Science News and Reports: California’s pesticide regulations, coastal kelp beds, salmon-friendly seawalls, solving wicked problems, innovative carbon graphics and more

cloud rifflesCalifornia’s pesticide regulation is flawed, says new report:  Citing the approval of methyl iodide for use on strawberries, the report says the system failed in at least one case.  Methyl iodide is a neurotoxicant  known to cause lasting neurological damage:  ” … Combined with a second fumigant, chloropicrin, methyl iodide was introduced as a substitute for methyl bromide, a widely used pesticide slated for phase-out by 2015 due to its ozone-depleting properties. While the methyl iodide-chloropicrin mixture was a promising alternative in terms of performance, it raised substantial human health issues. The Department of Pesticide Regulation approved its use in December 2010, despite opposition from scientists, environmental organizations and farmworker groups.  The UCLA report, “Risk and Decision: Evaluating Pesticide Approval in California,” identifies a variety of deficits in the agency’s registration process and makes recommendations to improve pesticide regulation in California.  … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Pesticide Regulation in California Is Flawed

Delta Science News now available online:  The latest edition of the Delta Science Program’s Science News is now available online.  In this month’s edition, an article on one of the Delta Science Fellow’s project to assess Delta levee vulnerabilities,  Dr. Tracy Collier selected as Chair of the Delta Independent Science Board, the Delta Science Plan, and an update on the Delta Independent Science Board.  Read this issue of Science News here:  September Science News

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The importance of California’s coastal kelp beds: The kelp beds along California’s coast are crucial to sustaining populations of fish and invertebrates, including important species that contribute to the state’s commercial and recreational groundfish fishery.  The FishBio blog discusses how juvenile rockfish use the kelp beds for cover and food, but getting there isn’t easy:   ” … The saga begins when rockfish mothers release their offspring into the water through a process called parturition. Unlike most fishes, rockfish eggs develop internally, and the mothers bear live young. Only millimeters in length, the tiny rockfish larvae drift with the current and get transported offshore by the seasonal and variable currents associated with spring upwelling. Oil globules in their bodies provide buoyancy and nutrition for some time, and those that have by chance avoided predators thus far are soon able to swim in short bursts for a few inches. Nutrient rich water from the deep ocean drives the food web, creating phytoplankton blooms that attract small invertebrates, which in turn can fill the little rockfish stomachs – if the timing is right! … ”  Read more here:  Kelp Kindergarten

Innovative project to redesign Seattle’s seawall to be salmon-friendly:  In the early 1900s, two-thirds of Seattle’s shoreline habitat was destroyed to build a seawall.  The seawall enabled waterfront development, but it also decimated salmon populations by up to 90%:  ” … Now, a major urban reconstruction project, including the replacement of the seawall, offers hope for the salmon by creating a more hospitable migratory corridor.  “We needed to replace the seawall. It’s the face of our waterfront,” says Jessica Murphy, project manager of Waterfront Seattle. “This is a unique opportunity to replace habitat that was lost.” … ”  The plan includes glass blocks in the sidewalks to allow light to pass through to the water below, riparian vegetation, and a bench around the seawall to create shallow habitat.  Read more from Quest here:  The Seattle Seawall Project: Transforming Salmon Habitat

Columbia River dams moderate impacts from climate change:  While we’re up in the Pacific Northwest, a new study suggest that dams along the Columbia River provide “ecological and engineering resilience” to climate change in the river basin:  ” … The researchers found that the peak of the annual snowmelt runoff has shifted to a few days earlier, but the downstream impacts were negligible because reservoir management counteracts these effects.  “The dams are doing what they are supposed to do, which is to use engineering – and management – to buffer us from climate variability and climate warming,” said Julia Jones, an Oregon State University hydrologist and co-author on the study. “The climate change signals that people have expected in stream flow haven’t been evident in the Columbia River basin because of the dams and reservoir management. That may not be the case elsewhere, however.” … ”  Dams provide resilience to Columbia River basin from climate change impacts

Solving wicked problems in a SNAP:  The Cool Green Science blog discusses how Science for Nature and People (SNAP), a collaboration by The Nature Conservancy, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the National Center for Ecological Synthesis and Analysis (NCEAS), will make a huge difference for nature and people across the planet.  We need more than just smart people coming together to focus on a question and try to answer it together, at the conclusion disbanding with little more than a paper or a report to show for it, writes Peter Kareiva:  ” … The problems conservation and human development face today require much, much more.  We need teams of experts to take on the urgent, complicated questions whose answers could benefit tens of millions — questions such as where natural habitats could make a difference in reducing risk for coastal populations across the globe.  We need those teams to provide rapid answers to those questions — inside 24 months.  And we need their findings not to sit on dusty shelves, but to be deployed as widely as possible in the real world.  Meeting these challenges is SNAP’s mandate. … ”  Read more from the Cool Green Science blog here:  Beyond Magic: Why SNAP Can Help Us Solve Wicked Problems

USGS identifies priorities for ambient water and sediment quality:  A new study by the USGS prioritizes 2450 chemicals, based on their likelihood of adverse effects on human health or aquatic life, combined with information on the likelihood of being found in the environment.  ” … “The information and approaches described in this study can be used by water resource managers to develop improved strategies that focus limited monitoring dollars on chemicals that, if present at high enough concentrations, can adversely affect human or ecosystem health,” said Lisa Olsen, USGS hydrologist who led the study. … ”  Read more from the USGS here:  New USGS Approach Identifies Priorities for Ambient Water and Sediment Quality Monitoring

Will better graphics to make carbon pollution more visible motivate people to combat climate change?  A new business, Carbon Visuals, is a business that produces unique and innovative graphics to help people better understand carbon emissions.  Holly Doremus at the Legal Planet writes:  ” … I’m fascinated by what it takes to get people to connect emotionally to a problem like climate change. I applaud Carbon Visuals for its efforts. It seems to me that their visualizations make two of three necessary points. First, they do a great job of showing the sheer scale of carbon pollution. The picture of the Empire State Building disappearing under a single day’s carbon emissions is hard to ignore. They have others showing CO2 in the atmosphere as a quilt layer, getting thicker and thicker with time. It’s astonishing to me how much we’ve changed the composition of the atmosphere in my lifetime, and Carbon Visuals has some pretty arresting ways of making that visible. … ”  Continue reading at the Legal Planet here:  If we could see it, would we stop it?

Blog honorable mentions:  Mark Lubell at UC Davis’s Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior blogs about network science, Ensia has a link to a free book available on the internet, Conservation Biology for all, and if you’re looking to unload your CDs, you can use them to clean sewage. (Me, I’m still trying to figure out what to do with two crates of records!)

Today’s photo:  Guadalupe Island, off the coast of Baja California, creates a vortex that affects the clouds.  For more information, click here.

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