Scripps Institution of Oceanography

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Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Scripps Institution of Oceanography logo.png
Former names
Marine Biological Association of San Diego
Scripps Institution for Biological Research [1]
Parent institution
University of California San Diego
DirectorMargaret Leinen [2]
Academic staff
415 [3]
Administrative staff
800 [3]
Postgraduates 300 [3]
32°51′56″N117°15′13″W / 32.865437°N 117.253626°W / 32.865437; -117.253626 Coordinates: 32°51′56″N117°15′13″W / 32.865437°N 117.253626°W / 32.865437; -117.253626
A view of Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 2011, taken from the Birch Aquarium. Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 2011.JPG
A view of Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 2011, taken from the Birch Aquarium.
Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier SIOpier.jpg
Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography (sometimes referred to as SIO, Scripps Oceanography, or Scripps) in San Diego, California, founded in 1903, is one of the oldest and largest centers for ocean and Earth science research, public service, undergraduate and graduate training in the world. Hundreds of ocean and Earth scientists conduct research with the aid of oceanographic research vessels and shorebased laboratories. Its Old Scripps Building is a U.S. National Historic Landmark. SIO is a division of the University of California San Diego (UCSD). The public explorations center of the institution is the Birch Aquarium at Scripps. Since becoming part of the University of California in 1912, the institution has expanded its scope to include studies of the physics, chemistry, geology, biology, and climate of Earth.


Dr. Margaret Leinen took office as Vice Chancellor for Marine Sciences, Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Dean of the Graduate School of Marine Sciences on October 1, 2013. [2]

Scripps publishes explorations now, an e-magazine of ocean and earth science.

Mission statement

"To seek, teach, and communicate scientific understanding of the oceans, atmosphere, Earth, and other planets for the benefit of society and the environment." [4]


Scripps Institution of Oceanography was founded in 1903 as the Marine Biological Association of San Diego, an independent biological research laboratory. It was proposed and incorporated by a committee of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce, led by local activist and amateur malacologist Fred Baker, together with two colleagues. He recruited University of California Zoology professor William Emerson Ritter to head up the proposed marine biology institution, and obtained financial support from local philanthropists E. W. Scripps and his sister Ellen Browning Scripps. They fully funded the institution for its first decade. It began institutional life in the boathouse of the Hotel del Coronado located on San Diego Bay. It re-located in 1905 to the La Jolla area on the head above La Jolla Cove, and finally in 1907 to its present location. [5]

In 1912 Scripps became incorporated into the University of California and was renamed the "Scripps Institution for Biological Research." [1] Since 1916, measurements have been taken daily at its pier. [6] The name was changed to Scripps Institution of Oceanography in October 1925. [1] During the 1960s, led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography director Roger Revelle, it formed the nucleus for the creation of the University of California, San Diego on a bluff overlooking Scripps Institution.

The Old Scripps Building, designed by Irving Gill, was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1982. [7] [8] Architect Barton Myers designed the current Scripps Building for the Institution of Oceanography in 1998.

Research programs

Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers at sea SIOresearch.jpg
Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers at sea

The institution's research programs encompass biological, physical, chemical, geological, and geophysical studies of the oceans and land. Scripps also studies the interaction of the oceans with both the atmospheric climate and environmental concerns on terra firma. Related to this research, Scripps offers undergraduate and graduate degrees. [9]

Today, the Scripps staff of 1,300 includes approximately 235 faculty, 180 other scientists and some 300 graduate students, with an annual budget of more than $195 million. [10]

The institution operates a fleet of three oceanographic research vessels and the research platform R/P FLIP (FLoating Instrument Platform) for oceanographic research. [11]

The Integrated Research Themes [12] encompassing the work done by Scripps researchers are Biodiversity and Conservation, California Environment, Earth and Planetary Chemistry, Earth Through Space and Time, Energy and the Environment, Environment and Human Health, Global Change, Global Environmental Monitoring, Hazards, Ice and Climate, Instruments and Innovation, Interfaces, Marine Life, Modeling Theory and Computing, Sound and Light and the Sea, and Waves and Circulation.

