Real Time.
This document presents Lamont’s strategy for advancing our understanding of planet Earth and planning for future investment in staffing and institutional infrastructure. Strategic development should include (1) hiring in the disciplines essential to maintaining our core strengths, including oceanography, geochemistry, geophysics, biology, and geology, among others; (2) targeted hires to advance progress on the cross-cutting themes, especially the carbon cycle and resources; and (3) cluster hires to enable rapid progress in the multi-disciplinary initiatives.
Infrastructure needed to achieve this intellectual vision will necessitate expanded investment in infrastructure and personnel for computation and data management, as well as investment in personnel and space that will foster Lamont’s role as a collaborative center internally and within the Earth Institute, Columbia University, and the global Earth science community.
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory: Continued Leadership in Discovery and Innovation
Since its founding in 1949, Lamont has been a leader in the Earth sciences. Observatory scientists were the first to map the seafloor and to develop a computer model that could predict El Niño weather events. Lamont scientists confirmed the theory of plate tectonics, verified nuclear test ban treaties, recognized the causal links between tectonics and climate change, and recognized the ocean’s critical role in triggering abrupt climate change. Research at Lamont is broad in its sweep and continues to push the frontiers of Earth science outward, both within classical disciplines and across multi-disciplinary boundaries.
The goal of this strategic planning document is to outline a plan that will guide Lamont over the next 5–10 years in its quest to remain at the forefront of research in basic Earth sciences while becoming a leading intellectual center for the integration of Earth and environmental sciences into a framework that can support and promote sustainability in a rapidly changing world. Indeed, among the greatest challenges of the 21st century are achieving an understanding of the complexities in the Earth system and using such knowledge to devise approaches to sustainable economic and social development that ensure quality of life and maximize the well being of current and future generations.
The Earth system is dynamic and involves interactions within and among the solid Earth, ocean, cryosphere, and atmosphere. These dynamic processes influence and are influenced by all forms of life. Moreover, humans are now altering the basic functioning of Earth systems to such a degree that we must address the problem of sustaining a habitable planet. In the next decade, Lamont will continue to pursue fundamental research on the most scientifically important and globally pressing questions concerning Earth processes. Observatory scientists strive to understand key components of the Earth system from the upper layers of the atmosphere, through the biological realm, to the structure of the inner core. They will continue building on the Observatory’s traditional strengths in observations, experimental investigation, and modeling of Earth processes. This research into the operation of the dynamic Earth provides the essential foundation for science-based solutions to global sustainability being developed at Lamont and elsewhere.
Non-traditional collaborations will be required to foster understanding of coupled systems. For instance, collaborations among glaciologists, atmospheric scientists, geodesists, and oceanographers will be needed to understand the changing cryosphere and future sea-level trends. At the same time, we must continue the Lamont tradition of making the innovative measurements and observations of Earth’s natural systems. Combining observations with experiments and numerical models will continue to enable Lamont scientists to advance the fundamental understanding of the coupling across those systems that will lead to improved predictions of the impacts of Earth system change.
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory is uniquely positioned to continue as a world leader in advancing the Earth science knowledge necessary to understand how our planet works. Our goal is to hire the most outstanding and innovative researchers and foster their success. As a core component of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, Lamont is able to bring together the experts and tools needed to address some of the world’s most challenging societal problems, from climate change and environmental degradation, to poverty, disease, and the sustainable use of resources. Below we outline a strategic vision of the most challenging research problems facing geoscientists today, in climate and Earth system science, in solid Earth studies, and in the workings of the biosphere. We also specifically focus on five societally important initiatives at the forefront of emerging interdisciplinary research.
All research at Lamont builds on our foundation in innovative observational science and three core strengths: past, present, and future climate; geodynamics of the Solid Earth; and life on our evolving planet. The foundation and core strengths are critical to the education and training of graduate students and to the development of new and innovative research programs. Maintaining excellence in these areas will require thoughtful hiring at both the junior and senior scientist levels. These three core strengths cut across the present divisional structures within Lamont and were identified from a synthesis of input from the Lamont community during the strategic planning process that led to this report.
2.1. Climate: Past, Present, and Future
Climate science at Lamont is unique in its complementary study of past, present, and future climates through the use of observations, proxy records, and numerical models. Our integrative approach has led to a deeper understanding and improved prediction of the Earth’s climate system. Lamont scientists pioneered advances in the understanding, simulation, and prediction of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), tropical atmosphere-ocean dynamics, tropical cyclones, modes of climate variability (such as the North Atlantic Oscillation), sea ice dynamics, inter-ocean exchanges, global ocean overturning, ocean-ice interactions, land surface-atmosphere coupling, floods and droughts, glacial cycles, Phanerozoic climate evolution, and much more.
Lamont continues to build on this record of achievement as its scientists focus on understanding how the climate system will respond to increasingly complex anthropogenic perturbations. Questions critical for the future include how the frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones, as well as other extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, and heat waves will change in response to human and natural perturbations to the climate system. How will these climate system changes, in turn, impact Earth’s terrestrial and marine ecosystems? How will the climate system respond to rapid changes in the atmospheric abundance of climate forcing agents (such as greenhouse gases and aerosols)? Can we develop an improved understanding of synergies and tradeoffs in mitigation strategies proposed for managing anthropogenic changes in atmospheric gases and aerosols?
The last two decades have seen a conceptual shift in our perception of the cryosphere, awayfrom one of a sedate environment. Paleoclimate records have revealed that abrupt shifts in climate are accompanied by abrupt changes in the cryosphere: armadas of icebergs filled the North Atlantic Ocean and left their distinctive signal preserved in emblematic cores from Lamont’s Core Repository. Ocean measurements and satellite imaging have demonstrated that parts of the ice sheet once considered stable are capable of accelerating, thinning, and losing mass on timescales of weeks. Scientists at Lamont have captured the seismic signal of these changes while monitoring the increase in iceberg calving along the margins of Greenland. By imaging the interiors of the thick Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, Lamont scientists have found that water can influence the fundamental structure and strength of the ice as it flows toward the oceans, and the rapid synchronous retreat of mountain glaciers in Patagonia and New Zealand has also been resolved with precise surface age dating. These advances, and many other groundbreaking studies of the links between climate change and ice sheet stability, have all been led by Lamont scientists.
