Science and report notes: BDCP and CS5, Salmon and magnetic fields, fish and their sense of smell, Redwood Creek restoration, water a national security concern, and more


Microscopic Life Captured in a Plankton Net
from NASA’s Earth Science Picture of the Day

More on the BDCP’s operational rules and CS5:  Buried within the myriad of documents released on Thursday is a five-page handout that discusses in some detail the evolution of the operating criteria, including the development of the outflow objectives as well as the “CS5” scenario, a set of operational criteria developed by the fishery agencies. For more, be sure to check out Background on BDCP Proposed Project and Operational Rules.

Salmon use magnetic field to find their way home:  Studies have shown that salmon use chemical cues to pinpoint the stream they return to for spawning, but how do they find their way back when they are thousands of kilometers away?  “A group of fisheries scientists recently offered the first empirical evidence that salmon navigate using the Earth’s magnetic field. The study’s findings, published in the journal Current Biology last month, suggest that salmon form an imprint of the magnetic field in their natal streams, and find their way back as adults via a route that matches the magnetic memory of their birthplace,” writes the FishBIO blog.  Read more here:  Salmon Navigate Home by Earth’s Magnetic Field

Fish in polluted water lose their sense of smell:  Studies have shown that fish in lakes tainted with metals lose their sense of smell:  “Fish use their sense of smell to find mates and food, and to avoid getting eaten. It helps them navigate their often murky world, and it is necessary for their growth and survival. But when metals contact fish nostrils, the neurons shut down to protect the brain. “We’ve tested everything from leeches to water fleas to several species of fish,” said Canadian scientist Greg Pyle. “Every species and every metal we’ve observed has had effects at low, environmentally relevant concentrations.”  Read more from Environmental Health News here: Fish lose sense of smell in polluted waters

Salmon and steelhead restoration in Redwood Creek:  Trout Unlimited’s blog reports on the success of the North Bay Chapter in restoring Marin County’s Redwood Creek.  “Mention wild salmon and steelhead and many people think of places like Alaska, perhaps the coasts of Washington and Oregon and the north coast of California; sparsely populated areas where lots of wildlands and healthy rivers remain. It’s true some of those places are the last strongholds for salmon and steelhead. But there are many rivers and creeks that once sustained an abundance of wild salmon and steelhead, have potential to do so again, and are close to some of the most populated areas in the nation.  Redwood Creek is one of those places … ”  Read more from the Trout Unlimited blog: North Bay Chapter Helps Restore Salmon and Steelhead to Redwood Creek (and Trout in the Classroom Pays Off)

Good news for engineering grads:  U.S. News and World Report says engineering has become the new “it” degree, with graduates finding plenty of job opportunities.  “While the unemployment rate for people with bachelor’s degrees was 3.9 percent in December 2012, says Mark Regets, a senior analyst at the National Science Foundation, the rate for engineers was 2 percent.  And the picture will only get rosier with the aging of the baby boomers. “Half of the engineers in the power industry are going to be retiring in the next five years,” says T.E. “Ed” Schlesinger, department head of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.”  Read more here:  Engineering Grads Enjoy Greater Job Prospects

And we certainly have plenty of work for those engineering grads …  ASCE upgrades the nation’s infrastructure from a D to a D+:  If the nation were my kid, I’d be taking away his bike and his cell phone, but yay for improvement, I guess.  ACWA’s Water News reports that the nation needs to spend $3.6 trillion to get its infrastructure to an “acceptable level” by 2020.  Read more and get links to the report from ACWA’s Water News here:  ASCE Grade on Nation’s Infrastructure Rises from D to D+

Solution to flooding: a house that rises and falls along with the floodwaters, so bring on the Biblical deluge!  Popular Science has the details on the British Amphibious House Concept:  “When floodwaters rise there aren’t a lot of places to hide, and in the oft-rainy UK that can spell big problems and major property damage. So in an attempt to mitigate the problem, British authorities have just built the country’s first amphibious house on the banks of the River Thames. When the river rises, the house rises with it. … ”  Read more from Popular Science here:  Britain Is Testing An Amphibious House That Rises Along WIth Floodwaters

Hidden filters in dunes clean up stormwater:  Researchers from North Carolina State University have devised low-cost filtration systems that are concealed beneath sand dunes and filter out most of the bacteria that can lead to beach closures. “The filters “exceeded our expectations” at removing bacterial pollution, Burchell says. And the study found minimal impact on ground water. There were short-term increases in ground water levels during storms, but those increases dissipated in anywhere from a few hours to two weeks.”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Researchers Devise Hidden Dune Filters to Treat Coastal Stormwater Runoff

Water is a national security concern, the Director of National Intelligence tells Congress:  ““Environmental stresses are not just humanitarian issues,” James Clapper told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Tuesday. “They legitimately threaten regional stability.” … ”  His testimony coincided with the release of his annual national security review.  For more information and for links to the report from Circle of Blue:  Director of National Intelligence: Water Still a U.S. National Security Concern

And lastly … the Boston Globe’s Big Picture blog celebrates World Water Day … a couple of days too early, but beautiful pictures nonetheless: World Water Day 2013

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