Science and report notes: Levees, selenium, salmon, subsidence, sea level rise, and a lot more

Sonoma Valley Rainbow

Earth Science Picture of the Day, 4/2/2013: Sonoma County Rainbow

Something for everyone in this week’s update  ….

Levees, selenium and salmon are highlighted in the latest issue of the research journal, San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science, now available online.  In this issue, Delta Subsidence Reversal, Levee Failure, and Aquatic Habitat—A Cautionary Tale (Bates, Lund), Ecosystem-scale Selenium Model for the San Francisco Bay-Delta Regional Ecosystem Restoration Implementation Plan (Presser, Luoma), and Migration Patterns of Juvenile Winter-run-sized Chinook Salmon through the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta (del Rosario, Redler, Newman, Brandes, Sommer, Reece).  Click here to read this issue of the San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science.

Going down … Reversing subsidence in the Central Valley:  KQED covers a new program in the Central Valley to reverse subsidence due to groundwater pumping, in some places, as much as a foot per year:  ” … Two years ago, Cameron worked with environmental engineers and state regulators to flood about a thousand acres of farmland with a foot of water from the Kings River. The water pooled up in the fields, making vineyards look like rice paddies. And that raised a few eyebrows around here.  “There have been a lot of growers that have looked at our operation with skepticism,” says Cameron, recalling one test that left his grape vines under about a foot of water for three months. “The vines eventually turned a yellow color and we turned the water off, and about a week later, they were back to normal.”  And they still produced grapes — with excess river water that otherwise would have flowed out to San Francisco Bay. … ”  Read more about it here:  How Flooding Fields Could Alleviate Water Supply Stress

Rising up … the RISE project takes an in-depth look at how sea level rise will impact the San Francisco Bay region and those that live there in a series of short videos.  Watch the videos from National Geographic’s News Watch here:  RISE: Climate Change and Coastal Communities

And circling around … the environmental docs for the Recirculation of Recaptured San Joaquin River Restoration Program Flows now available at the Bureau of Reclamation website:  Reclamation Releases Final Environmental Documents for Recirculation of Recaptured San Joaquin River Restoration Program Flows

The latest issue of the San Francisco Estuary Partnership’s Estuary News is now available.  In this issue, overbite clams, the new Bay Observatory, and horizontal levees are just some of the topics covered.  Read it here:  EstApr2013FINAL-web

Delta Science Program pages highlight research efforts: The Delta Science Program has awarded 40+ research grants totaling more than $25 million since 2004; new webpages available at the Delta Stewardship Council detail the findings of 18 of those projects.  The ongoing studies contain brief summaries of the project purpose and objectives while the pages for completed studies include a results summary, final project reports and a list of publications.  You can find them all here:  Delta Science Program’s Grant Program Page

The Delta Science Program Fellowships available:  Individuals wishing to do pre-doctoral and postdoctoral research in the disciplines of environmental science, engineering, and social science with a natural resources focusare invited to compete for the up to 10 Delta Science Fellowship positions that are available.  Fellowships will be awarded on the basis of intellectual merit, as well as the expected contribution to the priority issues in implementing the Delta Plan.  Deadline to apply is May 20, 2013.  Find out more here:  Delta Science Fellows Program

Rescuing Sturgeon in the Sacramento River:  Green sturgeon live long lives – up to 50 years, and females don’t start reproducing until they are of driving age, so losing mature females in particular can be devastating to the sturgeon population.  The FishBIO blog has more:  ” … Scientists didn’t realize that flood diversions posed such a danger to sturgeon on the Sacramento River until dozens of the fish got stuck out of the water during their spring spawning migrations in April 2011, prompting a rescue operation. Researchers from the UC Davis Department of Wildlife, Fish, & Conservation Biology, California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided to conduct a study to determine how such stranding could affect the threatened green sturgeon population in the long run, and whether rescuing the fish helped their survival or spawning success. … ”  More from the FishBIO blog:  Sturgeon Rescue

