Science News and Reports: Phytoplankton production in the Delta, dam removal, tree ring studies, Skaggs Island restoration, the unsung smelt and more …


Phytoplankton bloom in the Berents Sea

Phytoplankton production and nutrient transformations in the Delta’s shallow water wetland habitats; Optimizing the dammed: Water supply losses and fish habitat gains from dam removal in California; Severity of California’s past droughts quantified by new streamflow reconstructions; Why distant dust storms matter to California rainfall; Skaggs Island restoration becoming a reality; The FishBio blog has an “in-seine” experience; The unsung smelt; Bottlenose dolphins move north; How river networks move across a landscape; Long term warming likely to be significant despite recent slowdown, Lawns across America

Phytoplankton production and nutrient transformations in shallow water wetland habitats:  “Under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), up to 100,000 acres of wetland restoration is proposed for the San Francisco Estuary Delta to improve habitat conditions and protect endangered species, with about 50% of this wetland area slated for the Cache Slough region. Two of the primary objectives of these wetland restoration efforts are (1) increased production and export of particulate organic carbon (POC) in the form of phytoplankton, and (2) mitigation of wastewater-derived nutrients. However, the production and export of phytoplankton and consumption of nutrients within Delta wetlands has not been explicitly verified or quantified. ... ”  Read more from the USGS California Water Science Center here:  Phytoplankton production and nutrient transformations in shallow water wetland habitats

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Journal article: Optimizing the dammed: Water supply losses and fish habitat gains from dam removal in California: From the abstract: “Dams provide water supply, flood protection, and hydropower generation benefits, but also harm native species by altering the natural flow regime and degrading aquatic and riparian habitat. Restoring some rivers reaches to free-flowing conditions may restore substantial environmental benefits, but at some economic cost. This study uses a systems analysis approach to preliminarily evaluate removing rim dams in California’s Central Valley to highlight promising habitat and unpromising economic use tradeoffs for water supply and hydropower. CALVIN, an economic-engineering optimization model, is used to evaluate water storage and scarcity from removing dams. … ”  Continue reading abstract and download pdf of the article from UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences here:  Optimizing the dammed: Water supply losses and fish habitat gains from dam removal in California 

Report: Tree Rings Reveal Drought Record – Severity of Past Droughts Quantified by New Streamflow Reconstructions:  “As part of ongoing work to improve California’s drought preparedness and better adapt to climate change, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) today released a report examining tree-ring data to help better understand historic periods of drought. The report helps develop long-term reconstructions of streamflow or precipitation for the Klamath, Sacramento, and San Joaquin river basins.  The report, prepared for DWR by researchers at the University of Arizona, is available here.  “Streamflow reconstruction from tree rings takes advantage of the great longevity and climate sensitivity of several tree species in California and Oregon,” said lead author David Meko, a University of Arizona research professor of dendrochronology. “The tree-ring patterns record unusual climate events and modes of variability that occurred before the short period of gaged streamflow.” … “  Much more on this from Department of Water Resources here:  Severity of Past Droughts Quantified by New Streamflow Reconstructions

Why distant dust storms matter to California rainfall:  “California’s recent rainstorms, as welcome as they were, haven’t been enough to save the state from a serious drought this year. The rainy season typically winds down by late March.  Scientists are trying to understand why some storms unload lots of rain and snow in California and others don’t. They’re finding it could be linked to dust storms thousands of miles away.  On a windy bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Kim Prather, an atmospheric chemist at the University of California, San Diego, eyes a bank of dark clouds in the distance.  “It’s coming in,” she says. “I think it’s the front.” … ”  Read more from KQED Science here:  Why Distant Dust Storms Matter to California Rainfall

Skaggs Island restoration becoming a reality:  “For years, Skaggs Island was a tantalizing blank in the map of San Pablo Bay wetlands restoration. Renee Spenst of Ducks Unlimited says it was “one of those places in a strange limbo.” Two-thirds of it was owned by the US Navy, which had operated a top-secret listening post there; the rest was privately-owned farmland, where the Haire family grew oat hay. Converting any of the 4,400 acres back to tidal wetland was out of the question. “The agencies doing restoration just had to work around these two parcels,” recalls San Francisco Bay Joint Venture coordinator Beth Huning. … ”  Read more from ESTUARY News here:  The Island That Came in from the Cold

