Scripps in the News

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The Washington Post
Mar 09, 2016
A serious flood event is unfolding over the south central U.S., fed by an exceptional storm system producing snow over Mexico as well as a record March heat wave in the East. An atmospheric firehose has formed at the confluence of these two extreme weather systems and is aimed straight for the zone from east Texas to central Louisiana and then northward through Arkansas into southern Illinois. Meteorologists call this kind of narrow, intense stream of moisture an “atmospheric river”. These rivers are most common in the Pacific and bring California the bulk of its winter rain. Photo: Martin Ralph, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego

The Washington Post
Mar 09, 2016
Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have spiked more in the period from February 2015 to February 2016 than in any other comparable period dating back to 1959, according to a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Laboratory. The change in average concentrations from February of last year to February of this year was 3.76 parts per million at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, leaving the concentration at 404.02 parts per million for February, based on preliminary data. However, there also appears to be a role for the El Nino phenomenon. “CO2 tends to rise much faster during and just following El Niño events,” wrote Ralph Keeling, director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography carbon dioxide program at UC San Diego and son of Charles David Keeling (after whom the iconic graph of rising greenhouse gas concentrations is named), last October. At the time, Keeling forecast that because of the current El Nino event, we would probably never see CO2 levels decline below 400 again “in our lifetimes.”

The New York Times
Mar 07, 2016
Blue Latitudes, an organization founded in 2014 by two young scientists with degrees from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, is trying to increase awareness of the value of rigs as permanent homes for sea life.

The San Diego Union-Tribune
Mar 05, 2016
Cloud-seeding has a bit of a hocus-pocus reputation, but the science behind it has long been established. Los Angeles County, which had seeding operations off and on from the 1950s until 2002, is trying to get back in the game this winter. “In the scientific community, there isn’t a lot of support for spending money on seeding,” said Lynn Russell, a professor of atmospheric chemistry at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego in La Jolla who studies how aerosols interact with clouds. “Most of the time, it doesn’t work, or the probability of it working is very low.”

The San Diego Union-Tribune
Mar 01, 2016
Margaret Leinen, the director of UC San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography, will serve as a special science adviser to Latin America, East Asia and the Pacific at the request of the U.S. State Department.

New Scientist
Feb 29, 2016
Call it a whalegorithm. A computer has learned to suss out the different dialects of long-finned pilot whales. The approach is a step towards unlocking the secrets of how whales communicate with one another. Researchers at the Ocean Sounds conservation group collected recordings of six groups of long-finned pilot whales along the Norwegian coast. After running their algorithm on the recordings, Hallerberg’s team could prove that each family had its own distinct dialect. John Hildebrand at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego says the approach makes sense for pilot whales, which communicate with “burst pulse” calls. But he’s not sure that it would work as well for other toothed whale vocalisations such as echolocation clicks and whistles.

The San Diego Union-Tribune
Feb 28, 2016
John Holdren, President Obama's chief science advisor, said during a visit to San Diego Monday that the public shouldn't lose faith in the government's El Nino forecasts even though the current one may turn out to be mostly wrong for Southern California. Holden spoke at UC San Diego on the final day of the warmest February on record in San Diego. The National Weather Service says that preliminary results show that the average February temperature at Lindbergh Field was 64.0 degrees, or about a half-degree warmer than the record set in February 1980. The temperature records date back to 1874. Holden said he's not surprised that the matter hasn't been fully ironed out. "First of all, nature is still complicated in ways that we have not completely fathomed," Holdren said. "Science is imperfect. The dynamics of the ocean are particularly complex. I was just at Scripps Institution of Oceanography ... One of the things every scientist will tell you is that, while we know a lot, we don't know everything.”

Feb 26, 2016
The idea that mere turbulence can power the ocean owes much to oceanographer Walter Munk. Currents flowing through the deep ocean often start with cold, dense water sinking at high latitudes. But that water has to rise and warm to stimulate circulation. What caused this upwelling was a mystery.

Scientific American
Feb 25, 2016
Scientists have provided the first experimental evidence that rising carbon dioxide emissions are harming coral reefs in the wild. David Kline, a marine ecologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego in La Jolla, California, says the results offer hope that cutting emissions would aid reefs. “This is a ray of light showing that if we actually do something politically about climate change, the reefs can respond,” he says.
Feb 25, 2016
Every day, some of the world’s deepest oceans buzz with a strange sound as massive communities of fish, squid, and shrimp travel up and down from the depths in search of food. Now, researchers have recorded the low-frequency sound, which they believe may be a way for these animals to tell each other that it’s dinnertime. Scientists have long known that marine mammals like dolphins and whales use sounds to communicate underwater, but according to researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, this could be the first evidence of smaller ocean-dwelling animals doing the same thing, Stephen Feller reports for United Press International. “[I]t sounds like a buzzing or humming, and that goes on for an hour to two hours, depending on the day,” Scripps research biologist Simone Baumann-Pickering said in a statement.