Category Archives: Oceanography

Observing the Ocean

From beachgoers to surfers to fishermen of all sorts to cargo ships to beachfront communities and municipal wastewater managers, we all need and use information about our local ocean waters. But where does it all come from?

The Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS) – part of the national U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) – works to collect, integrate and deliver coastal and ocean observations in order to improve safety, enhance the economy, and protect the environment. SCCOOS serves a diverse stakeholder community of managers and planners, operational decision-makers, scientists, and the general public.

Join SCCOOS Executive Director Clarissa Anderson as she describes how SCCOOS technology and observational programs provide information critical to decision-making related to climate change, coastal hazards, marine ecosystems, fisheries, water quality, and marine operations.

Watch Research for Resilience on a Changing Planet – Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System.

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Oceans Out of Breath

Scripps climate scientist Yassir Eddebbar takes you on an exploration of the ocean’s interior to reveal a fascinating phenomenon – oxygen minimum zones (OMZs).

Oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) are regions of the global ocean that present low dissolved oxygen concentrations. Although they represent only a small fraction of the global ocean volume, they are considered to be an important sink for fixed nitrogen, contributing 30-50% of the oceanic nitrogen removal. They are important sources of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O), the latter also involved in the destruction of stratospheric ozone.

Focusing on his work in the tropical Pacific, Eddebbar explains what causes OMZs, how they are likely to change in response to climate change, and their potential to impact marine ecosystems and fisheries as climate warms.

Watch Oceans Out of Breath: Oxygen Minimum Zones in a Warming Climate.

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Our Impact on the Earth

“Mother Nature is not happy right now and she’s trying to tell us, in many ways,” says Kimberly Prather, Professor of Climate, Atmospheric Science, and Physical Oceanography at UC San Diego.

New weather patterns and events are causing concern but how do we know these changes are caused by human activity? Climate scientists are looking at trends over time to determine our impact on the planet.

Prather discusses recent CAICE studies aimed at advancing our understanding of how the oceans influence human and planetary health including novel experiments being conducted in a unique ocean-atmosphere simulator.

Watch — How Do We Know Humans are Impacting the Health of Our Planet? – Exploring Ethics

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The Future of our Oceans

Ours is a water planet. Technology is shaping our uses, both as foe and ally. It has made humans the dominant predator and provides us food, gives us half the oxygen we breathe and created many maritime jobs. But technology has also raised CO2 levels, caused acidic oceans, threatened ocean biodiversity and created grand climate challenges.

Marine biologists like Doug McCauley at UC Santa Barbara are also using technology to promote ocean health and provide a balance. In this talk, McCauley describes examples of technology used to help the oceans and marine biodiversity. He shows systems that track whale activity and communicate it to ships so they know where to slow down to avoid collisions. He describes technology to monitor marine protected areas, image recognition techniques to study the endangered giant sea bass and electronic tags to follow sharks.

McCauley began his career as a fisherman in the Port of Los Angeles. Eventually he migrated to marine science and UC Santa Barbara. McCauley has degrees in political science and biology from the UC Berkeley. His PhD research was done at Stanford University where he studied the ecology of sharks, giant parrotfish, and coral reef ecosystems. McCauley’s science is motivated by the belief that we must better understand how complex ocean ecosystems work if we want to better protect them from threats like overfishing, climate change, and pollution.

Watch — Technology: Friend or Foe for the Future of our Oceans

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From Sea to Pharmacy

The vastness of the ocean is only surpassed by the biodiversity within it; from familiar and unfamiliar mega-fauna, to every microbe and virus inhabiting every corner of the seas – from the deep freeze of the Antarctic to the scorching plumes of volcanic seafloor vents.

Paul Jensen describes how he and other researchers are tapping into the biodiversity of the world’s oceans as a relatively new resource for natural product drug discovery. Jensen is at the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.

Watch — Marine Natural Products: From Sea to Pharmacy

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