Today, rapidly melting mountain glaciers are triggering floods and avalanches and altering water supplies worldwide. Similarly, sea level is rising at ever-faster rates. The challenge in the coming century is to predict the magnitude and rate at which sea level will rise around the world. To improve these predictions, scientists must understand past sea level changes, expand our understanding of fundamental processes in ice, ocean, and crustal dynamics, and continue to monitor the changing aspects of the remaining glaciers and ice sheets. Unique and innovative instrumentation developed at Lamont has enabled researchers to image the subglacial processes that modulate ice flow. Moving forward, we will build upon these and other successes and continue to push for a greater understanding of our planet’s changing climate.
In the face of these and other challenging issues, continued growth at Lamont will require the integration of observations, new technology, advanced proxies, and improved models. By studying the past behavior of weather and climate-related processes such as ENSO and ocean overturning, including during intervals of Earth history with a warmer atmosphere and elevated carbon dioxide, we will be better able to understand how climate might change in the future. Examining proxy records of ocean, vegetation, and atmosphere dynamics across past climate changes, including both orbital and event-driven forcing, will reveal characteristics of the climate system that have not been experienced or recorded in historical times.
Moving forward, it will imperative for Lamont to broaden its research program in order to fully encompass observations of the current Modeling and understanding complex Earth system components such as sea ice, ice sheets, clouds, and ecosystems, and understanding their coupling with other components of the Earth system, pose ongoing challenges. Improved coupling of small and large-scale processes in models will inevitably lead to better prediction of local and regional-scale changes in weather and climate on seasonal, inter-annual, and longer timescales. Imaging the changing planet from satellites, aircraft, and autonomous airborne and submersible vehicles is becoming increasingly central to such observations. Improved understanding of proxy records will require integration of observations, models, and paleoclimate records, e.g., through the incorporation of physically based models of proxies such as isotopes into global climate models.
2.2. Geodynamic Processes in the Solid Earth
Lamont’s studies of the solid Earth are rooted in exceptional observational and modeling programs that span the full history of the planet, from the formation of the solar system to deformation in real time. Observations come from field and laboratory programs and range from the global scope of satellite imagery to the intra-crystalline processes illuminated by micro-analytical techniques. Researchers gather data from field sites on every continent, from research ships traversing the oceans, and from observatories on the ocean floor. A rich diversity of modeling strategies complements these observational programs, effectively integrating the full range of geological, geophysical, and geochemical disciplines. Studies of the solid Earth at Lamont have advanced our understanding of plate tectonics and Earth’s surface evolution. In the last decade, improvements in data resolution have triggered a revolution in our understanding of the spatial and temporal variability of deformation, magma generation, and fluid flow within the Earth. The ability to address problems at increasingly fine spatial scales and human timescales has led to new questions about the internal dynamics of our planet and how they influence processes at the Earth’s surface.
Here we highlight two high-priority themes in geodynamics for targeted research at Lamont in the next five to ten years: one focusing on the flux of heat and volatiles into and out of the solid Earth, and a second focused on the interaction between deep Earth dynamics and surface processes.
Flux of Heat and Volatiles into and out of the Solid Earth
Earth’s crust and mantle are huge reservoirs for major life-sustaining atmospheric constituents, including carbon and water. The presence of these constituents controls the genesis of unique biological communities on the seafloor and in the subsurface and has modulated the evolution of Earth’s climate and life in the past. These volatile and fluid constituents are moved both into and out of the deep Earth by faulting, volcanism, and subduction, which are themselves affected by volatile fluxes. In crustal and mantle rocks, fluids and associated chemical reactions fundamentally control solid Earth dynamics, including inducing melting throughout the mantle, weakening faults, and dissolving and transporting material in subsurface fluid systems. Recent studies have revealed feedbacks between deformation and fluids, including volatiles and magmas, at a range of temporal and spatial scales and depths within the Earth. This work has led to the identification of previously unknown fault behavior, providing new insights into the large-scale formation and evolution of continental and oceanic lithosphere.
The rates and primary mechanisms controlling these volatile cycles over Earth’s history will be central to solid Earth research in the coming decade. Immediate questions to be addressed by research include: What are the fluxes of fluids at the seabed? What modulates these fluxes in time and space? And how do these fluxes influence biological communities? What controls the generation of magmas, and how do they modify the mantle and build new crust? What is the relationship between fluids and viscous deformation in the solid Earth, as well as brittle deformation and seismic behavior of faults at shallower levels? Does the distribution of fluids control plate stability and continental evolution? What are the time scales for mass transfer between and within mantle and crust? What is the bulk composition and compositional layering of the Earth, and what do they imply for Earth’s evolution? How does Earth’s formation and evolution, especially of its volatiles and heat, compare with those of other planets?
Interaction between Deep Earth Dynamics and Surface Processes
Dynamic processes associated with heat transport and convection in the crust and mantle influence surficial processes over a vast range of spatial and temporal scales. Hydrothermal circulation, volcanism, faulting and earthquakes, tsunamis, mountain building, landslides, continental rifting, basin formation, uplift and erosion, as well as perturbations to the overall shape of the Earth are all linked to geodynamic processes. These surface modifications directly influence the biosphere and the human living environment, including deep-ocean biota, volcanic and seismic hazards, sea-level change, and tectonic-induced climate perturbations affecting plant, animal, and human evolution. Better quantification of the processes shaping Earth’s interior and driving surface deformation and evolution will be central to solid Earth research in the next decade.
Immediate research questions include: How does tectonic and geodynamic deformation influence climate and sea-level change? How do erosion, deposition and landscape evolution respond to and influence climate change, sea level, and tectonic deformation? What are the driving forces behind continental breakup, and how do new plate boundaries form? What controls the spectrum of fault slip, from slow-slip events to mega-thrust earthquakes, and what is the impact on surface movements and tsunamis? What controls the spatial and temporal distribution of volcanic eruptions? How do the generation and emplacement of magmas modify and stabilize the lithosphere, and how are these phenomena related to deep-Earth dynamics? What crust and mantle processes control the distribution and evolution of deep-ocean and subsurface biota?
