Scripps in the News

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CASPO Seminar: "From Tower to Ocean: Gustav Eiffel, Meteorology and Problems of Data Visualization"

Prof. Katharine Anderson

York University 

Dramatic Climate Change-Driven Impacts Documented Across Marine Life Spectrum


Scripps News at 2010 AGU Fall Meeting

Droughts in the West
H12D-04 · Monday, Dec. 13, 11:05 a.m. · 3020 Moscone West
As the climate warms over the next several decades, the southwest U.S. could experience more severe dry spells according to a new climate study from a Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego research team.

Scripps scientist Dan Cayan and colleagues will present results from a study that investigated climate change effects on the hydrology of the southwest. The climate model study showed more intense and prolonged drought events for the U.S. southwest by the second half of the 21st century. The study exposes the risk of sustaining water supplies as snowpack disappears and soil dries in response to global warming.

The study reinforces previous investigations of climate-induced dryness in the 21st century to suggest that drought symptoms may be stronger in the interior southwest than in California. The researchers used improved hydrological characteristics of future dryness than previous drought projections studies have used in the past.

Seismic Hurricanes
NH13A-1142 · Monday, Dec. 13, 1:40 - 6:00 p.m. · Poster Hall, Moscone South
Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego used seismic data to compare two equally powerful hurricanes - Katrina and Ioke. The study reveals striking differences in how energy is dispersed from hurricanes and offers a new source of information to help understand how tropical storms spend their energy.

Hurricane Katrina as it approaches landfall near New Orleans on August 26, 2010. Photo: NOAA

Hurricane Katrina as it approaches landfall near New Orleans on August 26, 2010. Photo: NOAA
Using ocean bottom seismometer (OBS) sites in the Pacific, set up as part of the Hawaiian PLUME project, Scripps scientists Shi Sim and Gabi Laske analyzed the seismic signature of super typhoon Ioke, a category-five storm that made landfall over the Wake Islands on Aug. 31, 2006. Ioke was the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Central Pacific. The study compared Ioke's seismic signature with data collected nearly one year earlier in the Atlantic as Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana.

The team will present results that show that Katrina's seismic energy peaked as it made landfall as compared to hurricane Ioke, which built up as it developed in the open ocean and peaked long before making landfall. The researchers suggest that differences in ocean floor shape and the proximity to large landmasses, as well as the interference of hurricane-generated ocean waves, may have contributed to the storms' unique seismic signatures.

Creeping Faults
T14B-07 · Monday, Dec. 13, 5:30 p.m. · 2020 Moscone West
The slow creeping motion of seismic faults could hold the key to predicting earthquake patterns, according to a new study by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego postdoctoral scholar Yoshihiro Kaneko and colleagues at California Institute of Technology.

Kaneko will discuss a new earthquake simulation model developed by the research team that produced scenarios of earthquake rupture patterns and showed how a creeping section impedes rupturing and is often a permanent barrier to large earthquakes.

Kaneko simulation shows an earthquake rupture pattern as it passes through a 'creeping' fault section.

Kaneko simulation shows an earthquake rupture pattern as it passes through a 'creeping' fault section.
Many faults around the world, including California's most famous seismic landmark, the San Andreas Fault, have locked regions and sections that slowly and continuously creep. The plates at the central portion of the San Andreas Fault, from San Juan Bautista to Parkfield, Calif., are gradually moving past each other three centimeters per year and produce only minor quakes. The north and south sections are firmly locked in place and release stress in the form of large earthquakes.

In one of the simulations, an earthquake ruptures through both the two locked segments and a central creeping patch. A subsequent earthquake at the same site 29 years later starts at the same location but is stopped by the central creeping patch.

"This simulation illustrates that the central creeping patch creates a complexity for large earthquakes in the model, acting as an occasional barrier to earthquakes and causing clustering of large events," said Kaneko.

Deep Carbon Cycle
U21A-0005 · Tuesday, Dec. 14, 8:00 a.m. - 12:20 p.m. · Poster Hall, Moscone South
An unknown amount of carbon is trapped inside Earth and is occasionally released as CO2 by erupting volcanoes. By unlocking this mystery of the deep, scientists hope to understand the planet's global carbon cycle from surface to core.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego professor of geochemistry David Hilton will present results from isotope analysis of geothermal fluids collected in submarine seeps in Costa Rica and throughout Central America.

Scripps researchers descend Costa Rica's Poas volcano to collect water and fluid samples.

Scripps researchers descend Costa Rica's Poas volcano to collect water and fluid samples.
Using data derived from CO2 and helium isotopes, Hilton analyzes the earth's deep carbon budget. The study compares the carbon input from the Cocos tectonic plate, which is subducting into the earth's mantle beneath the Pacific Ocean, and the carbon output from volcanoes in Central America and submarine seeps along the seafloor.

