World’s most sophisticated ocean simulator will be operational in early 2022.
Aerolab began construction of a climate change research instrument for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego in 2020. The Scripps Ocean-Atmosphere Research Simulator, or SOARS.
SOARS is designed to reproduce the air-sea boundary along with its chemistry and biology. The 2.4 m x 2.4 m cross-section channel is 36 m long and can achieve 20 m/s winds and 0.9 m amplitude waves. Seawater in the channel can be cooled to 1 Celsius and raised to 30 Celsuis. Air temperature control ranges from -15 Celsius to 30 Celsius, allowing it to simulate polar to tropical conditions. The ventilation system is sealed and allows it to vary atmosphere composition, so it can vary CO2 levels, for example. It also contains switchable, atmospheric scrubber filters, allowing for the study of pristine sea spray. Construction materials are non-toxic and it has both natural and artificial lighting to grow marine organisms in the channel.
SOARS has 4 operating modes: Aerosol, for the study of sea spray, wind/wave for the study of breaking waves, mesocosm for the study of marine organisms and polar, to study sea ice and ice/wave interactions (there are heaters in the channel side wall to prevent ice from building up on the channel side). SOARS will be operational Q1 of 2022.