UCSD Adds New Major in Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences

Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Communications

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) at UC San Diego is now offering a Bachelor of Science in Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences.

The major joins the latest wave of interdisciplinary majors at UCSD, which the school claims is “in response to future demand, workplace trends, and alumni feedback.” Other new majors include Business Psychology, Data Science, and Real Estate and Development.

The new major was launched in Fall 2017 as an interdisciplinary subject that applies chemistry and physics to the ocean and atmosphere, emphasizing a hands-on approach, according to the Scripps website. It is the third undergraduate major offered by Scripps, along with Earth Sciences and Marine Biology.

“One of Scripps’ main strengths is our ability to access the ocean,” Daniel Rudnick, a physical oceanographer and professor at Scripps who was instrumental in the creation of the major, said in a press release. “This new major is an opportunity for students to be involved with Scripps science, including using data we’re collecting, and by going on cruises or working in labs.”

The major requires a newly-created core course called “Chemistry of the Ocean and Atmosphere,” along with two other core requirements of “Introduction to Physical Oceanography” and “Physics of the Atmosphere.” The SIO classes accessible to students taking the major may involve trips to the beach, the Birch Aquarium, and the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier, as well as an undergraduate cruise on R/V Robert Gordon Sproul (one of the four Scripps research ships), according to the Scripps website.

“The focus of the major is the planet’s ocean and atmosphere and their intimate connections. Both [the] ocean and atmosphere are fluids, so they share similar physics and intellectual tools needed for understanding them,” said Jeff Severinghaus, professor of Geosciences at Scripps. “We cannot understand climate on Earth without taking into account the profound effect of the ocean on heat storage.”

Students will not only learn about the scientific aspects of the curriculum, but also the social and political perspectives on topics such as human-caused climate change, El Niño, global warming, and many more. The major will give students access to a wide variety of job opportunities, whether in research at facilities like the Scripps Institution or at government institutions like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is the federal agency in charge of weather forecasting and naming hurricanes.

Anabel King is a Staff Writer at The Triton.