Scripps in the News

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Dec 01, 2015
A team from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego is in Paris attending the 21st United Nations Conference on Climate Change. They are there to educate conference delegates, who are working on an international climate treaty, on the role the ocean plays in climate change. "The Kyoto Protocol, the biggest environmental treaty that was signed globally about climate change doesn't have the word ocean in it," said Yassir Eddebbar, a graduate student in oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography who leaves for Paris Wednesday. When world leaders decide on climate change goals — like reducing carbon emissions — the role of the ocean needs to be taken into consideration, Eddebbar said.

Dec 01, 2015
In early December, the drill ship JOIDES Resolution will depart Colombo, Sri Lanka, and head for a spot in the southwestern Indian Ocean known as Atlantis Bank. There, it will lower a drill bit and try to screw it through 1.5 kilometres of rock, collecting a core sample as it goes. If all goes well, future expeditions — not yet scheduled or funded — will return and finalize the push into the mantle. Scientists first tried to reach the Moho in the middle of the twentieth century. In the 1960s, US scientists led ‘Project Mohole’, which drilled into the sea floor off Guadalupe Island, Mexico. The project reached a depth of just 183 metres before costs ballooned and Congress killed it. “We live on this Earth and we ought to know something about what happens beneath us,” says Walter Munk, an oceanographer at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, who conceived Project Mohole with colleagues over cocktails one evening in 1957.

Nov 30, 2015
As world leaders converge on Paris Monday to begin a much-anticipated round of climate change talks, it will be only the 21st session of the conference of the parties to the U.N.’s climate-change framework treaty. But the world has worried about climate change and its effects for far longer. The hole in the ozone layer brought the issue into focus for many non-experts in the 1980s, but scientists have been aware that the Earth’s climate is changing—and that human actions can affect that change—for over a century. It was around that time [1950s] that Roger Revelle of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego made a discovery: according to his research, human activity was adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than nature could handle.

The San Diego Union-Tribune
Nov 29, 2015
Scientists and students from UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography are in Paris for the United Nations’ 21st climate change conference with a message about the planet’s oceans: Efforts to address climate change have taken marine ecosystems for granted. “The oceans are a huge factor in climate,” said Scripps director Margaret Leinen, who is part of the contingent attending the convention, which will start Monday and run until Dec. 11. “For our (summit’s accord) negotiations not to even mention warming of the oceans is very troubling.”

Nov 27, 2015
This week may have brought rain and snow to San Diego County. But precipitation levels across the state have been fairly average so far this wet season, according to the latest update from the KPBS Drought Tracker. Storms did bring snow to Sierra ski resorts this past week, totaling over a foot in some areas. But Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego climate researcher Sam Iacobellis said recent snowfall hasn't been too significant. "It increased a bit, but I wouldn't characterize it as major snowfall like we're hoping for," said Iacobellis.

The Atlantic
Nov 24, 2015
Two Wednesdays ago, we sailed past a carbon milestone of perhaps geological scale. With CO2 levels above 400 ppm, atmospheric carbon in our era is now higher than it’s been in at least one million years—and perhaps in 25 million years. One of the world’s most respected climatologists now says that November 11 could be the last day of our lifetimes in which atmospheric carbon stays below 400 parts per million. That climatologist is Ralph Keeling. Keeling is a professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, and he directs the program which oversees the Mauna Loa readings.

Nov 23, 2015
It’s a noisy, rocky ride. I’m flying through the thick of a rainstorm on a research plane operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It’s crewed by a group of pilots and technicians known as the NOAA “Hurricane Hunters.” Their specialty is flying into the thick of storms, so they can relay data to weather forecasters. At the moment, researchers have a much better understanding of hurricanes—the most powerful, important storms of the East and South—than they do of the West’s most important storms, known as “atmospheric rivers.” The problem is, our forecasting of these storms isn’t very good. “It’s just a very hard thing to get right,” says Marty Ralph, a research meteorologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and one of the CalWater scientists. “On average the heavy rainfall events are predicted to be about half as strong as they actually end up being.”

Nov 22, 2015
For longline sable fishers in the Gulf of Alaska, there are few omens of doom more chilling than the enormous shadow of a whale approaching their boat. That’s because in the past several years, male sperm whales, the lone wolves of the ocean, have been behaving strangely. They have been teaming up to hunt fish right off fishers’ hooks, and every year more whales are coming to eat from the fishing line buffet, leading some scientists to speculate that they’re somehow communicating about the richness of the hunting ground and sharing tips. How do they recognize this thing that’s become the dinner bell?” asks Russ Andrews, a marine biologist with SEASWAP. To answer the question, Aaron Thode, a marine mammal acoustic specialist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, set up passive listening devices on moorings to see if the whales or the boats were making unique noises when the lines were reeled in. What they discovered was that the sound of the bubbles created by the revving of the propellers as the boat sped up and slowed down during the line-reeling process was calling the whales.

Los Angeles Times
Nov 22, 2015
Although many Californians hope forecasts of a "Godzilla" El Niño will deliver drought-busting rains this winter, mention of the mysterious climate phenomenon inspires dread in much of the world. Periodic warming of the Pacific Ocean has occurred for thousands of years, but only recently have scientists come to appreciate its global reach, or even recognize its telltale signs. In its simplest sense, El Niño's effects are like placing a large stone in a shallow river, according to David Pierce, a climate researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. "It causes ripples that run far downstream," he said.

The San Diego Union-Tribune
Nov 20, 2015
It’s not just El Niño coming to town. That was the theme of a public discussion hosted this week by UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, with in-house researchers and guest speakers from organizations such as the National Weather Service. Scientists have warned that one of the most powerful El Niño systems in recorded history could pummel Southern California well into the spring. "It’s been a strange two years, a very strange two years,” said Dan Rudnick, an oceanographer at Scripps. “This El Niño is happening on top of the strange stuff we’ve had since 2014.”