International Research Institute for Climate and Society / Photo: Sari Blakeley. Meeting with female farmers in Bagerhat district, Bangladesh, in October 2014. Partners from the World Fish Center accompanied Mélody Braun and Sari Blakeley on a visit to consult farmers about their agricultural risks, risk management, and risk reduction actions they were taking in order to understand the potential usefulness of implementing risk transfer projects in the region.
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory / Photo: Winnie Chu.
The Rosetta project is focused on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica. This shelf plays a critical role in stabilizing the Antarctic ice sheet, buttressing the ice that is constantly moving over the land surface. Studying how the ice, ocean
and underlying land interact will inform us of potential change in the ice shelf from projected climate change. IcePod, shown along the front of the shelf, is a critical instrument in completing this project.
Columbia Water Center / Photo: Lauren Butler.
Lake Huacracocha in the Andes Mountains of Peru. Multiple mines and mineral processing plants are located nearby. Treatment of mining waste can cause lakes to reflect light differently, causing the turquoise-blue color. This research is part of the Mining-related Water and Environmental Risks and their Financial Implications project, supported by a 3-year grant from Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM).
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory / Photo: Marco Tedesco. The summer season over the Greenland ice sheet is characterized by surface melting, creating a texture of patterns with supraglacial lakes and streams, crevasses and canyons. Over the past decades, melting has been increasing in Greenland, hence increasing its contribution to sea level rise. In this project, we specifically study how meltwater drains and how albedo (e.g., how ‘bright’ the surface is) modulates melting.
International Research Institute for Climate and Society / Photo: Mélody Braun. Local facilitators from WFP and local ONG La Lumiere play the IRI’s index insurance educational game with a community in Tambacounda, Senegal, as part of the R4 Rural Resilience project. Participatory processes allow farmers’ participation at all stages of index design, while collecting key information on local agroclimatological context and risk management strategies, ensuring value, a sense of ownership, and the capacity of the drought insurance product to respond to local needs.
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory / Photo: Dave Funkhouser. Towers of calcite “tufa” punctuate the landscape in and around Mono Lake in eastern California, evidence the highly alkaline and salty lake was once much higher than today. Using deposits left by algae on the tufa, researchers are dating the history of lake levels and correlating it to changes in climate.
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory / Photo: Joaquim Goes. In the Amazon River Plume, ship and satellite data are being collected to help understand the influence of the Amazon River on the pelagic ecosystem, carbon cycling and sequestration in the tropical north Atlantic and the sensitivity of this ecosystem to anthropogenic climate change.
Urban Design Lab/ Photo: Robert Elliott. Multi-year monitoring on the 2.5 acre green roof atop the USPS Morgan facility in midtown Manhattan has helped to reveal and define their ability to capture stormwater and reduce temperature.
Columbia Water Center/ Photo: Jeremy Hinsdale.
Falling water tables have put both Gujarat’s aquifers and agricultural productivity at risk. The Columbia Water Center’s innovative project in North Gujarat is designed to help farmers conserve water, cut energy use and employ sustainable farming techniques. In order to succeed, such efforts require working closely with community members as well as forming partnerships with local stakeholders and other organizations.
International Research Institute for Climate and Society / Photo: Francesco Fiondella. Drocella Ukamfizi, Ngorogero district, Rwanda, prepares her bean field for sowing. IRI and the CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security have worked with the Rwandan government to rebuild a generation of meteorological records lost because of the 1994 genocide. With the newly available data, the CCAFS Rwanda Climate Services for Agriculture project hopes to reach a million farmers with new climate tools and services to reduce risks to climate extremes.
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory / Photo: Margie Turrin. The Arctic system is undergoing profound change. Loss of summer sea ice cover brings uncertainty about how an ice free Arctic Ocean might affect precipitation which will affect land ice, especially the Greenland Ice Sheet. The Snow on Ice project focuses on the interconnectivity of changing sea ice, climate and the Greenland Ice Sheet. Glacial erratics samples were collected for exposure dating along with sediment cores from the glacial lakes.