The FishBio blog has an “in-seine” experience:  “We at FISHBIO believe that good science goes hand in hand with public outreach and education. So when Turlock Irrigation District biologist Pat Maloney requested our aid in giving a seining demonstration for his Salmonids in the Classroom 4-H project, we jumped at the opportunity. We met with the small group at an area below La Grange Dam and conducted a mock seining survey.  Seining is a sampling method that allows us to collect general population data on species of interest in a given area without having to use conventional trapping methods. ... ”  Find out more from the FishBio blog here:  An in-seine experience

The unsung smelt:  “While not as famous as its cousin the Delta smelt, the longfin smelt is just as imperiled locally and — if the drought continues — stands to have one of its worst years ever. “The longfin smelt responds strongly to freshwater flows,” explains conservation biologist Jon Rosenfield of The Bay Institute, an environmental nonprofit. “It could really be in trouble.” … ”  Read more from ESTUARY News here:  The Unsung Smelt

Bottlenose dolphins move north, create a research puzzle: About 60 coastal bottlenose dolphins have been spotted traveling from Southern California to the waters off Bodega Bay, pushing the northern limit of their range and leaving the scientists who study them with a mystery: Long distance migrations aren’t unusual for marine mammals, but these dolphins aren’t making seasonal swims. Instead, says Bill Keener, a marine mammal biologist at Golden Gate Cetacean Research, the dolphins seem to be traveling up and down the coast without any sort of schedule. … ”  Read more from Bay Nature here:  Bottlenose Dolphins Move North Into the Bay, Creating a Research Puzzle

Research: How river networks move across a landscape:  “Large river networks — such as those that funnel into the Colorado and Mississippi rivers — may seem to be permanent features of a landscape. In fact, many rivers define political boundaries that have been in place for centuries.  But scientists have long suspected that river networks are not as static as they may appear, and have gathered geologic and biological evidence that suggest many rivers have been “rewired,” shifting and moving across a landscape over millions of years.  Now researchers at MIT and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) have developed a mapping technique that measures how much a river network is changing, and in what direction it may be moving. Their results are published in this week’s issue of Science. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  How river networks move across a landscape

New Technique Allows Frequent Water Quality Monitoring For Suite of Pollutants: “Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new technique that uses existing technology to allow researchers and natural resource managers to collect significantly more information on water quality to better inform policy decisions.  “Right now, incomplete or infrequent water quality data can give people an inaccurate picture of what’s happening – and making decisions based on inaccurate data can be risky,” says Dr. François Birgand, an assistant professor of biological and agricultural engineering at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the work. “Our approach will help people get more detailed data more often, giving them the whole story and allowing them to make informed decisions.”  In addition to its utility for natural resource managers, the technique will also allow researchers to develop more sophisticated models that address water quality questions. … ”  Read more from North Carolina State University here:  New Technique Allows Frequent Water Quality Monitoring For Suite of Pollutants

2099Long-term warming likely to be significant despite recent slowdown:A new NASA study shows Earth’s climate likely will continue to warm during this century on track with previous estimates, despite the recent slowdown in the rate of global warming.  This research hinges on a new and more detailed calculation of the sensitivity of Earth’s climate to the factors that cause it to change, such as greenhouse gas emissions. Drew Shindell, a climatologist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, found Earth is likely to experience roughly 20 percent more warming than estimates that were largely based on surface temperature observations during the past 150 years.  Shindell’s paper on this research was published March 9 in the journal Nature Climate Change. … ”  Read more from NASA by clicking here:  Long-term warming likely to be significant despite recent slowdown

Lawns across America:Boston and Baltimore. Miami and Minneapolis. Phoenix and Los Angeles.  Fanned across the United States and in locations from coast to prairie to desert, what do these cities have in common?  How their human residents manage that icon of America, the urban lawn, or so hypothesized a team of scientists. However, when they conducted a study comparing residential landscapes in these six cities, they discovered that lawn care practices had fewer similarities than they expected. … ”  Read more from the National Science Foundation here:  Lawns across America: Is the US becoming one shade of green?

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