Scripps in the News

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CBS News
Dec 11, 2014

More than 5 trillion pieces of plastic are polluting the oceans, according to a new study, wreaking havoc on marine life which often gets entangled in fishing lines or ingests these toxic substances. The study in PLOS One Wednesday is the first to try to put a number on plastic bits of all sizes - a growing number that many scientists see as a major problem in the oceans. Jennifer Brandon, a graduate student who researches micro-plastics at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, and didn't take part in the study, said the estimates "were pretty reasonable" but she cautioned it was far from exact because the researchers depended on models.

NBC News
Dec 11, 2014

The Southern San Andreas fault may not be as dangerous as previously thought — at least for the towns and cities directly to the west of it. New three-dimensional modeling shows that instead of being oriented straight up and down, the fault, which runs roughly northwesterly through the Coachella Valley, dips 60-70 degrees to the northeast, according to a study published in Geosphere. Frank Vernon, a research seismologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, agrees that a dipped orientation probably won't make much difference to Los Angeles. The effects of the dip would most likely only be felt locally, he said.

Dec 10, 2014

A new Center at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego has established a regional effort on atmospheric rivers and other types of extreme weather and water events in the Western U.S. The Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes (CW3E) is developing an “AR Portal” with partners across the nation, including NOAA, California Department of Water Resources, Plymouth State University, and the USGS. The portal brings together advances in AR science, monitoring and prediction, and builds heavily on data from the new AR monitoring network installed across California, and takes unique advantage of existing USGS, NOAA and other monitoring and prediction systems by developing tools tailored to the AR phenomenon.

Dec 09, 2014

Written by Sarah Gille of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. Warming of the water that flows under Antarctic iceshelves iskey to their melting. Nobody lives permanently in Antarctica. At first glance, studies of Antarctic climate might thus seem like a curiosity without obvious societal implications. Yet, if the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet were to melt, global sea level would rise by 4.8 m, with major effects on coastal populations. Two studies published earlier this year offered convincing evidence that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is indeed melting irrevocably. What are the processes behind this melting?

Chemistry World
Dec 08, 2014

Scientists in the Czech Republic and US have shown how asteroid collisions with early Earth could have sparked reactions that produced the basic chemical building blocks of life four billion years ago. The team used lasers to simulate the plasma produced by asteroid impacts on prebiotic Earth and found that this led to a cascade of reactions that formed RNA and DNA nucleobases from formamide. Jeffrey Bada, who investigates the chemical origins of life at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, has further reservations. ‘Although the simulations carried out in this paper are interesting from a straight chemical synthesis point of view, the relevance of this to the prebiotic chemistry of the early Earth is questionable,’ he says.

Climate Central
Dec 07, 2014

In January 1997, climate researcher David Pierce was looking at a map superimposed with projected ocean temperatures, and pink was a representation of anomalous warmth in the Pacific. The map told Pierce that according to the climate model developed by him and his colleagues at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, huge swaths of the southern Pacific were about to heat up.

NSF Science 360
Dec 05, 2014

Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at University of California, San Diego succeeded in creating the largest phytoplankton bloom in a wave flume in history as part of a groundbreaking experiment to understand the effects of natural particles on the atmosphere.
Dec 04, 2014

The ice that lines West Antarctica’s shores is melting at an alarming rate, and the culprit is not hotter air but a one-two punch of warmer deep-water flows and winds that drive them beneath the ice shelves. Currently, winds appear to be sheltering the Weddell and Ross seas from the Circumpolar Deep Water melting, notes Sarah Gille of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, in an article accompanying the Science study. However, she warns, “future changes in the winds could modify that, and thus alter the ice-shelf buttresses, with further effects on global sea level rise.” That could be very bad news for the millions of people living along the world’s shorelines.

NBC News
Dec 04, 2014

A new study indicates that it takes a mere 10 years for carbon dioxide emissions to produce their maximum warming effects on the Earth. The results showed that the median time between a single carbon dioxide emission and maximum warming was 10.1 years and that the resulting warming could last over a century. The findings give the issue "a new sense of urgency," said Ralph Keeling, a professor of geochemistry at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. "The main finding is that it only takes 10 years to get maximum effect and while that makes sense nobody had put it in those terms before."

Victorville Daily Press
Dec 01, 2014

Despite differences in opinion over climate change, one hydrologist believes decisions have to be made now to deal with dwindling water flow in the Mojave River and its affects on groundwater supplies. “The Mojave River in Barstow, it can be 20 years with no significant flow in that river,” Dr. John A. Izbicki said during a climate change workshop held by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board recently at the Hampton Inn in Lenwood. Izbicki is a scientist with the United States Geological Survey. Dan Cayan from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and the USGS gave a presentation on climate variability change and California water.  “If you twist my arm, I would say we are about to get drier,” said Cayan. “The models differ on how much drier.”