Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Research by scientists affiliated with the Earth Institute at Columbia University


Following are summaries of a few of the papers being presented at the AGU meeting by scientists affiliated with the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

Global Poverty

Mapping Poverty: The Geographical And Biophysical Correlates Of Hunger And Infant Mortality

It is difficult to design programs to reduce poverty unless you understand where and why that poverty occurs. De Sherbinin and colleagues present recent efforts to integrate global spatial datasets and survey microdata to investigate worldwide drivers of hunger and infant mortality. Data specialists at Columbia’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) are mapping poverty indicators as part of a United Nations-led effort to improve ability to diagnose the causes of poverty and hunger around the world. Alexander M. de Sherbinin, Senior Staff Associate, CIESIN, (, 845-365-8936) This paper is presented as part of the AGU Special Session on Earth science, human wellbeing, and the alleviation of global poverty. Convened by: John Mutter, Arthur Lerner-Lam, and Daniel Schrag


Improved Technique To Revolutionize Radiocarbon Dating

Chiu and Fairbanks present new research that has doubled the timeline over which radiocarbon dating can be performed, and shown a flaw in current radiocarbon dating techniques that has skewed previous fossil dating hundreds to thousands of years in the past. The research shows that a new type of mass sectrometer, combined with an adjustment to the pretreatment and screening of fossil corals, an excellent archive for extending calibration beyond the tree ring records, makes dating much more accurate and precise. Scientists applying radiocarbon dating to their research have since 1998 depended on the radiocarbon calibration curve by Stuiver, which only goes back 20,400 years. “We believe that our doubling of this calibration and significant refinement along with the geophysical and geochemical interpretations will make our new calibration curve the standard for radiocarbon dating,” predicts Fairbanks. Richard Fairbanks, Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (DEES) (, 845-365-8499), and Clara Chiu, graduate student. Dr. Fairbanks will also, separately, present a refined model of continental deglaciation, with an accurate new methodology for predicting changes in sea level as a result of changes in land ice volume.

Climate Change

Origins Of Arctic Soot

The fragile Arctic is especially susceptible to the impacts of particles and other pollution. Soot, transported to the Arctic from Asia, Europe, and elsewhere, may affect the radiative balance there, shifting temperature profiles, clouds and precipitation. Absorbing particles, such as black carbon or soot, may accelerate ice and snow melting. Dorothy Koch and James Hansen discuss what global climate models reveal about the origins of black carbon, in the Arctic. Model results suggest a larger contribution of soot and other particles from South Asia to the Arctic than has been inferred in previous Arctic haze studies. Dorothy Koch, Associate Research Scientist, GISS at Columbia, 212-678-5605,; James Hansen, Director, GISS at Columbia, 212-678-5500,

Using Regional Models To Assess Potential For Extreme Climate Change

Barry Lynn and Cynthia Rosenzweig discuss exciting progress in the study of climate change and its potential impacts on human society. The team used the circulation pattern from General Circulation Models (GCMs) as background (lateral boundary) conditions to simulate climate change at the regional and local (or city) scale. Results from these models can be used to study human impacts such as health impacts, or future water and energy requirements. The authors’ analysis of the modeled data, compared with observational data, suggests that extreme climate change should be considered as a possible outcome of greenhouse forcing on the earth-climate system. Barry H. Lynn, Associate Research Scientist, Center for Climate Systems Research (212 678 5543;, Cynthia Rosenzweig, Adjunct Senior Research Scholar GISS at Columbia (212 678 5562;

Waht Do Long-term Warming Trends Tell Us About Recent Climate Change? A Look At The Dynamics Of 20th Centruy Climate Trends
Chen and colleagues present analysis of 20th century global climate trends, using long-term records to separate for the first time the human-induced trend from shorter-term variations that are unrelated to climate change. The authors discuss the mechanisms behind climate trends, including the weak warming trend perceived in the Pacific Ocean, and contemplate the atmospheric response to the warming that determines how regional climate is changing in the tropics. Junye Chen, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (, 212-678-5556); Anthony Del Genio, Adjunct Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences (, 212-678-5588); Barbara Carlson, Physical Scientist, Goddard Institute for Space Studies (, 212-678-5538).

Seismic Mapping

Earthquakes in Italy: The Cat/Scan Seismic Experiment

To understand the subterranean structures that influence earthquakes in Italy, an international team has deployed 39 broad-band seismometers in a two-dimensional array extending from the southern Apennines into Calabria. Calabria is the toe of Italy, and part of the most seismically active belt in Italy. The international project, supported by the National Science Foundation, is known as the Calabrian-Apennine-Tyrrhenian/ Subduction-Collision-Accretion Network (CAT/SCAN). In a series of AGU presentations, members of the team discuss their preliminary findings on what is driving active structures below the earth’s surface. Michael Steckler, Doherty Senior Scientist,, 845-365-8479, Art Lerner-Lam, Director, Center for Hazards and Risk Research, Earth Institute at Columbia (, 845-365-8356), Leonardo Seeber, Doherty Senior Research Scientist, LDEO, (, 845-365-8385), and Deirdre Commins, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, LDEO (, 845-365-8580).

