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Major Ocean Research Effort Centered In San Diego

Rain lingers on the horizon behind Scripps Pier, which is where weather ballo...

Photo by Erik Anderson

Above: Rain lingers on the horizon behind Scripps Pier, which is where weather balloon launches are happening on Mar. 10, 2020.

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego will host a major research initiative funded by the federal government.

UC San Diego will host the Cooperative Institute for Marine, Earth and Atmospheric systems, and it will get up to $220 million in funding for research over a five-year period.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is making the investment locally after a competitive bidding process.

“Every major advance that we made in ocean and atmospheric science through our laboratories has been done with the cooperative institutes. They’re a vital component to our mission,” said Craig McLean, the assistant administrator for research at NOAA.

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The research institute will help federal scientists understand the complicated interaction between ocean and atmosphere, and interaction the effects the planet's climate.

“The California current, the West Coast rainfall, the abundance or lack of abundance of water, drought conditions. How would that affect the wildfire circumstances,” McLean said. “Many of the problems that the West Coast community, from California all the way to Washington, are facing are subjects of study here with this cooperative institute.”

The interaction between the ocean and atmosphere has been studied for decades, but McLean said there is still much to understand.

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“I know that ocean waves and ocean energy drive weather as does the atmosphere take effect on the ocean itself,” McLean said. “There’s an interplay between the two. We’ve been studying that for 50 years. And we’ve been studying that with the assistance of the academic community for those 50 years.”

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography will host the center, which is one of 17 around the country but the only one in California.

Listen to this story by Erik Anderson.


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Photo of Erik Anderson

Erik Anderson
Environment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI focus on the environment and all the implications that a changing or challenging environment has for life in Southern California. That includes climate change, endangered species, habitat, urbanization, pollution and many other topics.

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