Subduction zones, such as the Central America convergent margin, where tectonic plates collide and slip back inside Earth, provide an important pathway for input of carbon from Earth's external reservoirs - crust, sediments, oceans - to the mantle. This along with outputs from volcanoes comprises the deep carbon cycle.

"A significant amount of carbon is locked away in minerals in Earth's mantle and core," said Hilton.

Scientists are working to estimate crust- and mantle-derived and deep microbial carbon sources and sinks in order to better understand how they are linked to terrestrial carbon reservoirs and contribute to the global carbon cycle.

Cloudy Signals
A32A-03 · Wednesday, Dec. 15, 10:50 a.m. · 3002 Moscone West
Recent climate studies have shown a widening of the tropics during the past several decades results in a poleward shift of the jet stream and storm tracks. Joel Norris of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego is using data from observational research studies and climate models to determine if a corresponding shift in storm track cloudiness occurs.

Clouds in the tropical Pacific. Photo: NASA

Clouds in the tropical Pacific. Photo: NASA
Norris will discuss how this shift of strongly reflective clouds to higher latitudes could amplify man-made global warming by causing more solar radiation to be absorbed by the climate system.

The role of clouds in climate change has been a major question for decades. As the earth warms under increasing greenhouse gases, it is not known whether clouds will dissipate, letting in more of the sun's heat energy and making the earth warm even faster, or whether cloud cover will increase, blocking the sun's rays and actually slowing down global warming.

Norris compared the observed changes with those produced by 20th Century climate model simulations and found that the observed changes were larger than what most models predicted.

ICESat's Discoveries
U34A-02 · Wednesday, Dec. 15, 4:30 p.m. · 104 Moscone South
Helen Amanda Fricker, associate professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, will discuss NASA's Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation (ICESat) satellite mission, which recently completed a nearly seven-year scientific mission that began in 2003. The laser altimeter affixed to the ICESat satellite acquired surface elevations along repeated ground tracks providing scientists with a new tool to study ice sheet processes.

A subglacial lake in the western Antarctic detected by ICESat.

A subglacial lake in the western Antarctic detected by ICESat.
One of ICESat's most significant and unexpected discoveries was related to Antarctica's subglacial hydrology. In the Feb. 15, 2007 issue of the journal Science, Fricker and co-authors detailed a previously unknown region of subglacial lakes lying under two fast-flowing ice streams about one kilometer (3,280 feet) thick ice sheet. The study provided the first evidence that subglacial water is stored in a linked system of reservoirs underneath the ice and can move quickly into and out of those reservoirs.

The findings were made by precise repeated elevation measurements acquired by ICESat from 2003 to 2006 collected over the Whillans and Mercer ice streams in West Antarctica. The two ice streams are major feeders of ice to the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica's largest ice shelf covering an area of the ocean about the size of France with ice several hundred meters thick.

Alpine Icequakes
C43A-0519 · Thursday, Dec. 16, 1:40 - 6:00 p.m. · Poster Hall, Moscone South
A panoramic view of Alpine glaciers in Gornergletscher, Switzerland. Photo: Simo Räsänen

A panoramic view of Alpine glaciers in Gornergletscher, Switzerland. Photo: Simo Räsänen

Scientists are using seismometers to record icequake activity near glacier-dammed lakes in an effort to determine the connection between increased icequake activity and lake drainage events.

Debi Kilb, a seismologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, will discuss their findings from over 100,000 icequakes, events similar to earthquakes but in ice, that were recorded by seismometers installed at the glacier surface during three summers in Gornergletscher, Switzerland. The researchers recorded up to several thousand icequakes per day during each field season.

Scientists are interested in understanding whether icequakes yield a unique signal indicating when lake drainage will occur. Understanding interactions between lakes and quakes is important since these natural lake drainage events are difficult to predict and often pose a serious threat to human life and infrastructure near glaciated regions.

The study showed a significant increase in icequake productivity coincident during lake drainage events during two of the three seasons studied. However, the seismic data analysis did not reveal a warning signal that an upcoming drainage will occur.

Beach Pollutant Study
OS51B-1306 · Friday, Dec. 17, 8:00 a.m. - 12:20 p.m. · Poster Hall, Moscone South OS53D-03 · Friday, Dec. 17, 2:10 p.m. · 3007 Moscone West
Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego researchers Falk Feddersen, David Clark and Bob Guza have created new tools to estimate the transport and dilution of surf zone pollutants. The Scripps scientists will discuss results from the month-long 2006 Huntington Beach Nearshore experiment, or HB06, in a two-part oral and poster presentation.

A GPS-equipped Jet Ski was used during the 2006 Huntington Beach Nearshore Experiment.

A GPS-equipped Jet Ski was used during the 2006 Huntington Beach Nearshore Experiment.
Using buoys, moorings, a novel high-tech jet ski and non-toxic dye tracers, the researchers monitored dye plumes to better understand the physical processes involved in the transport and mixing in the surf zone. The study's results, which will be published in an upcoming issue of AGU's Journal of Geophysical Research, can help inform decisions on when and where to close beaches.