These overarching research questions emphasize the need to better understand the important feedbacks between geodynamic processes and the biosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. Fundamental processes in the solid Earth also have major implications for a wide spectrum of geohazards, including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, and landslides. To tackle these science questions , it will be essential that Lamont maintain and build upon its strengths in geological and geophysical field observations, geophysical imaging and monitoring, satellite remote sensing, geochemical analysis, numerical modeling, and experimental studies. Short-term priorities include investment in space- and underwater-geodetic techniques, in particular with an emphasis on plate-boundary deformation; real-time seafloor monitoring, taking advantage of ocean observatory systems; building on existing strengths in high-resolution seismic imaging to utilize, support and maintain leadership of the Observatory’s unique three-dimensional seismic facility, the R/V Marcus G. Langseth; building on recent investments in experimental rock mechanics; re-invigorating geological field studies with an emphasis on seismo-tectonics and active deformation; building on our recent investments in instrumentation and the ultra clean laboratory in geochemistry, with an emphasis on the opportunities provided by the ultra-low blank environment of this facility; and expanding our capabilities in computational geodynamic modeling. Long-term priorities include maintaining Lamont’s exceptional global leadership in earthquake and marine seismology, petrology and volcanology, and high-temperature geochemistry.
2.3. Life on our Evolving Planet
Life makes our planet unique, and the activities of living organisms have fundamentally altered the composition of the Earth's atmosphere, oceans, and crust. Understanding life on our dynamic planet, from the molecular to the societal level, is a central challenge intersecting all components of Earth science. Lamont must maintain basic research on the role of life on our evolving planet as a foundational strength. Basic research on how organisms and their activities have altered the Earth in the past, and their current roles within the modern Earth system, is also essential to finding solutions to many of society’s current problems. We need to understand and predict how the living components of the Earth system will respond to emerging anthropogenic stresses, such as rising greenhouse gases, rapid climate change, sea level rise, changes in elemental cycles, over-harvesting, invasive species, water shortages, and toxic contaminants.
Lamont excels at research that reconstructs past environments using biological remains, such as fossils, tree rings, and chemical biomarkers. Lamont also has long-standing strength in the study of modern terrestrial and marine organisms, especially the study of plants and phytoplankton, the primary producers at the base of the food web. Moving forward it is clear that novel insights into modern and past biological systems can be gained by taking advantage of new tools such as genomics and proteomics, areas where we are gaining expertise but have substantial room for growth. By synthesizing observational and experimental data and incorporating living processes into Earth-system models Lamont scientists will be able to move research in exciting new directions.
Our focus in the coming decade should be a holistic understanding of the role of life on Earth in the past, present, and future. Following our research and educational mission, we will maintain our expertise in terrestrial and marine ecosystems and study organisms from the sub-cellular to population levels, in the past as well as in modern environments. Our understanding of the ecology of ocean and terrestrial environments must include natural, urban, and agricultural systems. Fully integrating the foundational importance of life on our evolving planet into the Lamont mission will require bridging the boundaries among physical, geochemical, and biological disciplines.
In addition to maintaining a strong core of basic research in the biogeosciences, Lamont must focus on solution-oriented research that promotes global sustainability. We must understand how anthropogenic stressors affect ecosystems, from individual organisms to communities, and the way those impacts feed back to other Earth system processes. Lamont researchers can make a significant impact in the areas of prediction, prevention, and mitigation of environmental stressors by furthering our understanding of contaminated land, air, and water by chemicals, pathogens, biotoxins, and invasive species; habitat loss, including shifting ecosystem zonation due to changes in surface temperature and shifting precipitation; changes in organism physiology related to changes in temperature, carbon dioxide, and the availability of other life-giving elements; and changes in the frequency and severity of extreme events such as fire, drought, floods, and hypoxia.
Effective solutions require a robust understanding of the ecosystem services that are provided throughout our globe. To meet these challenges we need to study how ecosystem structure and function have changed in response to climate and environmental perturbations in the past, from the origin of life billions of years ago, to the Cenozoic greenhouse and icehouse worlds, to the present. Our ability to address these challenges requires core strength in research and education related to life on our evolving planet, complemented by expertise associated with the cross-cutting themes and initiatives described below.
Three cross-cutting themes emerged from discussions within the strategic planning committee, a review of divisional planning documents, and campus town hall meetings. One of these interdisciplinary themes, Geohazards, directly feeds into one of our emerging initiatives, Earthquakes and Faulting, whereas the other two, the Carbon Cycle and Resources, reflect topics for which partnerships with other units in the Earth Institute can greatly enhance our in-house expertise. One theme in particular, the Carbon Cycle, is a traditional strength of Lamont that will be impacted by upcoming retirements and thus should be a target for future hires. It is also possible that some facets of these themes may evolve to form the core of future initiatives.
3.1. The Carbon Cycle
Understanding the sources and sinks of carbon in the Earth system and applying that knowledge to the management of the anthropogenic flux of carbon into the atmosphere that threatens Earth’s habitability is a grand challenge. Quantifying the principal components of the carbon cycle in space and time, understanding the feedbacks that exist within the natural carbon cycle, and predicting the impacts on future climate change of different carbon emission scenarios is crucial to making informed policy decisions about greenhouse gases. Anthropogenic CO2 emissions will continue into the future, so an understanding of how to manage this rapidly rising reservoir of carbon in the atmosphere is needed.
Ocean processes have played a dominant role in regulating the CO2 content of the atmosphere throughout recent geologic history (e.g., the past million years). The ocean currently absorbs a substantial (~25%) but declining fraction of the CO2 released to the atmosphere by humans. Will the amount of CO2 absorbed by the ocean continue to decline, as projected on the basis of well-known features of inorganic carbon chemistry in seawater? Or will feedbacks imposed by climate change perturb the interaction between ocean physics, biology, and chemistry in a way that will significantly alter the net ocean uptake of CO2, either positively or negatively? Lamont has a rich history of collaboration among ocean chemists, physicists, and biologists studying the ocean carbon cycle that spans more than half a century. We can build on this history to explore potential perturbations to the ocean carbon cycle and quantify the implications of rising levels of atmospheric CO2.
Ultimately, CO2 may need to be captured from emission sources (e.g., power plants) or from the atmosphere. At Lamont, scientists are actively researching CO2 sequestration by subsurface injection in deep aquifers both on land or offshore and in rocks that react with CO2 through mineral carbonation. Are these technologies feasible on large scales, and what are the environmental and geohazard risks associated with these physical sequestration processes? Organic carbon is also buried within sediments and partly recycled through microbial activity that generates methane. Could we use microbial functions to decrease greenhouse gases in the atmosphere?