Organizational structure

Scripps Oceanography is divided into three research sections, each with its own subdivisions: [13]

Research vessels

Scripps research vessel Roger Revelle SIOrevelle.jpg
Scripps research vessel Roger Revelle

Scripps owns and operates several research vessels and platforms: [14]

Current and previous vessels larger than 50 ft (15 m)

Birch Aquarium at Scripps

Birch Aquarium at Scripps, with the Village of La Jolla in the background Aq facility rental.jpg
Birch Aquarium at Scripps, with the Village of La Jolla in the background

Birch Aquarium at Scripps, the public exploration center for the institution, features a Hall of Fishes with more than 60 tanks of Pacific fishes and invertebrates from the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest to the tropical waters of Mexico and the IndoPacific, a 13,000-gallon local shark and ray exhibit, interactive tide pools, and interactive science exhibits. [15]

Notable faculty members (past and present)

Notable alumni

In 2014, the institution and its Keeling Curve measurement of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were featured as a plot point in an episode of HBO's The Newsroom. [17] In 2008, Scripps Institution of Oceanography was the subject of a category on the TV game show Jeopardy! . [18] Scripps has been a story element in numerous fictional works. [19]

See also

Related Research Articles

University of California, San Diego Public university in San Diego, California

The University of California, San Diego is a public land-grant research university in San Diego, California. Established in 1960 near the pre-existing Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego is the southernmost of the ten campuses of the University of California, and offers over 200 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, enrolling 31,842 undergraduate and 8,631 graduate students. The university occupies 2,178 acres (881 ha) near the coast of the Pacific Ocean, with the main campus resting on approximately 1,152 acres (466 ha). UC San Diego is ranked among the best universities in the world by major college and university rankings.

Harald Sverdrup (oceanographer)

Harald Ulrik Sverdrup was a Norwegian oceanographer and meteorologist. He was director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography and director of the Norwegian Polar Institute.

La Jolla Community of San Diego in California, United States

La Jolla is a hilly, seaside neighborhood within the city of San Diego, California, occupying 7 miles (11 km) of curving coastline along the Pacific Ocean. The population reported in the 2010 census was 46,781.

Moss Landing Marine Laboratories

The Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) is a multi-campus marine research consortium of the California State University System, headquartered at Moss Landing, California.

Revelle College Oldest residential college at the University of California, San Diego

Revelle College is the oldest residential college at the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla, California. Founded in 1964, it is named after oceanographer and UC San Diego founder Roger Revelle. UC San Diego—along with Revelle College—was founded at the height of the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union. As a result, the initial class of 181 undergraduates comprised only 30 non-science majors. Revelle College focuses on developing "a well-rounded student who is intellectually skilled and prepared for competition in a complex world."

Charles David Keeling American scientist (1928-2005)

Charles David Keeling was an American scientist whose recording of carbon dioxide at the Mauna Loa Observatory confirmed Svante Arrhenius's proposition (1896) of the possibility of anthropogenic contribution to the "greenhouse effect" and global warming, by documenting the steadily rising carbon dioxide levels. The Keeling Curve measures the progressive buildup of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, in the atmosphere.

Roger Revelle American scientist

Roger Randall Dougan Revelle was a scientist and scholar who was instrumental in the formative years of the University of California, San Diego and was among the early scientists to study anthropogenic global warming, as well as the movement of Earth's tectonic plates. UC San Diego's first college is named Revelle College in his honor.

Walter Munk American oceanographer

Walter Heinrich Munk was an American physical oceanographer. One of the first scientists to bring statistical methods to the analysis of oceanographic data, Munk is noted for creating fruitful areas of research that continue to be explored by other scientists. Munk's work garnered him many prestigious awards including the National Medal of Science, the Kyoto Prize, and induction to the French Legion of Honour.

RV <i>Roger Revelle</i> (AGOR-24)

R/V Roger Revelle is an auxiliary general-purpose research vessel (AGOR) operated by Scripps Institution of Oceanography under charter agreement with Office of Naval Research as part of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) fleet.

Hopkins Marine Station is the marine laboratory of Stanford University. It is located ninety miles south of the university's main campus, in Pacific Grove, California on the Monterey Peninsula, adjacent to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It is home to ten research laboratories and a fluctuating population of graduate and undergraduate students. It has also been used for archaeological exploration including that of the Chinese-American fishing village that existed on the site before being burnt down in 1906.

Birch Aquarium

Birch Aquarium at Scripps is an aquarium and the public outreach center for Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Birch Aquarium at Scripps has an annual attendance of more than 439,000, including more than 40,000 school children, and features more than 3,000 animals representing 380 species. The hilltop site provides views of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus and the Pacific Ocean. The mission of the aquarium reads: "At Birch Aquarium at Scripps, we connect understanding to protecting our ocean planet".

USS <i>Snatch</i> (ARS-27)

USS Snatch (ARS-27), well known as Scripps R/V Argo after conversion to scientific research, was a Diver-class rescue and salvage ship commissioned by the U.S. Navy during World War II and in service from 11 December 1944 through 23 December 1946. Her task was to come to the aid of stricken vessels. The ship is better known from her scientific research role as the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) research vessel R/V Argo. It is that name, apparently not formally recognized by Navy that maintained title to the vessel, found in the scientific literature and public releases about her wide ranging research voyages.