The new technique combines the regional wave network developed by Scripps' Coastal Data Information Program (CDIP) to provide predictions of offshore waves with a model describing how waves break across the surf zone and create currents that move surfzone pollutants.

The scientists are hoping to provide a more complete picture of how pollution moves and mixes in three dimensions: along the coast, offshore and vertically. This information is important to improve water quality forecasts and minimize beachgoers' exposure to health risks.


Monitoring deep-ocean temperatures using acoustic ambient noise

Photo of the Week: The Look of the Sound of the Sea

This week's photo is an artistic visualization of a beluga whale's call collected in the Arctic by graduate student Josh Jones of the Scripps Whale Acoustics Lab, led by John Hildebrand.

Georgia Tech mechanical engineering student Nick Evans (formerly of San Diego) created the image as an experiment in converting spectrograms into three-dimensional renderings. He has been posting interpretations of these and other audio recordings on his website, starting with snippets from Rick & Morty, a show on the Cartoon Network.

"Upon showing this to my roommate and artistic partner-in-crime Charlie, we started to talk about how different sound-landscapes could be created by changing the colormap of the surface and zooming in to 'explore' the physical landscape created by the spectrogram," Evans writes. "By doing this very basically with one sound file and default colormaps, and capturing the result we were able to create some amazing patterns and layouts."

The spectrogram of the whale's call was shared with Nick by a member of Simone Baumann-Pickering's Scripps Acoustic Ecology Laboratory, which analyzes a variety of marine sounds to study a variety of ecological, behavioral, and biological questions.

"Because sound is a cetacean's primary mode of communicating and interpreting their environment, visualizing the sounds that they make, along with other sounds in the ocean, can give us insights into how these animals behave," writes Fairlie Reese, a bioinformatics major who works in Baumann's lab.

Do you have images of or relating to research at Scripps Oceanography? Submit your suggestions to



Spiess Hall 330

Victor C. Anderson: 1922-2012

Victor C. Anderson, a research oceanographer at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, whose anonymous donation with his wife established the Victor Alderson Chair of Applied Ocean Science in 1982, died Nov. 3 at his San Diego home. He was 90.

Anderson's affiliation with Scripps extended more than 40 years. He joined Scripps as a student in 1947. His scientific research interests included acoustic signal processing, underwater acoustics and ocean engineering.

Anderson was born to missionary parents in Shanghai, China, on March 31, 1922. He enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles as a graduate student in physics in 1946. After a year in residence at UCLA, he joined the University of California's Marine Physical Laboratory (MPL) at Scripps. His research at MPL in the study of the deep scattering layer completed the requirements for a Ph.D., which he received in 1953.

The following year, Anderson was granted a postdoctoral fellowship at the Acoustics Research Laboratory at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. While at Harvard, he designed and developed a digital time compression technique (DELTIC) for application to acoustic signal processing.

Anderson returned to Scripps' MPL in 1955 and continued his research in the field of acoustical signal processing and ocean engineering. Topics of his research included the spatial and temporal distribution of acoustic ambient noise in the ocean and development of the remote underwater manipulator (RUM). In addition, he invented the digital multibeam steering system (DIMUS), a computationally efficient approach for preferentially listening in many directions at once. It is used in sonar systems on U.S. Navy ships and submarines. Anderson served as deputy director of MPL from 1976 until his retirement in 1989.

Anderson was the recipient of the National Security Industrial Association's 1986 Admiral Charles B. Martell Technical Excellence Award for his work in the development of the DIMUS system. He also received the Navy's 1976 Distinguished Public Service Award.

A fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, Anderson had also been a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and a member of the National Research Council Committee on Navy Publications.

Anderson and wife Anne established the Alderson Chair in 1982 with a $250,000 gift through her company, InterOcean Industries, Inc. The chair was named for Anne Anderson's grandfather, Victor Alderson, who was himself a noted scientist descended from the original Mayflower pilgrims. He served twice as president of the Colorado School of Mines during his career. Alderson settled in La Jolla after his retirement and lived there until his death in 1946.

The current holder of the Alderson Chair, Scripps Professor of Climate and Atmospheric Science Veerabhadran Ramanathan, credited the endowment established by Anderson with helping him launch many of the initiatives that have helped him to reveal the large contribution of what are known as short-lived climate forcers to global climate change. These forcers include soot and other forms of black carbon, methane and commonly used refrigerants. Action to control these types of global warming agents was advanced earlier this year by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who launched the international Climate and Clean Air Coalition in February.

"I am indebted to the Alderson chair for this long-standing support," he said.

A memorial service for Anderson is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 16, at Point Loma Community Presbyterian Church, 2128 Chatsworth Blvd., San Diego, Calif. 92107. The service will be held in the main sanctuary. A reception will follow in the Family Life Center. In lieu of flowers, the Anderson family asks that friends consider making a contribution in memory of Victor Anderson to a charity of their choice.