Science and report notes: Global warming, flood report, drones and fishes, the National Water Census, and more

Climate graphicMore moisture in a warmer atmosphere will make the most extreme precipitation events even more intense:  A newly published study led by NOAA found that the extra moisture dominates all other factors and leads to notable increases in the rates of intense precipitation:  “The study also shows a 20-30 percent expected increase in the maximum precipitation possible over large portions of the Northern Hemisphere by the end of the 21st century if greenhouse gases continue to rise at a high emissions rate.  “We have high confidence that the most extreme rainfalls will become even more intense, as it is virtually certain that the atmosphere will provide more water to fuel these events,” said Kenneth Kunkel, Ph.D., senior research professor at CICS-NC and lead author of the paper. … ”  Read more here from Science Direct:  A Warming World Will Further Intensify Extreme Precipitation Events, Research Shows

DWR & the Army Corps release new flood report:  1 out of every 5 Californians live in a flood plain, and every one of the state’s 58 counties has declared at least one flood disaster in the last 20 years.  While improvements have been made, much more needs to be done, says a new report released by the two agencies:  ” … A catastrophic flood event in California is only a matter of time. Preventing the consequences of disasters is a more cost-effective and responsible strategy than recovering from disasters. California’s Flood Future presents a thoughtful look at the issues involved,and recommendations for the path forward. … ”  Read more here:  California’s Flood Future: Recommendations for Managing the State’s Flood Risk

Climate graphics:  The Water Wired blog has stumbled on some great graphics used with the UNEP Global Environment Outlook report – the picture displayed with this post is only one of them.  See more here:  (Info)Graphics: @UNEP GEO-4 Report    And while we’re on the subject of climate graphics, Peter Gleick has three more for you over at the Significant Figures blog: Three iconic graphs showing the climate fix we’re in

Drones – not just for war anymore: They are now being used to monitor fish and wildlife, writes the FishBIO blog:  ” … Researchers, managers, and conservation groups are outfitting the vehicles with cameras and sensors to count animals, watch for poaching, and collect other information in areas where it may be too costly, difficult, or dangerous for people to venture. Marine scientists have used autonomous and remotely operated vehicles for decades to explore and monitor the ocean, documenting fish and other sea life in their cold, dark, and deep habitats that prove inhospitable to humans. Now terrestrial and freshwater researchers are also turning to remote technology to cover more ground. … ”  Read more here from the FishBIO blog:  Eye in the sky: drones monitor fish and wildlife

The diversity of California and Nevada Fishes:  The FishBIO blog reports from the California-Nevada Chapter of the American Fisheries Society’s recent conference in Davis.  The plenary speakers included Dr. Peter Moyle; topics included the history, status, restoration, conservation, and management of California inland fishes, desert fishes, coastal salmonids, and the world’s large-bodied fishes. Read more here from the FishBIO blog:  Diversity of California and Nevada fishes

Department of the Interior’s final environmental analysis chooses removal of the four dams as the preferred alternative:  Next step is Congressional approval:  ” … “The EIS released today, considered in combination with the previously released Overview Report, represents the most comprehensive scientific, engineering, and environmental evaluation of facilities removal ever undertaken in the Klamath Basin,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “The preferred alternative finds that removal of the four facilities and implementation of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement are important components of a durable, long-term solution for local communities and tribes to advance the water and native fishery resources of the Klamath Basin.” … ” More here from DOI:  Interior Department Releases Final Environmental Analysis on Klamath River Dam Removal

A use for irrigation wastewater:  In the Central Valley,some  farmers have been keeping their wastewater in evaporation ponds on their land, taking up to 10% of their land out of the production.  The Central Valley Business Times reports on a new solution being advanced by the Agricultural Research Service:  ” … They have shown that it is possible to use the spent wastewater for irrigating salt-tolerant forage grown on marginally productive saline and “sodic” soils. Sodic soils contain large quantities of sodium, which is one of the minerals found in salt compounds. Saline soils are contaminated with salt compounds at levels that significantly limit plant growth.   This gives farmers a viable alternative to simply storing the spent wastewater until it evaporates — and they are able to reclaim degraded soils and produce livestock forage in the bargain. … ”  Read more here from the Central Valley Business Times:  Irrigation wastewater may be answer to damaged soils

Progress being made on the National Water Census:  The Department of the Interior recently released a report on USGS’s progress in developing a national water census which describes the ‘water budget’ approach being taken.  ” … “It’s true in other fields and no less so for water: you can’t manage what you don’t measure,” said Anne Castle, Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Water and Science. “The Water Census will quantify water supply and demand consistently across the entire country, fill in gaps in existing data, and make that information available to anyone who needs it—and that represents a huge step forward on the path toward water sustainability.” … ”  Read more here:  Interior Releases Progress Report on National Water Census

With 2 billion more people expected to be joining us here on the planet, it isn’t going to be just about feeding them:  Not that producing enough food for them won’t be an issue, but consider this:  ” … We will have a New York City-sized population added to the middle class every second month. Their purchasing power is projected to be more than $60 trillion by 2040. Most of this growth will be in Asia. The expanding middle class will demand food that doesn’t just fill the belly, but food that’s appetizing, safe and nourishing, convenient to prepare and available in unlimited quantities at reasonable prices. Producing food for a middle class that will number more than 5 billion within 30 years will strain existing technology for clean water, sustainable energy and other resources.” … ”  Read more here from Science Direct:  Population Boom Poses Interconnected Challenges of Energy, Food, Water

Model predicts population growth will level off mid-century:  Since I depressed you with the previous item, think of this as the good news.  The UN estimates that population at 2100 will be somewhere between 6.2 billion and 15.8 billion, and a new population model seems to agree:  ” … A mathematical model developed by a team from the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) and the CEU-San Pablo University, both from Spain, seems to confirm the lower estimate, in addition to a standstill and even a slight drop in the number of people on Earth by the mid-21st century. … ”  Read more here:  A Model Predicts That the World’s Populations Will Stop Growing in 2050

And in other notes …  the USGS’s Science Feature discusses their efforts to control invasive species in ballast water, the Water SISWeb has what looks like an interesting paper on involving stakeholders in planning processes that requires a subscription or a small fee, and the Inyo Register is reporting that LADWP is once again pursuing solar development at Owens Lake. 

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