Scripps in the News

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Propublicia
May 20, 2016
This story was co-published with The New York Times. Wedged between Arizona and Utah, less than 20 miles up river from the Grand Canyon, a soaring concrete wall nearly the height of two football fields blocks the flow of the Colorado River. There, at Glen Canyon Dam, the river is turned back on itself, drowning more than 200 miles of plasma-red gorges and replacing the Colorado’s free-spirited rapids with an immense lake of flat, still water called Lake Powell, the nation’s second largest reserve. Decommissioning Glen Canyon Dam, however, could offer a solution that politicians cannot afford to ignore — a cheap, immediate, and significant new source of water where it is most desperately needed. The argument has logical weight because both reservoirs have been struggling to remain half full, and may not ever refill. Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego gave Lake Mead a 50 percent chance of running dry by 2021.

Associated Press
May 19, 2016
The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air jumped by the biggest amount on record last month, a rise amplified by El Nino, scientists say. Carbon dioxide levels increased by 4.16 parts per million in April compared to a year earlier, according to readings at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. Until this year, the biggest increase was 3.7 ppm. Records go back to 1950. "The El Nino boost is on top of the large emissions from fossil fuels which continue at a high level," said Ralph Keeling, who directs the carbon dioxide program at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

The New York Times
May 17, 2016
A pre-eminent scientist in the field of rising global sea levels has been given notice of his dismissal as part of deep cuts at Australia’s national science agency that will reduce the country’s role in global climate research. The scientist, John Church, confirmed Tuesday that he was one of 275 scientists that the agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, or Csiro, said would be laid off. Another scientist, Dean Roemmich, a professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, said: “To me it is absolutely inconceivable that the Csiro would imagine ditching such a pre-eminent scientist in a field that is so vital to Australia’s interests. We have so little idea how rapidly the climate and sea level are going to change in the coming decades. It is absolutely crazy to be taking anything away from that focus.”

The Washington Post
May 17, 2016
Waves of the dead or dying tuna crabs have been found carpeting the sand at various San Diego and Orange County spots, including Imperial, Huntington and Newport beaches, since the middle of last week. Unlike most crabs, they mostly spend their lives grazing on phytoplankton as they swim freely in open water rather than crawling along the sea floor, though larger adults will make trips to the bottom, according to Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. Because they live in the water column, the crabs drift with the winds, tides and currents. Linsey Sala, a Scripps scientist, said the tuna crab appear to have established a longer-term population of the crustaceans that may linger in the waters off Southern California for a number of years.

Reuters
May 16, 2016
Masses of tiny red crustaceans known as tuna crabs have washed up for a second straight year along stretches of the Southern California coast in a phenomenon marine scientists say is linked to a rise in ocean temperatures. Waves of the dead or dying tuna crabs have been found carpeting the shoreline at various Orange County spots, including Huntington Beach and Newport Beach south of Los Angeles, since the middle of last week. Also known as pelagic red crabs, the bright salmon-colored creatures resemble small lobsters or crayfish, measuring 1 to 3 inches (2.5-7.6 cm) in length. Unlike most crabs, they largely spend their lives grazing on phytoplankton as they swim freely in open water rather than crawling along the sea floor, though larger adults will make excursions to the bottom, according to Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. Because they live in the water column, the crabs drift with the winds, tides and currents.

Discovery News
May 16, 2016
Just three years ago this month, the carbon dioxide monitoring station atop Hawaii’s Mauna Loa reached a significant milestone: the first measurement of CO2 concentrations that exceeded the benchmark of 400 parts per million (ppm). Now, they may never again dip below it. “I think we’re essentially over for good,” Ralph Keeling, the director of the Mauna Loa CO2 program at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, said. And before too long, that will be the case the world over. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are monitored at stations around the world, providing records of the mark humans are leaving on the planet. Keeling’s father, Charles Keeling, began the recordings at Mauna Loa in 1958, revealing not only the annual wiggles created by the seasonal growth and death of vegetation, but the steady rise in CO2 from year to year.

Ensia
May 12, 2016
Many other water managers are now looking closely at forecast-informed reservoir operations, or FIRO, as a tool to stretch their water supplies. Amid pressures from climate change, population growth and environmental stress, advances in weather forecasting could be a cheap and effective way to keep vital reservoirs full while also boosting flood protection. Meanwhile, at the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, researchers are developing new prediction tools for so-called “atmospheric river” storms, which can deliver as much as 50 percent of an entire year’s rainfall in a few days. It was such a storm that brought record rain and flooding to parts of Louisiana in March.

Climate Central
May 12, 2016
With carbon dioxide pollution dissolving into water bodies, causing them to acidify, laboratory experiments showed silversides in the sprawling Chesapeake Bay will find it harder to breathe in low-oxygen conditions. The findings have sweeping global implications. Lisa Levin, a Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego professor who wasn’t involved with the study, described the experiments as “elegant.” She said they pointed to how the dual climate change stresses of ocean acidification and deoxygenation are working together to reduce fish habitat. (Rising water temperatures caused by climate change also pose dangers.)

The Antarctic Sun
May 12, 2016
The cluster of white shipping containers perched atop the hill near McMurdo Station may well represent the densest collection of weather monitors Antarctica has ever seen. The structures are covered in a multitude of scientific instruments and sensors on the outside. Inside, every available cubic inch is packed with measurement devices and computers processing the prodigious amount of information being collected. “This kind of instrumentation has never been sent to Antarctica before,” said Dan Lubin, a research physicist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and principal investigator on the project known as AWARE. “There’s never been this concentration of instruments providing a synergy for atmospheric science.” AWARE, the ARM West Antarctic Radiation Experiment (AWARE) is a part of the Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program (ARM).