Scripps in the News

Search print, web, television, and radio press clips about Scripps Institution of Oceanography research and people.
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Star Tribune
Dec 12, 2014

Researchers have re-created a split-second impact of a meteor with primordial Earth, and shown how the 3.5-megaton collision might have reorganized common molecules into some of the early building blocks that led to all life. The researchers zapped clay and a chemical soup with the laser to simulate the energy of a speeding asteroid smashing into the planet. They ended up creating what can be considered crucial pieces of the building blocks of life. “There is no known geochemically feasible process for the generation of pure formamide in a plausible primitive Earth environment,” said Jeffrey Bada, a chemist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.

Los Angeles Times
Dec 12, 2014

Overall rainfall amounts in the Los Angeles region will remain the same in coming decades, according to a new study that examined the effects of a warming climate on Southern California precipitation. The third in a series of UCLA studies on the impact of climate change on Los Angeles, the report is good news for the city's efforts to develop more local water supplies. Dan Cayan, director of the California Climate Change Center at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, said there may be more dry days, with precipitation falling during a shorter rainy season with bigger storms. “So I don’t think the story is quite as simple as saying no change, no worries,” said Cayan, who is familiar with the UCLA work but did not participate in the study.

Dec 11, 2014

As city streets flood and power lines go down, don’t blame El Niño. The epic storm that hit California early Thursday morning is caused by a water vapor filled low-pressure system called an atmospheric river. Long and narrow, it carries ten Mississippi Rivers’ worth of water. Originating near Hawaii, this ‘Pineapple Express’ brings atmospheric moisture up to the West Coast. As it condenses, water vapor in the river falls as rain – or snow – at higher elevations. With 80 percent of California in an extreme drought, the deluge could bring some areas back to their average annual rainfall totals, according to Marty Ralph, a meteorologist with Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

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.

U-T San Diego
Dec 11, 2014

In an announcement better suited to Halloween than the upcoming Christmas season, a Scripps Oceanography researcher published new findings on bone worms, bizarre deep sea creatures that devour whale carcasses. Researchers originally observed that the worms matured only in female form, with males living in a larval state within the females’ bodies. Their latest discovery, published in the December issue of Current Biology, showed that males of a newly discovered species grow to the same size as females, and go to great lengths to mate. “This worm was weird enough as it was and now it’s even weirder,” study author Greg Rouse, a marine biologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, said in a statement. “This shows us that there continue to be mysteries in the sea and there is still so much more to discover.”

Scientific American
Dec 11, 2014

What is this thing? How rare is it? And how big of a threat could it be? Here are some answers. And see our graphics, below, taken from a brilliant and prescient feature article written by Michael Dettinger and Lynn Ingram in Scientific American in January 2013.

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.