Scripps in the News

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The Deep Carbon Observatory
May 26, 2016
Earth’s atmosphere has changed considerably over the last several billion years. Many changes are aligned with monumental milestones in our planet’s past, such as the great oxidation event 2.5 billion years ago. With the onset of plate tectonics, surface elements began cycling into deep Earth via subduction and out again at volcanoes, gradually changing the atmosphere and the planet’s interior. Gaseous nitrogen constitutes 78% of today’s atmosphere, but that was not always the case. The nitrogen concentration in Earth’s atmosphere has gradually declined, and a new reference model from DCO collaborators Peter Barry (University of Oxford, UK) and David Hilton (Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA) explains how [1].

The San Diego Union-Tribune
May 25, 2016
An American torpedo bomber lost during World War II has been found off the Pacific nation of Palau by researchers from UC San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Los Angeles Times
May 25, 2016
Saltwater Brewery, along with New York City-based ad agency We Believers, developed edible six-pack rings made of the wheat and barley remnants left over from making beer. We Believers co-founders Marco Vega and Gustavo Lauria were working on a production shoot. After the crew ate lunch, Lauria looked around and realized how much plastic trash they'd managed to produce from a single meal. Just two months after that fateful, wasteful lunch, they manufactured 500 working prototypes using a 3-D printer and produced and published a video showing off their creation. The video alleges that "most of the plastic six-pack rings used end up in the ocean." That's not entirely true, but the biodegradable rings are still a good idea, according to Jennifer Brandon, a graduate student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego who wrote her Ph.D. thesis on marine debris.

Vice News
May 24, 2016
As we drive down the empty, two-lane highway, the clusters of seaside resorts, tin-roofed homes and finely manicured lawns on this Papua New Guinea island give way to lowland rain forests and palm oil plantations. Nautilus, an exploration mining company headquartered in Toronto, has come to these villages along the coast to pitch a simple but controversial message: We can make your lives better if you let us mine the seafloor. "I think slowing down is an excellent idea," said Lisa Levin, who is with Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and who co-founded the Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative, which among other things advises on the use of resources in the deep ocean. "We should be slowing down and collecting relevant information that is needed to make a decision. In most cases, I don't think we have it. If a moratorium is a way to slow down, that works."

Society for Science & the Public: Science News for Students
May 24, 2016
In hunting down lunch, Flipper may have a secret weapon: snot. Dolphins employ the animal equivalent of sonar to find and track their prey. To do this, they emit a series of quick, high-frequency sounds. Biologists suspect the marine mammals make these chirp-like clicks by forcing air over tissues in their nasal passages. “It’s kind of like making a raspberry,” explains Aaron Thode. He studies marine-mammal sounds — acoustics — at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. Thode and his team tweaked a technique used to model human speech so that they could mimic dolphin sounds in the lab using a computer. They were looking to explore how these small whales go about their unique way of making sound. And nasal mucus — snot — now appears key, their data show.

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 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.

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.”

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.