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Campus Currents May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Pacific Gyres and Robotic Gliders

A groundbreaking research program designed to uncover the mechanisms underlying changes in the ecosystems off California's coast has received renewed funding to advance its vital work.

The National Science Foundation is providing $5.62 million over six years to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego-based California Current Ecosystem (CCE) program, part of NSF's Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program.

Now entering phase two, Mark Ohman, lead principal investigator of the program and a professor of biological oceano­graphy at Scripps, says CCE-LTER is now armed with a dream team of scientists, including ecologists, molecular biologists, marine chemists, physical oceanographers and ocean modelers.

Ohman says the program is now poised to tunnel in on important mechanisms that underlie responses to climate variations.

Among the many accomplishments of the initial phase, CCE-LTER scientists uncovered a new climate mode, the "North Pacific Gyre Oscillation," which explains many biological and physical changes in the North Pacific, and introduced new technologies to study the California Current, including a robotic glider known as Spray, and high-tech moorings outfitted with a variety of biological and chemical sensors.

—Mario C. Aguilera, '89