Old Scripps Building United States historic place

The Old Scripps Building is a historic research facility on the campus of the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla, California. Built in 1909-10, is the oldest oceanographic research building in continuous use in the United States, and the historic center of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. It is also architecturally significant as a work of Modernist architect Irving Gill, and for its early use of reinforced concrete. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1982. It now houses Scripps administrative offices.

Seibert Quimby Duntley was born in Bushnell, Illinois on October 2, 1911. He received an SB in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1933. Duntley received an MS degree from California Institute of Technology in 1935 and an Sc.D. in physics from MIT in 1939. While at MIT, Duntley met and worked with Karl Taylor Compton, Harold Eugene Edgerton, and many other prominent physicists. Duntley's primary interest was in applied physics particularly the optics of turbid media.

The Roger Revelle Prize is a prize given out by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to people who have made outstanding contributions that advance or promote scientific research in fields such as oceanography, climatology and other planetary sciences. This prize is named for Roger Revelle, a scientist who served as director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and was instrumental in the founding of the University of California, San Diego. He was an important oceanographer and a pioneer in climate change research.

RV <i>Horizon</i>

RV Horizon, ex Auxiliary Fleet Tug ATA-180, was a Scripps Institution of Oceanography research vessel from 1949 through 1968. During that time she made 267 cruises and logging 610,522 miles (982,540 km) spending 4,207 days at sea.

Frank E. Snodgrass

Frank Edwin Snodgrass was a physical oceanographer and electrical engineer. He spent nearly all of his career working with Prof. Walter Munk at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO). The Cecil H. and Ida M. Green branch of the University of California Systemwide Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP), in La Jolla, California has been strongly linked to Scripps since the 1960s through joint faculty appointments, research interests, and shared facilities. Other IGPP branches can be found at the Los Angeles, Irvine, Santa Cruz and Riverside campuses. Snodgrass spent many years researching and measuring the ocean tides and waves. During his career he had opportunities to work with fellow scientists around the world, including collaborations through the IGPP campuses, with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and with the National Institute of Oceanography in England.

Judith Munk

Judith Munk was an American artist and designer associated with Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She was inducted into the San Diego Women's Hall of Fame posthumously, in 2008.

George G. Shor American geophysicist

George G. Shor Jr. was an American marine geophysicist. His entire career was at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. He began his career working with the Mohole Project, an ambitious project that attempted to drill to the Mohorovičić discontinuity from deep-ocean regions.

Elizabeth Noble Shor American historian

Elizabeth Noble Shor was an American historian and scientist. Her entire career was at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (Scripps) in La Jolla, California.


  1. 1 2 3 Scripps history.
  2. 1 2 "Scripps Welcomes Margaret Leinen as Director". 2013-09-30.
  3. 1 2 3 "Mission and Quick Facts". Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  4. Mission and Quick Facts, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
  5. Shragge, Abraham J.; Dietze, Kay (Spring 2003). "Character, Vision, and Creativity: The Extraordinary Confluence of Forces that Gave Rise to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography". Journal of San Diego History. 49 (2).
  6. Graff, Amy (15 August 2018). "81-degree reading likely sets record for highest temperature ever measured in California waters". SFGate. San Francisco. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  7. "Old Scripps Building". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service . Retrieved 2008-07-10.
  8. James H. Charleton (February 12, 1982). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Scripps, George H., Memorial Marine Biological Laboratory / Old Scripps Building" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-06-22.Cite journal requires |journal= (help) and Accompanying 10 or so photos, exterior and interior, from 1977, 1980, and undated  (2.83 MB)
  9. "Education". Scripps Institution of Oceanography. 2013-03-07. Retrieved 2016-05-31.
  10. "Mission and Quick Facts | Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego". Retrieved 2017-01-20.
  11. "Ships". Scripps Institution of Oceanography. 2013-01-17. Retrieved 2016-05-31.
  12. "Integrated Research Themes". Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
  13. "Research Sections". 2013-05-16.
  14. SIO Timeline, from SIO Archives, UCSD online collection. Shor, E., Scripps in the 1950s: A Decade of Bluewater Oceanography, Journal of San Diego History, v29:4, 1983. Shor, E., SIO: Probing the oceans 1936–1976, Tofua Press, San Diego, 1978.
  16. J. Baylor Roberts, "An Artist Fashions Replicas of Strange Sea Dwellers" a photograph accompanying "La Jolla, a Gem of the California Coast" National Geographic (December 1952).
  17. "We Fact Checked Aaron Sorkin's Climate Science on "The Newsroom"". Mother Jones.
  18. "What is... A Night in the Spotlight?". 2013-11-20.
  19. "Scripps Institution of Oceanography". EScholarship.

Further reading