Science news and reports: Fish, floodplains, and economics, winning apps, warmer springs and more

yolo bypass
Photo by Carson Jeffres

Feeding fish on floodplains in the Yolo Bypass:  Besides protecting Sacramento from flooding, providing habitat for migratory birds, and being a productive area for rice farming, the Yolo Bypass is adding another item to the list:  ” … The bypass trio of farms, floods and fowl has harmonized successfully for more than 70 years, with management for ducks increasing in recent decades. Now, researchers are examining the possibilities of forming a quartet. Recent studies indicate the bypass would make a fabulous salmon nursery at relatively little cost to Yolo County’s farming. … ”  More from the California Water Blog here:  A sweet spot for farms and fish on a floodplain

Impacts of floodplain restoration in the Yolo Bypass:  Here’s the report referenced in the blog post above:  ” … This report provides a quantitative framework for assessment of agricultural impacts of flooding in the Yolo Bypass consistent with initial proposals in the Biological Opinion RPA and BDCP Conservation Measure 2 (CM2). Since the RPA and CM2 are not fully developed, this report evaluates 12 possible scenarios and describes a range of possible impacts on agriculture and the Yolo County economy. Of the 12 scenarios evaluated, 10 scenarios assume annual inundation through a specified date (RPA scenarios) and 2 scenarios assume opportunistic inundation associated with natural overtopping of the Fremont Weir (CM2 scenarios). … ”  Read the report here from UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences:  Agricultural and Economic Impacts of Yolo Bypass Fish Habitat Proposals

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Looking for poster abstracts for the 11th Biennial State of the San Francisco Estuary Conference which is coming up in October:  This year’s theme is “20/20 Vision: Past Reflections, Future Directions.”  More information here:  Call for poster abstracts

Don’t set that fish free:  Goldfish are now found in most of California’s freshwater habitats, released by well-meaning people, says the Fishbio blog:  ” … Although bright and unusual additions to the fish community, goldfish fortunately have not exerted significant damage on native species or habitats compared to other introduced fishes (McGinnis 2006). However, some ornamental species with voracious appetites have a dangerous potential to invade and alter new environments. Researchers at UC Davis released a report earlier this year that found 9 ornamental marine species have successfully colonized California waters. … ”  Read more from the Fishbio blog here: Don’t dump that fish

Sometimes a good illustration says more than a high-tech computer visual representation:  Advancements in technology can create visual representations that can convey a lot of information, but the new high-tech pictures aren’t always easy to understand, especially for the general public. The Cool Green Science blog writes:  ” … For months I had been explaining the restoration designs to people using the computer-aided design (CAD) produced by engineers.  Because I could visualize the design clearly in these drawings, I assumed others could as well.  However, as we got further into the design and developed more detailed CAD drawings I started to see confusion, miscommunication, and sometimes a complete misunderstanding of the project details.  People wanted to visualize what the restoration project would look like. So I decided to illustrate our plans.  … ”  See the results and read more from the Cool Green Science blog here:  Scientific Illustration: More than Pretty Pictures

New winning science applications from the USGS:  The USGS has announced the winners of the “App-lifying USGS Earth Science Data” Challenge, a contest to find applications that present selected USGS datasets in innovative ways.  The winners are a taxonomic information app that allows the user to view species-specific taxonomic data, invasive status, phylogenetic relationships, and species occurrence records, and a species comparison tool that allows users to explore the USGS Gap Analysis Program habitat distribution and/or range of two species concurrently.  Read more here:  Where the Wild Things Are (and How They’re Related)

Warmer springs mean 20% less snow in the Rockies:  A new study from the USGS dug into the details, quantifing the different influences of winter temperature, spring temperature, and precipitation:  ” … “Each year we looked at temperature and precipitation variations and the amount of water contained within the snowpack as of April,” said USGS scientist Greg Pederson, the lead author of the study. “Snow deficits were consistent throughout the Rockies due to the lack of precipitation during the cool seasons during the 1930s – coinciding with the Dust Bowl era.  From 1980 on, warmer spring temperatures melted snowpack throughout the Rockies early, regardless of winter precipitation. The model in turn shows temperature as the major driving factor in snowpack declines over the past thirty years.” … ”  Read more here:  Warmer Springs Causing Loss of Snow Cover throughout the Rocky Mountains

Carbon dioxide levels reach 400 ppm:  On May 9th, levels touched 400 ppm for the first time, notes Peter Gleick:  ” … Before humans started burning fossil fuels, they were around 280 parts per million.  The last time atmospheric CO2 was at 400 parts per million was during the ancient Pliocene Era, three to five million years ago, and humans didn’t exist. … ”  Read more from the Significant Figures blog here:  The Last Time Atmospheric CO2 was at 400 parts per million Humans Didn’t Exist

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