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It's Official — San Diego's Ocean Waters Break Record

The Scripps Memorial Pier in La Jolla is shown in this undated photo.
Milan Kovacevic
The Scripps Memorial Pier in La Jolla is shown in this undated photo.

Scripps researchers on Wednesday recorded the highest ocean temperature at Scripps Pier in La Jolla since they began taking daily measurements there in 1916. That surpassed a previous high set during an unusually warm period in July 1931.

Once a day for the last 102 years someone has come to a small concrete room on the end of Scripps Pier.

"So right now we collect two samples," said Birch Aquarium worker Sean Bruce as he lowered a sample bottle down to the ocean.

Bruce is adding to a record that began when the trench warfare of World War I dominated world news.

San Diego's Ocean Waters Break Record

"Every single day we take a sea surface sample and a bottom sample. These are testing salinity as well as temperature," said Bruce.

And it was Wednesday's temperature reading that raised eyebrows. Scripps Institution of Oceanography researcher Melissa Carter said it was the highest temperature ever recorded here — 78.6 degrees.

Carter works with the information gathered here and at several other near-shore locations.

"What we've found is that since 2004 we've actually had quite a bit of warming," said Carter, of Scripps Institution of Oceanography Shore Station program.

"In 2015-16 we saw almost two standard deviations above a long-term mean. I mean that's science talk for it's really warm. And it's now extremely warm," Carter said.

Temperatures recorded here are just part of the scientific record that tell researchers about the condition of the world's oceans.

Data is collected worldwide, much of it from a series of floats known as the Argo Array. There are more than 3,700 floats distributed around the world's oceans.

"Making the observations we do at Scripps in general from the pier, from the data that we collect from underwater gliders is in some ways the most fundamental thing we do because no matter what happens, what changes occur. At the baseline we have to see them and be able to document what happened," said Dan Rudnick of Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Scripps researchers say the new record could fall again this month. August typically brings San Diego some of the warmest ocean temperatures of the year.

It's Official — San Diego's Ocean Waters Break Record
A warm spell in Southern California has resulted in a new ocean temperature record at Scripps Pier.

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