Science news and reports: Second draft of Delta Science Plan, Native fish and tidal marsh habitat, water storage, atmospheric rivers, social sciences and science, and more!

The Delta Science Program's "By the Numbers" for August 22

The Delta Science Program's “By the Numbers” for August 22

Second draft of the Delta Science Plan now available for public comment:  The Delta Science Plan is being developed by the Delta Science Program to create a scientific infrastructure that will provide the timely and relevant scientific information to decision makers that is needed for making effective policy and management decisions.  This is the second draft of the Plan; a third and final draft of the Plan is anticipated to be presented to the Delta Stewardship Council in October.  The Delta Science Program encourages written public comments to be submitted to science@deltacouncil.ca.gov. For comments to be considered for incorporation in the Final Draft Delta Science Plan, they must be received no later than Monday, September 16, 2013.  Click here for the second draft of the Delta Science Plan.

Native Fish Utilization and Residency within Restored Tidal Marsh Habitat in North and South San Francisco Bay:  The power point from the August 19th Brown Bag Seminar is now available online, along with two reports:


Weekly Science News

Click here for more editions of Science News.

Water storage doesn't always mean surface reservoirs:  This report from the California Roundtable for Water and Food Supply highlighted at the water storage hearing emphasizes the myriad of ways water can be stored not only in groundwater basins, but in meadows in upper watersheds, floodplains and wetlands:  ” … Achieving a more responsive and flexible storage regime requires a shift in the way that we, as a society, understand, define, and use storage as an element of integrated water management.  Broadening our view of what constitutes a storage reservoir must be accompanied by a shift in our policies and programs to support a “retention” approach to storage—one that takes a comprehensive approach to holding back as much water as possible in the landscape for later use while maintaining healthy ecosystems. Water storage as described here can be an important component of a region’s Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Plan by integrating a more diverse set of resource management strategies, and consequently increasing regional self-sufficiency. … ”  Read the report here:  From Storage to Retention: Expanding California’s Options for Meeting Its Water Needs

Atmospheric rivers control weather and water resources in the West:  This video from the California Academy of Science discusses the powerful storms:

Preparing for drought and floods – Lessons Learned:  In 2012, two-thirds of the nation was gripped in a drought while in the same year, Hurricane Sandy racked up record breaking damages, but it's not just 2012:  ” … Throughout the 20th century, floods and drought caused more damage and fatalities than any other natural disasters.  The 30-year average for annual flood damages is more than $8 bill ion, with an average 95 deaths per year (National Weather Services, 2012). Similarly, drought impacts total an average $6 – 8 billion per year, with a significant proportion affecting the agriculture sector (National Drought Mitigation Center, 2010).  These damages have sweeping economic and ecological impacts on affected communities and sectors, and as they recover, the assistance they require places a great burden on the national budget. … ”  This report from American Water Resources Association highlights strategies for dealing with both – Read more here:  A Selection of Applied Strategies and Lessons Learned from around the United States

Record Rim Fire fueled by forest policies of fire suppression:  It's the Sierra's largest fire and one of the state's biggest in recorded history, but what hand have past policies played in the conflagration? ” … The blaze was just 40 acres (16 hectares) when it was discovered near a road in Stanislaus National Forest on Aug. 17, but firefighters had no chance of stopping it in the early days.  Fueled by thick forest floor vegetation in steep river canyons, it exploded to 105,620 acres (42,743 hectares) within the next two days. On its 11th day, it had surpassed 179,400 acres (72,602 hectares), becoming the seventh-largest California wildfire in records dating to 1932.  Federal forest ecologists say that historic policies of fire suppression to protect Sierra timber interests left a century's worth of fuel in the fire's path.   “That's called making the woodpile bigger,” said Hugh Safford, an ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service in California. … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here:  Squelching Sierra fires left forest ready to burn

Climate change is only going to make it worse:  ” … The Harvard team's study suggests wildfire seasons by 2050 will be about three weeks longer, up to twice as smoky, and will burn a wider area in the western states. The findings are based on a set of internationally recognized climate scenarios, decades of historical meteorological data, and records of past fire activity. … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here:  Wildfires projected to worsen with climate change

Social Sciences and Science Communication:  Are scientists really bad communicators, or is something else at play?  ”  …Dietram A. Scheufele from the University of Wisconsin-Madison argues that many natural scientists and engineers already have lots of training on how to interact with journalists and the public — and that there’s not a lot of empirical evaluations of these techniques’ effectiveness. Instead, says Schuefele, scientists could be better science communicators if they availed themselves of…scientists. Namely, social scientists, and the great body of research literature they’ve produced on how people make decisions about science and what Scheufele calls “the science-society interface. … ”  Read more from the Cool Green Science blog here: Don’t Be Such a Science Communicator

Is science communication a great illuminator of the truth?  Here's another look at the social sciences and science communication.  Do you believe that facts and ample evidence will eventually lead to consensus or at least some sort of convergence of views?  ‘Oh, how very 18th century':  ”  … According to Yale professor of law and psychology Dan Kahan in a paper published last year in the journal Nature Climate Change, with greater knowledge of science and ability in rational reasoning, people don’t reach consensus. Indeed, on topics with political overtones, such as global warming, people become more polarized with greater science literacy. … ”  Read more from Ensia here:  When Science Communication Backfires

Honorable mentions:  Researchers look at long-term alkalinity trends in East Coast rivers in Changing river chemistry affects Eastern US water supplies, a study tries to answer how much is left in the High Plains Aquifer in Study forecasts future water levels of crucial agricultural aquifer, and the challenges and opportunities facing urban water system innovation are highlighted in Can we save our urban water systems?

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