The Delta Science Program's "By the Numbers" report

Science News and Reports: Reconciling reality for California’s streams, groundwater and climate change, San Joaquin salmon hatchery, predataion report, a deluge of data in the Dutch delta and more!

The Delta Science Program's "By the Numbers" report
The Delta Science Program’s “By the Numbers” report

If it’s Thursday, it’s science day, regardless of the government shutdown …

Reconciling the new reality for California’s streams:  California’s altered streams support ‘novel’ ecosystems, which are defined as ecosystems that are dominated by new combinations of organisms and species in highly altered habitats.  Most of these aquatic systems are so altered that restoring them to original conditions is not possible.  Managers need to recognize this reality, says a new essay by Peter Moyle, and act accordingly:   ” … The concept of reconciliation ecology is a practical approach to living with the new reality; it includes actively guiding ecosystem change, as illustrated by Putah Creek, Cosumnes River, Eel River and Six Bit Gulch in California. The first three waterways are all highly altered and managed with varying degrees of success to favor desired aquatic species, whereas Six Bit Gulch experiences such extreme conditions that the original ecosystem is still largely intact. The examples illustrate that most aquatic ecosystems in California are so highly altered that attempting to restore them to an earlier condition or stable state is largely not possible. Where more or less intact systems persist, it is usually because extreme environmental conditions restrict both alien invaders and human use in small watersheds. … ”  Read the essay here:  Novel Aquatic Ecosystems: The New Reality For Streams In California And Other Mediterranean Climate Regions

California’s groundwater and climate change:  California has yet to address the impacts of climate change on the state’s limited groundwater resources.  Recently, University of California faculty and researchers met with the Governor’s Office of Planning & Research to identify key concerns and actions that need to be taken .  In order to best develop solutions, it’s important that the that everyone agree on some basic principles.  With that in mind, the group developed 10 consensus statements on groundwater.  You can read them here at the California Water Blog:  Groundwater and climate change in California

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Draft Environmental Impact Report on San Joaquin salmon hatchery now available:  The Department of Fish and Wildlife has released a draft environmental impact report (DEIR) for the new Salmon Conservation and Research Facility (SCARF) which will aid in the restoration of salmon runs in the San Joaquin River: ” … The proposed site of the new Salmon Conservation and Research Facility (SCARF) is located in Friant in Fresno County and adjacent to the San Joaquin River approximately 1.1 miles downstream of Friant Dam. The project, which is part of the San Joaquin River Restoration Project (SJRRP), proposes to release juvenile salmon from the facilities starting in 2015.  The DEIR describes how salmon would be collected and bred, using modern genetic management techniques to ensure genetic diversity that will produce traits that are beneficial in the wild, while minimizing impacts to the donor salmon populations. It also contains information on planned fisheries management within the plan area, among other information on environmental impacts. … ”  The public comment period on the EIR closes on November 21.  Read more from the Department of Fish and Wildlife here:  CDFW Releases Draft Environmental Impact Report on Planned Salmon Conservation Hatchery

New culvert will improve fish passage in Mormon Slough:  The FishBio blog biologists were out in force, removing fish as the a small section of the slough is dried up to allow for reconstruction of a culvert at a low-flow road crossing: ” … The old crossing is being removed and replaced by three large, bottomless box culverts with a concrete overlay. Old, jagged concrete riprap will be removed from the channel bottom and replaced with rounded cobble and gravel. The new road crossing and reshaped channel bottom should provide easier passage for migrating salmonids. … ”  Read more from the Fishbio blog here:  No fish left behind

A deluge of data in the Dutch Delta:  The Dutch government spends about $9.5 billion a year on managing water and the extensive network of dykes or levees, canals, locks, harbours, dams, rivers, storm-surge barriers, sluices and pumping stations.  With 55% of the population living under the threat of flooding, the Dutch have a developed a sophisticated water-management system and are constantly monitoring and modelling to understand and anticipate adverse events.  Their system generates data – lots of it, but how to make sense of it?  “ … The trouble is, the amount of data is growing without any control, says Feron, because newer, cheaper sensor technologies are being added to conventional data-collection methods.  “We’re seeing a shift in thinking. We used to have well-controlled monitoring programmes for single-purpose, strict-governance, high-quality data” says Feron. “We’re seeing a shift to open, flexible, multi-purpose, multi-sensor type of monitoring. This shift gives an exponential shift in data, with a mixture of low- and high-quality and multi-purpose data.  You can put very cheap sensors in your infrastructure and these sensors will spit out huge amounts of data. In the operational water-management processes, we’re not used to getting these new types of data, which may be lower quality than we’re used to, but give you a wider geographic view.” … ”  So the Dutch have embarked on a year long Digital Delta project to help them better understand the data being generated and how it can be put to use.  Read more here from ZD Net:  Big data deluge: How Dutch water is trying to turn the tide

Colorado River mapping tool ends at the border:  A little closer to home, Jennifer Pitt over at National Geographic’s Newswatch blog checks out the USGS Streamers tool, and finds a few surprises:  ” … On the Streamers website, I pointed to the headwaters of the Colorado River in Rocky Mountain National Park and clicked on “trace downstream” to see the river’s route.  What I saw was a river course stopping abruptly at the Mexican border.  In many ways this mapping flaw illustrates why the Colorado’s delta was allowed to deteriorate so badly:  a federal government that sees borders as the limit of its responsibility is one that will not manage holistically. … ”  Another surprise: the tool shows the Colorado River flowing into the Salton Sea, which is in some ways rather spot on …  read more here:  The Missing Colorado River Delta: Rivers, Borders, and Maps  The USGS Streamers Tool, oddly enough, is still online despite the shutdown.  You can check it out here:  Streamer Tool

Game theory the way to control climate change, researchers say:  The IPCC report brought home a sobering message:  climate change is real and we must do something to stop it.  The problem, however, is that world consensus on what to do about it has proven impossible to reach.  Now a research Portuguese team has the solution:  ” … Vítor Vasconcelos, Francisco Santos and Jorge M. Pacheco from the ATP-group at Lisbon used game theory – a branch of mathematics that studies social interactions – to look into the problem, and found that the key was “scale”. Their work showed that cooperation for climate control will only be possible if approached at regional or domestic level, with local institutions sanctioning those that do not collaborate (free-riders). But not just that, as Pacheco, the team leader explains ” Our most striking result was to find that punishment by global institutions – which at the present situation would be the most logical choice – is almost like applying no punishment. ” The data supports what many believe: that polycentric governance (with many centres of authority) is more effective solving global problems than a central international authority. The findings calls for an urgent revision of the current approaches to climate agreements, and could have not come at a more relevant time with the IPCC now reunited to decide on measures to reach climate change mitigation. … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here:  ‘Punish thy neighbor’: Game theory shows the way to control climate change

Science honorable mentions:  A short article on warmer oceans raising mercury levels in fish from Science Daily, Quest looks at the appalling amount of food waste in this country, and Sandra Postel says there’s more to water stress that meets the eye.

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