Seismicity And Fault Structure In CA: Improved Data and Imaging

Felix Waldhauser, David Schaff, and colleagues present research aimed at increasing understanding of seismicity and fault structures throughout Northern California. The research team used the previously known techniques of waveform cross correlation to improve seismic arrival time measurements, and multiple event location techniques to reduce model errors. They applied these techniques on a massive scale to all 250,000 events recorded in the NCSN catalog of Northern California. The authors comment on and present results from ongoing efforts, based on these newly adjusted data, to produce more accurate and detailed images of fault structures in Northern California and their correlation with the local geology. Felix Waldhauser, Doherty Associate Research Scientist, LDEO (, 845-365-8538). Dr. Waldhauser with colleages Bill Ellsworth and David Oppenheimer of the US Geological Survey, will also be discussing research on the recent Parkfield M6 earthquake in Central California that occurred on September 28, 2004.


The How And Why Of Ocean Floor Gas Blowout Structures

Along the U.S. Atlantic margin are sites where giant methane gas explosions have occurred, and other places that are actively emitting methane as well as fluid from under the seafloor. Oceanographers from the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory and elsewhere conducted surveys of these structures aboard the R/V Cape Hatteras in July, 2004. These surveys provided the data for several Earth Institute scientists to take a closer look at these large-scale gas blowout features. In several presentations, scientists discuss new discoveries based on data collected during the July voyage, such as correlations between the blowouts, methane gas emissions, and marine life, and links between fluid expulsion and slope stability. Jeffrey Weissel, Doherty Senior Scholar, LDEO (845-365-8818,

Ocean Mixing In Undersea Canyons Near A Mid-Ocean Ridge

Ocean circulation depends on dense water sinking, balanced by more buoyant water rising elsewhere. The authors of this study discuss their finding that a large portion of this mixing occurs in underwater canyons as water flows across sills within the canyons. In previous studies it has been suggested that the enhanced mixing is primarily caused by breaking internal waves forced by tidal flows, but now it appears that sill-related mixing in canyons seems to be at least as important as tidal mixing. Andreas Thurnherr, Doherty Associate Research Scientist (845-365-8816,

Helium Isotopes and The Study of Ocean Circulation

Helium isotopes have been used to study global ocean circulation since the 1960’s, but new research has provided more detailed information on the distribution of helium isotopes, as well as their sources and sinks in the ocean. This information can now be applied to construct global fields of helium isotopes and to extract unique information on the circulation patterns at different depth levels in the ocean, as well as on local and regional processes such as ventilation of water masses in deep water formation regions. Additionally, the data sets are now sufficiently large to be useful for validation of Ocean General Circulation Models (OGCM’s). Peter Schlosser, Associate Director, The Earth Institute at Columbia University (212-854-0306,


Trying To Prevent Arsenic From Leaching Out Of Landfills

Two papers from Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory scientists examine how a landfill in Maine causes release of naturally-occurring arsenic from sediment into groundwater, and efforts to prevent this groundwater from seeping out of this landfill. When several methods of removing the arsenic failed, the researchers came up with another idea: sequestration of arsenic through the formation of solid phase sulfides under sulfate-reducing conditions. This technique was tested in the laboratory, with promising results. Over ten days, roughly 70 to 80% of the dissolved arsenic and more than 99% of the dissolved iron was removed from solution. The prospects are promising for preventing high arsenic groundwater plumes at this and similarly affected landfill sites. Alison Keimowitz, Graduate Research Fellow,, 845-365-8793

Arsenic Variation Over Time In Bangladesh Aquifers

A team of Earth Institute researchers has been looking at the geology of shallow aquifers in Bangladesh as part of a five-year study aimed at preventing people in rural Bangladesh from suffering as a result of ingesting arsenic in their well water. Tens of millions of people in South Asia are affected by this problem. The spatial variation of arsenic in the Bangladesh study area has been fairly well understood (it varies even within small areas), but the current study addresses variation from single sources over time. The study site consisted of six nests of monitoring wells installed in an area where the hydrology and geochemistry had been carefully studied The study shows that the wells studied did not display any discernable arsenic pattern linked to seasonal water table fluctuations. This suggests that once an aquifer is found to be safe for drinking, it will stay safe throughout the year. R.K. Dhar with Martin Stute, Adjunct Research Scientist, LDEO 845-365-8704.

Mary Tobin | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Receding glaciers in Bolivia leave communities at risk
20.10.2016 | European Geosciences Union

nachricht UM researchers study vast carbon residue of ocean life
19.10.2016 | University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>