COAST award to study the California Current System

A new project in the Physical Oceanography lab, Remote forcing of seasonal currents in the California Current System, has been funded by the CSU Council on Ocean Affairs, Science and Technology (COAST) grant development program. This work will provide research opportunities for students, and help identify key locations and processes that can be targeted in future field studies.

The California Current System (CCS) serves as a confluence of water masses with diverse physical and biogeochemical characteristics, representing a broad range of sources throughout the Pacific Ocean. Although a great deal of past research has been devoted to characterizing this part of the ocean, the physical mechanisms that drive seasonal currents remain elusive. For example, multiple theories have been proposed for the generation of poleward currents that flow opposite to the direction of the prevailing wind. This study investigates the theory that remote winds as far away as the equator drive seasonal variability in the CCS, both near the coast and far offshore. Large scale waves, with wavelengths of hundreds to thousands of kilometers, can transmit energy along the coast and across the ocean.


The goal of this study is to conduct a synthesis of existing long-term data sets to 1) detect evidence of remote forcing at seasonal time scales in the CCS, 2) identify key sites where the remote forcing process is interrupted, and 3) create an experimental design for a focused process study in the field. Data from the multiple observational networks along the coast will be crucial for this project.

Scholarship in memory of Bill Watson

MLML will be awarding a one-time scholarship this year in memory of Bill Watson. Bill was a big part of MLML for many years. He started as a student in the Physical Oceanography lab under Dr. Broenkow, completing his thesis on tidal currents in Elkhorn Slough in 2005. He then worked at the labs in the shop and helped many students with projects, particularly with  electronics and instrumentation.

Bill also shared his love of music with the MLML community. He started a bluegrass group at the lab, and started a two-year trip to handcraft 5 string banjos (see photos below). One of those banjos was raffled off to fund a $3,000 dollar student scholarship a few years back (more about this here: The Bill Watson Memorial Scholarship will be awarded this spring, at our annual scholarship reception, in the amount determined by the donations we receive.

How to donate
  • Online: — please make mention of “Bill Watson Scholarship, Acct  #095-1509-5201”
  • By check: payable to “Tower Foundation of SJSU,” with “Bill Watson Scholarship, Acct  #095-1509-5201” written on the memo line. Checks can be either mailed to MLML, dropped off in person at the front desk, or mailed directly to the Tower Foundation of SJSU at following address:
                 Advancement Services Department
                 San José State University
                 One Washington Square
                 San Jose, CA 95192-0183 (extended zip code 0183 is very important)



MBARI intern symposium

Just down the road, MBARI will be hosting its 20th annual summer intern symposium on Wednesday, August 10.

Drew Burrier, graduate student in the MLML Physical Oceanography lab, will be presenting from 11:00-11:15. The title of his talk is “Current affairs: An examination of the physical setting at Station M via the benthic rover.”

Many other exciting presentations are happening throughout the day. More info:

REU Symposium

Undergraduate students doing research all around Monterey Bay will soon be presenting their work at a summer research symposium. This summer, Miranda Baker from Haverford College worked on an interdisciplinary project with the Physical and Chemical Oceanography labs. At the symposium, she will talk about her research on salinity, nutrients and dissolved oxygen in Moro Cojo Slough.

For more info:


MLML Open House 2016

Every spring, Moss Landing Marine Labs hosts an open house to educate the public about marine science and raise funds for scholarships. This year, over 2,000 visitors came through the labs over the course of the weekend. The Physical Oceanography lab set up a wide variety of activities for all ages, including:

  • Internal waves in a bottle
  • Wave tank beach erosion
  • Interactive cruise data plotting
  • Real-time temperature data stream
  • Coriolis force on a turntable
Drew explaining internal wave dynamics.


Tom at the CTD station.