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Scripps Institution of Oceanography set open doors to new facility in 2022

SOARS project will help better understand ocean, climate change
Posted at 7:24 AM, Dec 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-16 10:24:57-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego is getting ready to open the doors to its $4 million SOARS facility in January 2022 — a first-of-its-kind project that's been five years in the making.

“The fate of humankind has always been tied up with the fate of the oceans,” said Grant Deane, a research oceanographer at Scripps Institution of Oceanography

The ocean is a complex ecosystem that plays in our current lives and future lives, especially with climate change. With the Scripps Ocean Atmosphere Research Simulator, researchers from around the planet will be able to see impacts of climate change on the ocean and more firsthand.

“We built SOARS to understand this complex interplay of chemistry, biology and physics. We can now recreate ocean storms in the lab along with the chemistry and biology of the ocean,” Deane said.

The SOARS project can produce wind gusts of up to 60 MPH and drop and raise water temperatures to both polar and tropical levels.

“There’s sort of a visceral reaction to when it’s all turn with the winds blowing and the waves crashing,” said Scripps Institution of Oceanography research oceanographer Dale Stokes.

One of the hopes of the facility is to use the data from these simulations to figure out the impacts of carbon dioxide levels in atmosphere.

“Carbon dioxide levels in the environment are rising. SOARS gives us a closed loop system where we can adjust carbon dioxide as one of the parameters,” Stokes said. “We can simulate conditions right now. We can simulate conditions 10, 50, 100 years in the future.”

The project can show clouds fueled ocean spray can impact the ocean and much more.

“We don’t know how that’s going to change as we continue to burn fossil fuels, and we absolutely need to,” Deane said. “We need to quickly so, we can understand if those clouds will help us by cooling the planet. Or whether they will actually act against us by heating the planet.”

SOARS’ data could also give an idea of how those clouds impact on rising sea levels — something that’s important for coastal communities like San Diego.

“There’s 20 feet of sea level rise locked up in the Greenland ice sheet. How quickly will that sheet destabilize and rise the global level of the ocean? We need to know now!” Deane said.

Taking in and understanding the ocean in a new way. It’s a breath of fresh air; something we all hope to experience any time on our coast.

“There’s a human health component to SOARS. As you’re walking along the beach, you’re breathing in what’s coming out of the ocean,” Deane said. “Well, all things come out of the ocean. Some we like and some we don’t like. We need to understand that process better too and SOARS can help us with that.”

Researchers also said the new facility will also be a cost saving tool. They said traditional at-sea ocean tests can run up to roughly $10,000 a day.