Needs and Recommendations. Carbon cycle studies at Lamont will be impacted by upcoming retirements and should be considered as a target for future hires, possibly as part of the Center for Climate and Life.
3.2. Resources: Water, Energy and Food
To maintain sustainable societies on our changing planet, clean water, energy, food resources, clean air, and carbon management strategies will be critical. Managing these resources as the global population grows will be an ongoing challenge, and one that needs to be guided by sound research.
Universal access to safe drinking water is a societal challenge requiring the expertise and creativity of Earth scientists in the fields of hydrology, environmental chemistry, stratigraphy, climate science, and beyond. We must better understand the temporal and spatial distribution as well as the quality and quantity of our freshwater resources. We must also understand how the hydrological cycle will respond to changes in climate and land use if we are to plan effective adaption and mitigation strategies. Greenhouse-gas-induced climate change will stress water resources in already dry areas and increase flood risk in wet regions; changes in land use can further exacerbate these risks.
In addition, we must better understand, through observations and modeling, the movement of water within the surface and subsurface, its interaction with rocks, vegetation, soils, and contaminants, and develop, in particular, improved methods of contamination remediation. As water is possibly the most fundamental limit to societal growth, understanding the pathways and fluxes of fresh water above and below ground is critical to the goal of achieving sustainable societies. Lamont research is presently strong on the atmospheric branch of the hydrological cycle, in environmental tracer applications, and in natural and anthropogenic aspects of groundwater contamination. However, we need to develop a critical mass of freshwater scientists to study the hydrological cycle in its full complexity, linking the oceans, atmosphere, and surface to subsurface flow and its interactions with the solid Earth, cryosphere, biosphere, and human societies.
A second great challenge of global sustainability is meeting the energy and mineral resource needs of an increasingly populated and diverse world. Conventional resources such as phosphate, metals and rare-earth elements are quickly becoming depleted. The mining of primary energy resources within our the carbon economy is leading to ever wider environmental destruction such as tar sand excavation, mountain-top mining, and oil spills in marine ecosystems. Aggressive extraction of energy and mineral resources produces such direct human hazards as well-injection earthquakes and water pollution and indirect adverse health effects. Can research into the development of alternative energy sources and unconventional resources help mitigate the worst effects of the carbon economy, including, of course, the release of greenhouse gases that cause global climate change? For example, could microbial methane be a carbon-neutral energy resource? Scientists at Lamont can provide a comprehensive Earth-systems approach to energy problems. By focusing attention on energy issues in collaboration with engineers and public-policy experts at Columbia University, Lamont can also play an important role in achieving sustainable energy resources in the future.
Needs and Recommendations. The cross-cutting theme of Resources is at the nexus of Lamont’s interactions within the Earth Institute and with Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. This theme has the potential for future joint hires and collaborative programs with other units of the Earth Institute.
Whereas our dynamic Earth makes life possible, it also creates an endless succession of dangers. Extreme events, often associated with intra-plate processes such as earthquakes and volcanoes as well as major weather systems, challenge the resilience of human systems. Thousands of people lose their lives or livelihood each year due to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, droughts, floods, severe storms, and landslides. The need to understand and ultimately predict geohazards, reduce hazard risk, and adapt to their inevitable occurrence drives research that is both important to society and expands our knowledge of fundamental Earth processes.
Specific research questions include: What are the causes of and risks of mega-tsunamis, both earthquake and non-earthquake triggered? How can society adapt to deal with natural hazards including floods, droughts, storms, earthquakes, and volcanoes? How can we improve prediction of floods, droughts, and severe storms? We need a better understanding of fundamental controls on the size and character of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, more monitoring of the behavior of active crustal systems, and improved forecasting abilities. Finally, we need an integrated response to natural disasters that reaches from understanding a disaster scientifically to providing critical information to the public that can be used for mitigation, response, and adaptation.
Needs and Recommendations. To advance understanding of and communication about the risks of geohazards requires enhanced interactions with the Earth Institute, improved communication with the public and policy makers, and focused efforts as exemplified by the new initiatives for Earthquakes and Faulting, Changing Ice and Changing Coastlines, and Extreme Weather and Climate.
4.1 Climate and Life
Vision. Throughout Earth’s history, climate has shaped evolution, embedding its signature on all life. Today, climate change is rapidly altering ecosystems and the basic resources upon which all life, including humankind, depends. There is an urgent need to understand how climate change will impact Earth’s ecosystems and the physical systems that sustain humanity. Scientists involved in the Climate and Life initiative will investigate past and near-term impacts of climate change on the fundamental resources upon which life relies: food, water, shelter, and energy.
Basic Research. The mission of the Climate and Life initiative is to focus research on how climate change shapes, and has shaped, the essentials for human sustainability – specifically the security of food, water, and shelter. Additionally, the initiative will embrace carbon management research to investigate viable carbon capture and storage solutions. The goal of the initiative is to generate new knowledge that serves to guide near-term decision-making by incentivizing our scientists to advance research on the issues that matter most to society.
This initiative will fast track the research needed to understand climate risks facing society now and in the coming decades. Specific research areas include the impacts of climate change on food resources (commodity crops and marine life), fresh water resources and access, natural ecosystem services, air quality, sea-level change and storm surges, extreme weather and climate events, and ocean acidification impacts on marine ecosystems, productivity and genetic diversity. Research on viable carbon capture and storage solutions is needed to reduce emissions and atmospheric CO2 inventories. In addition to research on historical and future changes in these areas, the initiative will also address climate and life themes over the recent geological past to provide important baseline studies and mechanistic insights into a naturally functioning Earth system.
Needs and Recommendations: The strategy of this initiative is to support competitively filled “Climate and Life Fellow” appointments central to the mission of this program. The target will be to develop five “Fellow” appointments, each for up to five years. These Climate and Life Fellowships are designed to be both prestigious and generous, providing both salary and research support.
