Unleash the Dragons! (Seadragons, that is.)

8232It’s not often that a new species is discovered almost 100 years after it was first collected and described. But we’re in a new age of taxonomy powered by new genetic and anatomical imaging tools.

While researching the two known species of seadragons as part of an effort to understand and protect the exotic and delicate fish, scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego made a startling discovery: a third species of seadragon.

Using DNA and anatomical research tools, Scripps graduate student Josefin Stiller and marine biologists Nerida Wilson of the Western Australia Museum (WAM) and Greg Rouse of Scripps Oceanography found evidence for the new species while analyzing tissue samples supplied by WAM. The researchers then requested the full specimen as well as photographs taken just after it was retrieved from the wild in 2007. They were further surprised by the appearance of the newly identified animal. The color was a bright shade of red and vastly different from the orange tint in Leafy Seadragons and the yellow and purple hues of Common Seadragons.

Stiller, Wilson, and Rouse gave their new discovery the scientific name Phyllopteryx dewysea, also referred to as the “Ruby Seadragon.”

Watch Unleash the Dragons! as Stiller shares the secrets of this newly described specie of seadragon and how it was discovered.

In the Spirit of Sally Ride: Margaret Leinen

8232Margaret Leinen, the warm and inspiring director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, is the first “star” in The Constellation, a new interview series presented by Sally Ride Science@ UC San Diego featuring women enjoying successful and satisfying lives in science.

Leinen describes how her early interest in rocks led to a career in protecting the seas. Among the highlights – leading the UC delegation to the international climate talks in Paris. She and her colleagues spread the word that climate change is leaving the oceans “hot, sour and breathless.”

For more on Paris and new projects at Scripps, watch The Constellation: Margaret Leinen.

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Understand Climate Change – and What You Can Do About It

Learn more about climate change with new programs that examine its impact from a variety of perspectives. Discover how humans and climate interact and affect one another, learn what you can do to reduce greenhouse emissions, and get a behind-the-scenes look at the Pope’s call to protect the environment.

8232Climate Change, Consumerism and the Pope with Daniel Kammen and Jennifer Granholm

After being summoned to the Vatican to advise on climate change, Dan Kammen of UC Berkeley shares an insider’s view on what inspired Pope Francis to issue such a passionate plea to protect the earth in Laudato Si, his 2015 encyclical on the environment. As a practicing Catholic, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm praises the Pope for presenting “human ecology” as a moral issue in this lively exchange with Kammen and Henry E. Brady, dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley.

Watch Climate Change, Consumerism and the Pope with Daniel Kammen and Jennifer Granholm.

8232What Are You Going to Do About It? The Effect of Uncertainty on Climate Change Policy

Taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions imposes costs now in order to avoid potentially very large costs from more severe climate change in the future. Steve Polasky, Professor of Ecological/Environmental Economics University of Minnesota, reviews major sources of uncertainty and how that alters the choice of optimal climate change policy. He discusses current debates on how best to frame climate change policy, and whether it should be framed as setting limits on greenhouse gas concentrations to avoid potentially catastrophic damages or as an application of benefit-cost analysis.

Watch What Are You Going to Do About It? The Effect of Uncertainty on Climate Change Policy.

8232CARTA: Human-Climate Interactions and Evolution: Past and Future

According to earth scientists, paleontologists, and scholars in other fields, the planet has entered a new geological phase – the Anthropocene, the age of humans. How did this transition of our species from an apelike ancestor in Africa to the current planetary force occur? What are the prospects for the future of world climate, ecosystems, and our species? This symposium presents varied perspectives on these critical questions from earth scientists, ecologists, and paleoanthropologists.

Watch CARTA: Human-Climate Interactions and Evolution: Past and Future.

The Amazing Diversity of Fishes!

8232The aquatic world presents the widest diversity of habitats, so it’s no surprise that fishes have come to present the widest diversity of vertebrate species.

From the darkest depths to tropical shores, there are more than 33,000 species of living fishes, accounting for more than half of the extant vertebrate diversity on Earth.

For years, Curator of Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Marine Vertebrate collection, Phil Hastings, has been immersed in the systematics and phylogeny of fishes, their marine biogeography, and the ecology and behavioral evolution of fishes, and takes you on a tour of what makes this most diverse array of animals.

Watch The Amazing Diversity of Fishes.

Browse more programs from Perspectives on Ocean Science.

Atmospheric Rivers: California Rainmakers

8232“If we went straight up from here to space, took every water vapor molecule, and condensed it into liquid, anybody hazard to guess how deep it might be?”

So queried Marty Ralph, atmospheric scientist and director of the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes early on in his fascinating exploration of the newest understanding of how precipitable moisture is transported in the atmosphere. The answer to his question is as surprising as what people like him have helped us come to understand about what scientists and meteorologists now call “ARs”, or atmospheric rivers.

Just ten years ago we didn’t have a clear understanding or a name for this phenomenon, but as Marty shows, the advent of new satellite technology made these atmospheric features “…stand out like a sore thumb.”

If the history of their discovery isn’t fascinating enough, what they mean for California, and anywhere else in the world affected by the influence of ARs is stunning in terms of what they can do in terms of damage, as well as ending droughts. Considering the current situation you might find yourself hoping for a bit of an “Arkstorm”. What’s that? You’ll have to watch and see, but I will say, like massive earthquakes, they have happened here before, and they will happen again.

Watch Atmospheric Rivers: California Rainmakers.

Browse more programs in Perspectives on Ocean Science.