Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory has been on the vanguard of understanding Earth and its changes since our inception in 1949, when Maurice “Doc” Ewing launched this extraordinary research center. Here, Marie Tharp created the first global maps of the seafloor, stunning her contemporaries with the discovery of the mid ocean ridges and their crestal rift zones, evidence for sea-floor spreading and continental drift . Her finding was but one in a long, celebrated list of discoveries by Observatory scientists.
Lamont scientists were the first to show the role of the global ocean in climate, first to predict El Niño climate events, first to develop the seismological tools that enabled nuclear test bans, and first to design multiple generations of seismometers for deployment in global networks on Earth and on the Moon by Apollo astronauts. The Observatory serves as scientific home to the largest concentration of Earth and climate scientists in the academic U.S. Our researchers study the planet from its deepest interior to the outer reaches of its atmosphere, on every continent and in every ocean, providing a rational basis for addressing many of the difficult challenges facing humanity. Three foundational strengths drive our interdisciplinary approach: climate science, geodynamics of the solid Earth, and the study of life on our evolving planet.
This year, Lamont continued to add to its distinguished legacy with discoveries that challenge complacency and alter perceptions of the world as it was, is, and will be. We titled this report “Science on the Front Lines of Our Changing Planet” because many of our scientists answered the call to join the front lines of extreme events and environmental shifts, enabling investigative opportunities that offered particular promise for advances in understanding.
Across the Observatory, Lamont’s women and men of science strive daily to sharpen our knowledge of the interlinked processes that govern the myriad changes to our world and our environment. It is within this context of exploration, discovery, and scientific leadership that we present our annual report for 2018.