4.2. Extreme Weather and Climate
Vision. In a routine year for the U.S. and across the globe, extreme weather and climate events – tornadoes, tropical cyclones, floods, droughts, heat waves, and severe storms – cause massive loss of life, physical harm, destruction of homes, businesses, and infrastructure, and social, economic, and ecological disruption. An increased concentration of human activity in risk-prone areas such as deltas, flood plains, coasts, and urban-forest interfaces prone to fire has increased the quantity and frequency of these losses. Further, interactions between circulation extremes and atmospheric chemistry frequently generate air quality and public health crises. The physics of the climate system causes us to suspect that many extremes of weather will intensify under global warming. While the impacts of steady changes in the mean climate are worrying enough, many of the worst impacts of climate change will likely come from extreme events. Evidence is growing that some types of extremes will become more frequent or more intense as a result of warming, while what will happen to some others, such as tornadoes, is highly uncertain.
The Lamont initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate will adopt a unique unifying approach. Historically, extreme events have been studied in isolation, but within this new initiative the physics of extreme phenomena will be studied from the perspective of the temporal and spatial continuum that unites all atmospheric and ocean variability. This initiative will also mesh with a much larger cross-Columbia initiative on weather and climate extremes that will bring together Lamont’s physical scientists with Columbia’s engineers and social scientists in a concentrated effort to study the history and physics of multiple extreme weather and climate events and how to adapt to them. The broad goal of the initiative is to enable humankind to prepare for the century of intensifying extremes ahead.
Basic Research. Lamont is unique in its ability to tackle the dual problems of predicting the risk of occurrence of extreme events as well as their associated impacts. The unmatched breadth and depth of climate research at Lamont, including, for example, cutting-edge studies of hurricanes, droughts, tornadoes, floods, dust storms, and the connections between weather and air quality, allows the science of extreme events to be approached in a way that seeks to discover the common physics underlying all of these phenomena of atmospheric circulation. Similarly, strengths at Lamont and Columbia in the study of the coastal zone, and exposure to risk and its management and mitigation, allows a comprehensive approach that couples the foundational science of extreme events to the applied science, engineering, and social science required to minimize loss of life and livelihood.
Needs and Recommendations. To advance research at Lamont on extreme weather and climate in a changing world requires both deepening our already existing strengths and expanding into new critical areas. Priority areas for adding research strength include the climate-drought-fire-ecological change nexus, the processes and impacts of coastal flooding, and highly damaging, meso-scale convective storms. Specific needs including funding to support a cadre of endowed “Extreme Weather Fellows” and their research, investment in diverse computing infrastructure, and the necessary support personnel and new office space for the Extreme Weather Fellows.
4.3. Changing Ice and Changing Coastlines
Vision. One of the greatest challenges facing society is predicting the fate of polar ice sheets in a globally warming world. Lamont’s strength lies in understanding the fundamental processes that control ice sheet behavior, from ocean forcing on ice shelves to ice dynamics to sub-glacial hydrology to mantle rheology, as well as documenting the rates and controlling factors of past changes in ice volume with innovative observational approaches. Lamont has made important contributions to sea ice forecasting as well as to documenting the response of mountain glaciers to changing global climates. Today, society requires robust predictive ice sheet models coupled with global climate models to accurately forecast future sea level rise and regional climate changes. The vision of the Changing Ice and Changing Coastlines initiative is to advance our understanding of the past, present, and future drivers of ice sheet change, and to build a new generation of models that can be used to forecast future change.
Basic Research. The modern study of the cryosphere can be compared with the state of studies of the ocean floor in the 1960s. As large comprehensive data sets on the ice sheets continue to be collected, major advances in understanding are emerging. The parameterization of flow and deformation of ice under varying thermal and stress conditions is improving rapidly. These advances lead directly to improvements in ice sheet models that require accurate ice physics, well-defined forcing, and clear records of past changes as benchmarks of future change. Fundamental goals of cryospheric science include (a) observations of the changing polar ice sheets and sea ice; (b) improved understanding of ice dynamics and physics, including the interactions with the ocean, atmosphere, crust, mantle, and sea level, and (c) a clearer understanding of the processes that controlled changes in global ice volume and distribution in the past. Lamont is in a unique position to develop an integrated, multidisciplinary approach to these problems that will improve understanding of how the ice sheets, mountain glaciers, and sea ice have responded to past warming and will respond in the future to a warming atmosphere and ocean.
In addition to studying the present dynamic behavior of ice in the polar regions, ice sheet stability can also be inferred through the study of past and current sea level change, as recorded in the geologic record and through ongoing monitoring. How have varying climate conditions in the past impacted the rate and magnitude of sea level change? How does mantle behavior and viscosity influence the record of past sea level change? How can we account for ocean dynamics and thermometric effects? What does this knowledge suggest about polar ice sheet dynamics and feedbacks? Addressing these questions will require documenting and quantifying changes in the coupled cryosphere-atmosphere-ocean system on decadal to centennial time scales, on glacial–interglacial time scales, and in other critical warm intervals of the past. Understanding answers to these questions will allow a more robust evaluation of the human contribution to current observed changes in sea level, as well as improve predictions of future changes in sea level.
Needs and Recommendations. Although cryosphere research is strong at Lamont, a cluster hire is essential to move this initiative forward. These hires will fill key intellectual gaps and provide linkages between existing groups. The hires should be at both the junior and senior levels and should target individuals expert in key processes, including ice-ocean interaction, ice physics, paleoclimate-ice sheet modeling, coastal morphodynamics, and mantle dynamics.
4.4. Earthquakes and Faulting
Vision. Earthquakes and slower deformational events, the manifestation of localized slip along fault zones, account for most of the crustal deformation associated with plate motions. The Earthquakes and Faulting initiative is intended to be a holistic research approach that brings together the strong and diverse community at Lamont pursuing earthquake science. Interactions among experts in seismology, geodesy, imaging, mechanics, field studies, and modeling at Lamont now occur on a project-by-project basis. The new initiative would bring together researchers who are examining different parts of the system to tackle this high-priority topic, while deepening collaborations across disciplines, nucleating new research directions and projects, more effectively responding to large destructive events with analysis and outreach, and coordinating capacity building and other training. Such an initiative will facilitate the development of large trans-disciplinary projects that will connect Lamont scientists to other parts of the Earth Institute and Columbia University. The initiative will form a focal point for collaboration, as well as local and global communication.
