About MPL

R/P FLIP partially submerged in the Pacific Ocean
FLIP, the Floating Instrument Platform, deployed at sea.

The Marine Physical Laboratory (MPL) is an organized research unit serving an integral part of the academic environment of Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the University of California, San Diego by playing an important role in the sponsorship and supervision of graduate student research in areas of ocean sciences and technology. 

Originally established as a Navy-oriented research laboratory in 1946, MPL has maintained a strong multidisciplinary research program consisting entirely of sponsored projects, with a large sponsorship from the Department of Defense (DOD) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) in addition to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),  National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), other federal agencies, universities, non-profits, and state agencies. 

Exploratory and technology based research and development appropriate to these programs are conducted at the laboratory, as well as the development of unique underwater sensor systems designed to meet specific research applications.

As a Navy-funded academic laboratory, MPL has a dual mission:

  • To investigate and apply knowledge about the ocean, its boundaries and the surrounding media to the solution of the Navy's problems in undersea warfare and ocean technology; and
  • To provide research training of students in areas of oceanography and ocean technology which have application to Navy requirements.

The Laboratory consists of individual research groups headed by Principal Investigators with a common interest in Observational Ocean Science with emphasis on developing state of the art instrumentation for studying ocean acoustic and seismic propagation, air-sea interaction, ocean volume dynamics and ocean bottom geophysics. A common business office and industrial research and development machine shop support the MPL research groups.  

MPL’s Principal Investigators are UC San Diego research and faculty members, some holding joint appointments outside Scripps Institution of Oceanography. This results in a strong academic link enabling graduate students to benefit from the multi-disciplinary resources of the university and provides an environment to address real-world research issues. In addition to research and teaching activities, MPL academics participate in the long-range planning of special interest to the Navy and other government agency research programs, the research community of UC San Diego and other public service activities.

MPL manages the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS) grant funding for Scripps Institution of Oceanography. SCCOOS, a multi institutional consortium of 11 institutions, is a science-based decision support system that works interactively with local, state and federal agencies, resource managers, industry, policy makers, educators, scientists, and the general public to provide data, models, and products that advance our understanding of the current and future state of our coastal and global environment.

MPL also manages the Cooperative Institute for Marine Ecosystems and Climate (CIMEC), a partnership between the NOAA and several key universities in California. CIMEC administration includes the performance of all business and financial operations: management of funds exceeding $20 million annually, analysis, reports, correspondence, goals and objectives, development of administrative policies and procedures, and contact with NOAA Cooperative Institute Programs, Grants Management Division, and numerous SIO Divisions.