The Future of the Bay Area’s Water: A new report by SPUR (San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association) looks at the Bay Area’s future water needs in this new report that describes the region’s current water systems and supplies, the future availability of those supplies, and future water demand and options for meeting that demand, recommending which options are the most reliable and the most sustainable for the long-term.  Read more here from SPUR: The Future of Water

Aquatic research and monitoring on Lake Mead highlighted in new USGS video:  Lake Mead has good water quality, sufficient populations of fish, and it’s becoming an important habitat for birds.  A new interagency report is out on the Lake Mead’s natural resources, along with a video highlighting the collaborative efforts of local, state, and federal agencies:  “ … The video illustrates the crucial role of science in guiding management of this vital resource (now and into the future) for those who depend on the lake for drinking water, recreation, and electric power.  “We pulled together some pretty spectacular imagery, cool graphics, smart scientists, and a great narrator to tell, what I think is, a very strong story on the important role of science in managing the vital water resource that is Lake Mead,” said USGS video producer Stephen M. Wessells. … ”  Read more here:  Lake Mead Video Documents Healthy Ecosystem

The oasis of La Ciénega de Santa Clara: Sandra Postel describes her visit to the Colorado Delta, and how after traveling across barren dried out mudflats, ” … suddenly – like a mirage in the desert – an oasis appears.  Marshes of cattails and bulrushes and a maze of lagoons open up before us.  As if out of nowhere, birds come into view.  Fishing boats sit hitched to a wooden dock.  We have arrived at La Ciénega de Santa Clara, one of the largest and most significant wetlands in the entire Colorado River Basin.  It would be no exaggeration to say it is one of the most important desert wetlands in all of North America. Its 40,000 acres (16,000 hectares) of marshes and mudflats support 280 species of birds, including the elusive and endangered Yuma clapper rail. Some 300,000 migratory birds spend their winters here. … ”  Read more here:  The Accidental Wetland in the Colorado Delta

Pharmaceuticals in streams:  Researchers conducted studies in streams in three states to study the effect of six common pharmaceuticals affected streams.  The researcher explains:  “ … “We focused on the response of biofilms — which most people know as the slippery coating on stream rocks — because they’re vital to stream health. They might not look like much to the naked eye, but biofilms are complex communities composed of algae, fungi, and bacteria all living and working together. In streams, biofilms contribute to water quality by recycling nutrients and organic matter. They’re also a major food source for invertebrates that, in turn, feed larger animals like fish.” Healthy streams are slippery streams. And it turns out that antihistamines dry more than our noses. … ”  Read more here from Science Daily: Streams Stressed by Pharmaceutical Pollution

Lessons to be learned down under?  In the face of unprecedented drought, the Australian government passed major reform legislation to take over water management of the Murray-Darling Basin, the country’s main food-producing region.  ” …  Through the Act the newly created Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) had to develop a Basin Plan to set new limits on water use based on environmental needs. Specifically the new Sustainable Diversion Limits were to be developed to ‘not compromise’ environmental values and to ‘optimise’ social, environment, and economic outcomes. In 2010, the MDBA released the draft guide to the Basin Plan calling for between 3,000 and 4,000 Giga Litres of water to be returned to the environment.2 This is around 30% of total water use in the Basin. Community backlash in irrigation areas was extreme and media coverage was intense. Not long afterwards, the MDBA Chair and CEO left, and a new Minister had taken over. A new team was in charge and the MDBA starting working towards a revised Basin Plan.  After intense political speculation, the Plan was accepted by the Minister at the end of 2012. The Basin Plan is now law and is moving into implementation.  What changed? What were the key issues or processes that enabled the Basin Plan to be passed after such a problematic start? If anyone was contemplating a major water reform process, what could they learn from the Australian experience? This paper reflects on this.”  Read more here from the Global Water Forum: The key ingredients for success of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan


From XKCD: Stratigraphic Record

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