Basic Research. The broad goal in enhancing the collaboration among groups at Lamont is to make rapid progress on the central questions of earthquake science, including the factors that determine maximum potential earthquake size, earthquake cycles and long-term rupture history, the role of fluids in fault zones, slip style (seismic versus aseismic), the importance of faults in magmatic systems, tsunami genesis, and the prediction of earthquake geohazards on a range of temporal and spatial scales, which could significantly reduce societal risk. This initiative would also play a key role in the communication of public information about earthquakes and faulting. Lamont scientists are often sought by the media after an earthquake because of Lamont’s leading role in global seismic networks and our large cadre of scientists with expertise in earthquakes and global tectonics. This initiative will yield an improved and broadened response to large events around the world and will facilitate coordinated data analysis and outreach following earthquakes. Lamont’s response could include both integrated slip inversions (geodetic and seismic), generation of earthquake bulletins with tectonic context, and provision of basic talking points. The initiative will also provide a home for the coordinated study of anthropogenic earthquake issues such as induced seismicity, hydraulic fracturing, and geothermal energy.
Needs and Recommendations. As a focus for collaboration and a hub of public communication and outreach, the Earthquakes and Faulting initiative will provide seed grants for new projects, organize visiting speakers, and support collaborations through focused seminars, field trips, and mini-workshops. Workshops after large events will be particularly timely to coordinate the generation of proposals targeted to intensive follow-on investigations.
4.5. Earth in Real Time
Vision. The Earth sciences are being transformed by immediate access to real-time data from in-situ and remote observing systems, including a growing array of satellites, cabled observatories, and autonomous airborne and underwater observing systems. Not long ago, ship-based observations were the primary tool for gathering information about the ocean. Now, a shift in observational capabilities toward a real-time, interactive presence in the ocean is markedly altering our understanding of the two-thirds of the surface of our planet that is covered with water. As part of this transformation, the oceanographic community is undergoing a technological revolution in the way that ocean and seafloor processes are observed. Real-time data from remote observing systems are bringing about a radical shift in the way we study a wide range of processes, including the formation and evolution of the oceanic lithosphere, chemosynthetic biological production, carbon cycling in the crust, and physical and biological processes in the open ocean. Real-time observations are essential for climate forecasting and are also assimilated into models that produce the continuously updated atmosphere and ocean datasets that have revolutionized climate research. It is vital that Lamont help lead this scientific revolution by investing in the scientific and technological resources required to obtain and analyze “real-time” observations.
Basic Research. Lamont is home to an unusual breadth of observational scientists who study fundamental processes in the global ocean. Some of these processes are seafloor earthquakes and eruptions; ecosystems, the deep biosphere, and crustal fluid flow; the global ocean overturning circulation and the accompanying transport of heat, chemicals, and nutrients; ocean turbulence and mixing at the meso-, submeso-, and molecular scales; air-sea exchange and interaction with the atmosphere; seasonal and decadal prediction of the climate system; and the study of phytoplankton ecosystems through remote sensing. To understand such fundamental Earth processes, an interdisciplinary approach coupled with continuous observations is needed. The ability to maintain a scientific presence in the oceans via remote observing systems is essential to achieving this goal, as well as providing data and results on a time scale that is meaningful and helpful to society at large.
The breadth of foundational science at Lamont maximizes our potential for transformative interdisciplinary work in developing new ways of generating and interpreting data in real time. This initiative will coordinate efforts to enhance our real-time observational capabilities as well as develop a strong engineering support system. This initiative should also endeavor to leverage the extensive Earth science database activities within Lamont. Advances in informatics will provide a foundation for tackling computational and analytical challenges associated with massive datasets generated by real-time observing systems distributed throughout the global ocean.
Needs and Recommendations. The Earth in Real Time initiative will provide coordination and critical mass for designing, implementing, analyzing, and visualizing real-time Earth system observations. Of particular importance will be the development of a stable base of engineering support staff to accelerate the establishment of Lamont as a leader in real-time ocean observations. Another focus will be to invest in the information technology resources needed to handle the rapidly growing volume of data associated with this research. A third focus will be on helping to turn some of our current scientific strengths toward the development of creative experiments and new instrumentation that takes advantage of nascent platforms for real-time Earth observation, as well as hiring new talent to expand our capabilities in this area. Several targeted faculty hires of observationalists focused on instrument development, along with strengthened support for engineers at Lamont, will enhance the Observatory’s ability to lead in this technological and scientific revolution.
5.1. Innovative Observational Technologies
Lamont was founded on extraordinary science that leveraged Cold War technologies such as magnetometers and seismometers to observe, measure, sample, and explore the global oceans. From these instruments emerged key data that formed the underpinnings of the fields of plate tectonics and paleoceanography. Today, Lamont continues to observe the planet with innovative technologies such as the unique three-dimensional imaging capabilities of the R/V Marcus Langseth; the advanced seismometers developed by our ocean-bottom seismometer (OBS) laboratory; the rich analytic capabilities of the Comer Building laboratories, including its new ultra clean laboratory; the Lamont-Doherty Cooperative Seismographic Network, operated in the northeastern U.S.; the ice imaging system IcePod, developed in the Polar Geophysics Laboratory; and the downhole traces of climate change and tectonics studied by the Borehole Research Group. Lamont must continue to be at the leading edge of innovations in imaging, sampling, and measurement of the planet to maintain its leadership in observational technologies.
Establishing and supporting large groups of technologists and engineers usually falls to observation-intensive programs such as the Borehole Group, Ocean Bottom Seismometer Lab, and Polar Geophysics Laboratory. The Observatory would benefit from the establishment and maintenance of a vibrant, shared-use, world-class technical staff with access to the engineering facilities needed to support new instrument development capabilities and to enable continued access to new measurements. Deepening the resources available for technical innovation and welcoming input from all members of the Lamont community, from graduate students to senior scientists, will ensure the seeding of new innovative concepts. In parallel, lab assistants and lab support for daily operations and repairs are necessary but very difficult to fund through federal grants. Finally, sample storage continues to be a pressing issue that must be addressed.
Needs and Recommendations. The Paros Innovation Fund provides some support for technical innovation, but access to larger seed funds for technological innovation is necessary to foster a creative technology development effort at Lamont. Growth in analytical capabilities and personnel should be considered a campus-wide initiative, one that will enable junior scientists in particular to develop new measurements, new techniques, and new insights into the Earth system.