International Research Institute for Climate and Society / Photo: Elisabeth Gawthrop. The IRI’s financial instruments sector team works with farmers around the world to design agriculture insurance that’s useful and relevant to farmers’ needs. Team members use games to inform their research because they create a relaxed atmosphere in which farmers feel comfortable intervening and actively participating. This helps give a voice to individuals who are not always used to being consulted. Games can also be the best way to uncover farmers’ true-to-life preferences about insurance.
Center for International Earth Science Information Network / Photo: Sylwia Trzaska. Most of the fishing in Sierra Leone is still artisanal. Fishermen prefer to live close to their fishing grounds and numerous villages are located on the mudflats, within the mangroves, just a few feet above sea level. Those villages will be among the most affected by sea level rise and increase in storminess due to climate change. West African Biodiversity and Climate Change project (WABiCC), funded by USAID, aims at building resilience to climate change in the coastal communities of Sierra Leone.
International Research Institute for Climate and Society / Photo: Markus Enenkel. The financial instruments sector team at IRI Columbia develops weather insurance indices in collaboration with international partners and local smallholder farmers. Our indices aim at unlocking the agricultural potential by protecting farmers against production risks related to weather shocks. Identifying the worst drought years is an integral part of index development. The picture shows the “bad years exercise” in Malawi.
Center for Climate Systems Research, AgMIP / Photo: Delphine Deryng. Many crops may suffer damage from heat and water stress as the world warms. But the carbon dioxide causing the warming could also have a fertilizing effect, and could help mitigate some of the damage. Scientists study the role of elevated CO2 effects on crops with field experiments that expose crops to high CO2 levels. Here, maize and soybean fields operated by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Columbia Water Center / Photo: Marceau Guerin.
The photo is taken on the trail below the base camp and the flux tower of K64 site for the GOAmazon project funded by the Department of Energy (DOE); other collaborators include Brown University, Rutgers University, Carnegie Institute and several Brazilian universities. The river is actually more acidic than usual which prevents development of much biological life and allows the field crew to swim after a day of work at the tower.
International Research Institute for Climate and Society / Photo: Catherine Vaughan. Joaquín Díaz –left—and Ángel Muñoz –right— attach weather sensors and a camera to a tethered balloon near Ologá. The Catatumbo region, located in Venezuela’s Lake Maracaibo Basin, is the place with the highest lightning density rate in the entire planet, threatening lives and livelihoods, and routinely resulting in large economic losses for the national oil, gas and electric companies. We are providing a better understanding of the weather and climate drivers of lightning-related hazards by using models and analyzing new data from a real-time lightning detector network and several field campaigns.
Urban Design Lab / Photo: Nandan Shetty. In July 2016, students work at a small garden designed to absorb rainwater in the Corona neighborhood of Queens, NY. They are sampling the soil in order to determine correlations with plant health and drainage characteristics. This work is part of the Coastal Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability project operated out of the Urban Design Lab. The National Science Foundation-funded project, a collaboration among several Earth Institute centers and Columbia schools, studies how New York City urban green infrastructure can mitigate coastal zone pollution.
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Secondary School Field Research Program / Photo: Elisangela Lofrano. Drilling down: Two members of the Carbon Team take a core sample from Piermont Marsh. After collection, the sample was dried and baked in a laboratory to measure carbon content. The data collected will be used to help determine the amount of carbon sequestration in the marsh.
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory / Photo: Tim Kenna. GEOTRACES samples different trace elements in the ocean waters that can be an asset and a liability in the marine system, providing either essential nutrients for biologic productivity, or toxic inputs to a rapidly warming system. Arctic GEOTRACES focuses on the smallest and shallowest of the world’s oceans and the one most under siege from climate change. Sampling close to an open edge can mean a quick lowering to the ice.
To celebrate our 20th anniversary, we asked members of the Earth Institute community to submit photographs for a 2017 wall calendar highlighting the global, interdisciplinary, and real-world impact of our work. The response was overwhelming, with submissions coming from faculty, staff, and students from across our centers and programs. This slideshow includes a sampling of the many submissions we received.
The 2017 calendar is
available now with a $25 donation, while supplies last.
For more than one calendar, please contact Samantha O’Brien at