State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Sustaining Discovery Once Fieldwork Is Complete

Watch a short video about the research of Lamont-Doherty geochemists and learn how you can support it.

Researchers from the Earth Institute’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory study the planet’s dynamic earth processes by venturing to the source, whether it be the submerged mountains of the Antarctic, the volcanoes of Southern Italy, or the stalagmite-rich caves of Utah. Yet while they rely upon expeditions to collect critical data relating to specific research topics, it is back in the lab where sophisticated analyses are made, patterns emerge and many big ideas are borne.

With this in mind, the Observatory is always on a quest to provide world-class facilities for its researchers to facilitate future discoveries. In January 2010, Lamont-Doherty secured a highly competitive $1.4 million matching grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology to help construct academia’s most advanced ultra clean geochemistry laboratory, which will allow researchers to make great headway on the critical topic of climate change.

Schaefer says that in each of his experiments he is discovering information about past climates that no one has ever known before.
Schaefer says that in each of his experiments he is discovering information about past climates that no one has ever known before.

“Now advances in technology allow us to tease out of our samples orders of magnitude more information. In my field of research, the most exciting discoveries are most often made in the lab,” says geochemist Bärbel Hönisch, whose research was selected by Discover Magazine as one of 2009’s top 100 science stories.

And while geochemist Joerg Schaefer and his team scour various continents to collect rock samples left in the wake of receding glaciers, he interprets his findings by submitting his samples to intricate geochemical applications in the Cosmogenic Dating Laboratory he heads in Lamont’s new Gary C. Comer Geochemistry Building. It is here that Schaefer and his colleagues advance our understanding of how the climate system operated in the past and how it might behave in the future.

Discover Magazine recognized Hönisch and her colleagues for developing a clever new technique to gauge historical levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Discover Magazine recognized Hönisch and her colleagues for developing a clever new technique to gauge historical levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Numerous private individuals, inspired by the federal challenge grant, have donated generously to the Ultra Clean Lab campaign. Of note are two gifts—one anonymous for $400,000 and one made by the Botwinick-Wolfensohn Foundation for $200,000. All together, we are half way to meeting the match, but the clock is ticking!

If you would like to make a lasting contribution to the field of science, please consider making a gift today. The impact of your gift will be reflected in each new discovery, in every question answered.

For information about how to support the Ultra Clean Lab or about naming opportunities in the building, please contact Lamont-Doherty Director for Development Barbara Charbonnet at 845-365-8585 or bcharb@ldeo.columbia.edu.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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