5.2. Data and Computing Infrastructure Needs
The Earth sciences are entering a new era of data generation, collection, analysis and numerical simulation. Our observational and modeling efforts produce increasingly large volumes of data. Technological and computational advances enable and often require that very large datasets be acquired, mined, analyzed, and archived. Sophisticated numerical modeling efforts such as those addressing questions about climate, Earth system processes, geodynamics, and ocean physics require high-performance computing and often have large data transmission and storage requirements. Scientific problems relying on remote sensing, video image analysis, seismic data processing, ice-penetrating radar imaging, and other computationally intensive techniques can have similar data handling requirements. The era of "Big data" has already arrived at Lamont, and “big” is getting bigger fast. In order to remain competitive, the Observatory must prepare to support scientific research that will involve ever-increasing quantities of data and will exploit a cyber infrastructure capable of supporting the transmission, analysis, and storage of these immense quantities of data.
Needs and Recommendations
Network Throughput. The top priority for the Observatory in the area of cyber infrastructure in the coming years is to accelerate the expansion and upgrade of network throughput capability. All other improvements such as added clusters, local cloud computing, and storage availability will require fast campus-wide interconnections to function effectively and efficiently. Plans are currently underway to upgrade parts of the campus network to 10–40 Gb/s. We now have fiber lines in place connecting Lamont to the Columbia University intra-campus ring and dark (unused) fiber connecting many of the buildings on campus, but most of our switches and routers cannot take full advantage of these lines. Some of our equipment is still operating at 100 Mb/s speeds. The Observatory must dedicate substantial additional resources to address network throughput issues on campus in the very near term.
Computing Resources. Computer infrastructure is a central component of nearly every scientific endeavor at Lamont, whether on the scale of large multi-core clusters for simulations and processing, high-capacity desktop workstations for data analysis and visualization, or portable laptop computing for field data acquisition, presentation, and publication. Servicing this diverse computing environment is a significant challenge for Lamont’s computer support group, and maintaining and upgrading this infrastructure is very difficult given current university regulations on computational funding in sponsored projects. Institutional investment is clearly required to reorganize the funding and support of computer resources, yet institutionally supported computing resources can involve large investments of funding into equipment that may become obsolete in just a few years. Another potential model for the institutional support of computation and storage would be to allow individual scientists and groups to install their own computing and storage solutions into an institutionally supported ecosystem that includes rack space, climate control, 24/7 power, administration, and virtualization support. A funding model or cost-sharing plan for such a system would need to be developed. This kind of arrangement could strike a balance between the need for more centralized administration and a smoother upgrade pathway. Software systems for managing virtualization and distributed computing resources are mature.
Geoinformatics. Data mining and informatics are an engineering and infrastructure concern, as well as a full-fledge area of scientific inquiry. Because the Observatory hosts the Integrated Earth Data Applications (IEDA) data facility, the Rolling Deck to Repository (R2R) program, and many other data discovery and archival services, Lamont is in a unique position to make substantial contributions to the field of geoinformatics. The Observatory should make a research faculty hire in geoinformatics to continue our leadership in large data efforts.
Planning. A computing infrastructure planning committee or task force must be formed to help direct and accelerate short- and long-term network upgrade efforts, develop new funding models for computing support, and lead the Observatory into a competitive position for supporting data-intensive science in the 21st century.
6.1. Strengthening Lamont’s Linkages to the Earth Institute, Columbia University, and the Broader Global Community
As Lamont scientists study our dynamic planet they recognize the need to support solutions aimed at creating a sustainable future for humankind. Collaboration with other units of the Earth Institute presents an ideal opportunity to translate the basic science emerging from Lamont into workable, sustainable solutions. Lamont scientists can help develop approaches to sustainable development, especially in less developed countries, focusing on information critical to sustainable food and water production for society with minimal associated environmental degradation.
For instance, numerous areas around the world are experiencing groundwater depletion as growing populations place great demands on water resources. How will climate change impact glaciers and water supplies in central Asia and the Himalayas, and how can we design mitigation and adaptation strategies? How will subtropical regions faced with increased aridity be able to develop adequate water resources? How will the millions of inhabitants of coastal deltas around the world manage rising sea levels? Such problems need to be addressed and solved by networks of Earth scientists, engineers, and social scientists that Lamont, the Earth Institute, and Columbia University are uniquely positioned to create. Our goal is to translate basic research into societally useful results and recommendations. Through stronger collaborations and alliances with the Earth Institute and the wider Columbia community, the Observatory can play a key role in moving society towards a sustainable steady state.
As the leading research center within Columbia University’s Earth Institute, Lamont must promote its role as an intellectual hub while leveraging its open space. Lamont should develop well-advertised meeting space supported by planning personnel at which the Earth Institute and other parts of Columbia can hold events and meetings. Lamont has long been an intellectual leader within its discipline; by promoting the campus as a destination for workshops, conferences, and planning meetings, we will build stronger, more effective collaborations and partnerships. Such an initiative will also benefit Lamont scientists through the organization of workshops and meetings between colleagues at Lamont and other institutions.
Needs and Recommendations. As the leading research center within Columbia University’s Earth Institute, Lamont must promote its role as an intellectual hub while leveraging its open space. Lamont should develop well-advertised meeting space supported by planning personnel at which the Earth Institute and other parts of Columbia can hold events and meetings. Lamont has long been an intellectual leader within its discipline; by promoting the campus as a destination for workshops, conferences, and planning meetings, we will build stronger, more effective collaborations and partnerships. Such an initiative will also benefit Lamont scientists through the organization of workshops and meetings between colleagues at Lamont and other institutions.
6.2. Policy, Communication, and Outreach in Pursuit of an Educated and Sustainable Society
Society faces huge challenges due to changing conditions on Earth’s surface. The responses of individuals, as well as governments and industry, will be guided by their understanding and knowledge of Earth science. For example, scientists need to be able to communicate the science behind, and increase awareness of, climate change. We also need to clearly communicate the science behind climate change mitigation and adaption strategies so that informed policy decisions can be made by others. Indeed, we need to translate all the excitement and importance of our basic scientific research to the general public.
Central to Lamont’s communication and outreach efforts should be a commitment by its scientists and staff to a more public presence. This is a core “branding” or name-recognition requirement. Lamont should be the go-to place for science-based climate change communication. We need to be able to convey an understanding of the implications of climate change, geohazards, sea-level change, or severe weather for urban and rural areas, including information about adaptation or mitigation, to diverse and varied audiences.
