Scripps Ocean Atmosphere Research Simulator


Scripps Ocean-Atmosphere Research Simulator (SOARS) is designed to enhance our understanding of the complicated chemical, biological, and physical processes that occur at the boundary between the ocean and the atmosphere.

The instrument combines a wave tank with a wind tunnel along a 36-meter-long channel built into the Hydraulics Lab of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. With a wave generator, blowers, light tubes, and heating and cooling systems — and Pacific Ocean seawater from nearby Scripps Pier — the instrument can emulate ocean surface conditions ranging from the tropics to the poles, making it uniquely capable of simulating Earth's rapidly changing ocean-atmosphere system. 

The system includes mechanisms for introducing biological and chemical components, and has a sealed headspace for studying sea spray and integrated, temperature-controlled smog chamber for studying sea spray aerosols. Two viewing rooms alongside the channel allow direct observation by researchers and spectators.

SOARS research will focus on the critical role the marine atmosphere boundary layer (MABL) plays in weather, atmospheric chemistry, climate change, human health and the oceans, national security interests, and offshore civil engineering. By bringing the ocean ashore, it will enable interdisciplinary teams of scientists to collaborate on quantifying ocean-atmosphere exchange and reaction processes and serve as a test bed for instruments ahead of ocean deployment.

SOARS will also serve as an educational tool, providing cross-training in multiple systems for incipient, interdisciplinary students and scientists to better understand and protect our planet. The system will facilitate classical fluid dynamical and engineering studies, as well as STEM education through practical demonstrations for UC San Diego classes on fluid mechanics.

The $4 million system was collaboratively funded by the National Science Foundation and UC San Diego. NSF provided $2.8 million through its Major Research Instrumentation program, Grant Number OCE-1727039.



Max cold temperature -20 C for air at 10 mph, 1 C for water via chillers. The cold air will freeze it.
Max high temperature 30 C on both air and water.
Max wind 60 mph
Max wave height 1.2 m
Max water capacity 36,000 gallons
Length 120 feet
Height 18 feet from ground level. Wave channel is 8 feet deep.
Width 18 feet. Wave channel is 8 feet wide.
Solar tubes 6