Research on Scripps Pier

Shore Stations Program

A network of shoreline measurement stations located throughout California. The pier is home to the first of these stations, located at the John McGowan Tide Room where volunteers take daily readings of seawater temperature and salinity at the surface and near the seafloor. Readings have been made at both incarnations of Scripps Pier by hand since 1916, creating one of the world’s longest continuous records of basic ocean conditions.

Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE) 

An AGAGE station on the pier collects data that feed into an international network of instruments capable of detecting gases to the level of parts per billion. The network monitors the atmosphere for gases with significant potential to accelerate global warming as well as gases produced in industrial processes, sometimes illegally.

Coastal Data Information Program (CDIP) 

CDIP operates a buoy off Scripps Pier as part of a national network that provides fundamental data on wave height, period, water temperature and other conditions used by vessel operators, harbormasters, and public safety officials. The network also has a large following among surfers.

Imaging FlowCytobot (IFCB)

IFCB is an in-situ automated submersible flow cytometer that generates images of particles taken from the aquatic environment. The IFCB uses a combination of flow cytometric and video technology to capture high resolution images of suspended particles. The optical and image data are then transmitted to shore in real time and assist in early detection of harmful algal blooms.

Images of suspended particles are processed to determine the volume and the species of the particle. Researchers use the information to create estimates of biovolume and carbon content per particle.

Long-range High-Frequency Radar 

Instruments mounted on the pier provide vital information on ocean currents that aids operations ranging from tracking of oil spills to locating people reported missing at sea. Scripps’ Coastal Ocean Research and Development Center operates the radar network as part of a research mission to understand air-sea interaction and wave physics.

NOAA Data Buoy Station LJAC1 

The pier hosts a station operated by NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center. The station records data such as wind speeds, gusts, atmospheric pressure, and air temperature. It contributes to a suite of meteorological data used by the National Weather Service and other agencies requiring weather forecast capabilities.

SCCOOS Automated Shore Station (SASS)

Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System Automated Shore Station Program is an integrated network that has provided critical long-term measurements since 2005 in support of ocean health and coastal ocean water quality in real-time for use by coastal managers, agencies, researchers, and the general public. These automated shore stations consist of a suite of sensors that are attached to piers in four locations in the Southern California Bight. They measure temperature, salinity, chlorophyll, pH, oxygen, and water level at frequent intervals in the nearshore coastal ocean.

Scripps CO2 Program 

Instruments at the end of the pier collect air samples from which levels of the prevalent greenhouse gas carbon dioxide are measured. The pier station supplements the famous Keeling Curve measurement series of CO2 obtained atop Hawaii’s Mauna Loa. 

Scripps O2 Program 

Scripps researchers collect data on atmospheric oxygen levels at the pier as part of a complementary program to Scripps CO2. This sampling network provides a global and hemispheric perspective on oxygen variability. It has found over time that fossil fuel use has led to a gradual lowering of oxygen concentrations.

Scripps Ecological Observatory 

A curated set of critical ecosystem measurements is collected by different research groups and projects using the pier. Plotted datasets are provided by the lab of biological oceanographer Jeff Bowman.

Scripps Ocean Acidification Real-time (SOAR) Monitoring Program

 Instruments on the pier measure long-term, high-resolution variability in pH and temperature in coastal La Jolla waters. Changes in ocean pH and in the quantities of compounds that help marine organisms build shells and skeletons have effects on ecosystems scientists are attempting to understand. The monitoring program is one of the only continuous coastal ocean acidification monitoring sites on the West Coast.

Scientific Diving Program

This program trains and supports scientists, students, technicians, and volunteers in the use of underwater techniques and technology necessary to safely conduct their research in underwater environments. Scripps Oceanography pioneered diving as a research tool in the 1950s and developed the research diving standards that are used around the world.

Small Boating Program 

The pier is equipped with a crane used to raise and lower small boats for dive training, nearshore specimen collection and other purposes. The Small Boating Program oversees the use of these and other vessels up to 65’ in length.