Needs and Recommendations. Communication and outreach are a responsibility of a modern scientist, and the Observatory must continue to support its scientists by facilitating communication opportunities and providing training and support. The communication hub facet of the Earthquakes and Faulting initiative will be one experiment in putting specific science-based communication goals within the research infrastructure. If this experiment is successful, a similar model should be adopted for other parts of the Lamont (for instance, on topics ranging from extreme weather to the changing cryosphere).
6.3. Funding and Resources: The Research Professor Financial Model
At the town hall meetings held on campus during the strategic planning process that led to this report, the single greatest obstacle expressed by the campus community was funding. The move to the nine-month salary basis helped to make Lamont Research Professor positions more competitive with teaching positions at other colleges and universities. Although the Research Professor financial model has provided improved salary support, the incentive plan designed to raise additional federal funds toward faculty salaries has not been broadly effective. Modifying the incentive plan to make it more appealing could free endowment income to support other operations across the Observatory. The difficulty in raising research and salary funds is a source of anxiety within the research faculty community. Although Lamont cannot directly influence the inadequacy of federal science budgets, we should revisit the financial model.
The second widely voiced concern was a need to increase the level of hard money support through fundraising for the endowment. Increasing the number of months of hard-money support for research professors at both the junior and senior level would address this issue.
Needs and Recommendations. A restructuring of the Research Professor incentive plan should make the incentives more incremental and thus more attainable. Many misperceptions still exist regarding what is best for the individual scientist and the institution. A full and open discussion of the plan would encourage the research faculty community to adopt a new program in a supportive fashion. Fundraising to increase the level of hard-money support for Research Professor positions should be a priority for the development office.
6.4. Fostering Interdisciplinary Research and a Sense of Community at Lamont
Many of the major advances in Earth science have emerged from interdisciplinary research, which is often fostered by integrating datasets across disciplines. Whether such collaborations are between dendrochronologists and climate modelers or geochemists and marine geophysicists, these interdisciplinary collaborations are where the sparks of discovery often emerge. Lamont must implement efforts large and small to foster these interactions in order to support and encourage innovation among the next generation of researchers.
Needs and Recommendations. It is the sense of community and shared mission that contributes to making Lamont a special place. Several simple approaches will foster interdisciplinary research and enhance personal interactions. (1) Lamont should develop thematic seminar series rather than the current division-based series, as well as provide support to bring in outside speakers. (2) Food fosters communications. A weekly tea should be established, perhaps one that moves between buildings as a means of encouraging people to move from space to space. Good coffee, tea, and free food will draw people into conversations. (3) Take advantage of our beautiful campus by creating aesthetically inviting outdoor spaces where Lamont staff can congregate, talk, or share meals. Similarly, while the Comer and Monell Buildings have nicely appointed indoor and outdoor public spaces with inviting chairs and tables, other buildings such as Geoscience and Oceanography have such spaces but without appealing furniture or decor.
Education and diversity were raised at the campus town hall meetings as issues that require focused attention to ensure that Lamont remains scientifically competitive nationally and globally. As a result, the Strategic Planning Committee requested briefings on education programs and diversity from the Director’s Office. The committee's feedback and advice on these issues are presented here, and both require deeper review and planning efforts.
Education and outreach efforts are a requirement of much of the federal funding that forms the core of Lamont’s research portfolio. Broader impact statements require an investment of time and energy to have significant outcomes. Lamont’s Open House, currently operated by the Development Office along with the annual Public Lecture series, is often the primary venue for outreach efforts. In addition, several high-profile programs bring thousands of students to the Hudson River, support undergraduate summer internships with Lamont scientists, engage students in science-based land-use planning, engage teachers in Earth science at Lamont, offer international students an exchange opportunity, and provide atmospheric carbon data for students to evaluate. The majority of these programs are run on a patchwork of federal, state, and foundation funding with little centralized support or coordination.
Lamont scientists currently pursue education and outreach in a somewhat haphazard fashion with little centralized support or assistance. The committee recommends developing a coherent plan for education and outreach targeting high-return efforts and coordinating the various efforts across campus. Our goal should be to harness the energy and enthusiasm at Lamont for education and outreach and move it from a patchwork program to a planned effort enabling individuals to leverage their ideas and efforts into deeper, broader impacts. Such efforts would also advance the strategic goal of better communicating Lamont research to the broader public.
With respect to increasing diversity within its workforce, Lamont has been very proactive since the initiation of the $5 million ADVANCE program supported by the National Science Foundation from 2004 to 2009. The ADVANCE program aimed to recruit, retain, and promote women scientists and engineers through innovative hiring practices, in particular cultivating an environment that fosters and attracts women and minority leaders, and stimulates an institutional cultural shift based on social science research about gender and race. As a direct result of the ADVANCE program, the representation of women on both the research and teaching faculties went from single to double digits; Lamont is now viewed as a leader in diversity initiatives within Columbia University.
Lamont’s Office of Academic Affairs and Diversity currently supports the post-doctoral scientists and oversees programs such as the Marie Tharp Fellowship, leadership forums, the Science of Diversity lecture series, and the Research Life workshops. It has been almost a decade since the start of the ADVANCE program. The committee recommends a review of the activities conducted by the Office of Academic Affairs and Diversity, with the goal of providing guidance for future efforts in increasing diversity in the Earth and environmental sciences. The review should consider the data for the past 20 years for both women and under-represented minorities, and the administration and research staff should work with the office to develop a planning document and recommendations for the next five years.
Strategic Planning Committee Members
Robin E. Bell, co-chair
Maureen E. Raymo, co-chair
Robert F. Anderson
Timothy J. Crone
James B. Gaherty
Andrew R. Juhl
Heather M. Savage
Tiffany A. Shaw
Donna J. Shillington
The Strategic Plan was completed in March 2014.
Illustrations by ARK Design.
Cover image: Lamont scientists and colleagues make observations and collect rock samples from the exposed tills on the edge of Antarctica's massive Foundation Ice Stream. (Trevor Williams)
Visit www.ldeo.columbia.edu to learn more about Lamont.
Please sign up for our e-newsletter if you’d like to receive monthly updates on our research and educational activities.