State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

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Lamont-Doherty Strategic Plan

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory has been a leader in the study of our planet since its founding 65 years ago. Today, Observatory scientists continue the institution’s long tradition of addressing important questions in the Earth and planetary sciences. The Observatory is one of the largest and most distinguished Earth science research institutions in the world, with a vibrant research and educational community made up of more than 600 scientists, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and administrative staff.

Lamont Strategic Plan

Lamont is a core component of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, which brings together people and tools to address some of the world’s most challenging problems, from climate change and environmental degradation to poverty, disease and the sustainable use of resources.

The Observatory’s new Strategic Plan outlines an approach that will guide the Observatory over the next ten years in its two-fold quest to remain at the forefront of research in basic Earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences, and to become a leading intellectual center in the integration of Earth, human and environmental sciences to support and promote sustainability in a rapidly changing world.

In the next decade, Lamont will continue to pursue fundamental scientific research on the most pressing and relevant questions concerning Earth processes. Observatory scientists are committed to supporting the three major core strengths that provide the foundation upon which all of the Observatory’s interdisciplinary work rests. These areas 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, Geohazards, and Resources: Water, Energy and Food.

Five new initiatives are the focus of Lamont’s research in the coming decade. Each of these interdisciplinary initiatives anticipates important near-term advances in basic science and addresses one or more issues of major societal importance, and represents new directions for the Observatory. These are:

  1. The recently established program for Climate and Life.
  2. A newly formed program for the study of Extreme Weather and Climate, with a focus on the effects of long-term change.
  3. An initiative on Changing Ice, Changing Coastlines that focuses on ice sheet dynamics and sea level response on a warming planet.
  4. An initiative for the study of Earthquakes and Faulting.
  5. An initiative for understanding the dynamic Earth in Real Time.

Through an emphasis on these research themes, the Observatory will be poised to understand and manage the critical environmental issues facing our planet, while remaining a world leader in Earth science research and education.

Explore the Lamont Strategic Plan to learn more about the Observatory’s vision for the future.

Visit to learn more about Lamont. You can also find Lamont on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.


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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