February 17, 2020 by Dr. G
Today was the day before the official start of technical sessions for the Ocean Sciences Meeting 2020 in San Diego, California. The day was filled with half-day and full-day workshops on everything from programs to manage oceanographic data to improving science communication skills. Since this was my first-time ever in San Diego, I took the opportunity to participate in a fieldtrip to see something “scientific”. When I saw there was a trip to the Birch Aquarium and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, I knew this was the Sunday event for me!
There were 30 of us that boarded a bus to head to our first stop, the Birch Aquarium at Scripps. It was a great group of people – most were participants from other countries (I think only four of us were from the United States), and we were from varied fields (from chemistry to biology to art).
On the ride over to the aquarium, I learned some fascinating facts about San Diego.
- It is the second-largest city in California, with the highest point at 1,000 feet above sea level (and where Dr. Seuss once lived)
- All of the palm trees were planted and are watered. In fact, the only native plant is the torrey pine (this landscape should only have chaparral)
- 25% of the Navy and 20% of the Marines are in San Diego
- San Diego has the steepest incline of any international airport for descent to land, and it is the busiest one runway airport in the United States
OK, but for the interesting science facts:
- It receives less than 12 inches of rainfall per year
- The city imports 80% of their water
- The city has four climate zones – desert, beach, mountains, and snow-bearing mountains
- Fire is more of a hazard than earthquakes, thanks to the Santa Ana winds in the dry season
Then we learned a little background about Mr. Scripps. He is actually responsible for bringing eucalyptus trees to San Diego, as he thought you could make railroad ties from the wood. It turns out that the wood was no good (too brittle). And the trees actually poison the ground right below/around it. Although… because of all the trees, San Diego was the first zoo to get koala bears, since they already had the food koalas eat, and koalas don’t drink water (ideal for a location with low rainfall amounts!).
We saw lots of sites at the aquarium in a very short time. I posted on Instagram about some of the sites – check out my posts!
We then headed to the Scripps Institution of Oceanograhy, where we had box lunches and heard some of the history of Scripps from Kirk Gardner.
Next, we toured the Scripps Pier, the Hubbs Research Aquarium, and the marine vertebrate collection.
My favorite part of the day? Seeing the building (at least the outside) where Charles Keeling worked! I also got my photo with the signage outside. After visiting the Mauna Loa Observatory a few years ago and being at the field site, it was pretty cool to be at his “office” site, too.
Then for the evening, it was time for a plenary lecture, an incredibly passionate and inspiring talk by Nainoa Thompson. Please see my post on my AGU blog GeoEd Trek for my reflections on this speaker and his journey not only on the ocean but to connect science and education.