Science news and reports: Fall run Chinook, Ag losses from salinity in the Delta, a pea soup San Francisco Bay? and more …

winter

Land Surface Temperature Anomaly
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Fall-run Chinook: A great 2013 and a promising 2014: “Fishermen are known for being superstitious. Bringing a banana on board or carrying your fishing pole through the house before going fishing are both considered extremely bad luck. But the supposedly unlucky number ‘13 actually brought a very good year for salmon fishing: 2013 more than lived up to the hype for West Coast fall-run Chinook salmon, according to preliminary estimates from the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC). The preliminary abundance estimates for this past season were 862,500 Sacramento River Fall-run Chinook salmon (SRFC), based on returning salmon and fish harvest numbers, and an impressive 1,266,400 fall-run Chinook salmon returning to the Columbia River. … ”  Read more from the FishBio blog here:  Fall-run Chinook: A great 2013 and a promising 2014

Journal article: Agricultural Losses from Salinity in California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta:  From the abstract: “Sea level rise, large-scale flooding, and new conveyance arrangements for water exports may increase future water salinity for local agricultural production in California’s Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta. Increasing salinity in crop root zones often decreases crop yields and crop revenues. Salinity effects are nonlinear, and vary with crop choice and other factors including drainage and residence time of irrigation water. Here, we explore changes in agricultural production in the Delta under various combinations of water management, large-scale flooding, and future sea level rise. Water management alternatives include through-Delta water exports (current conditions), dual conveyance (through-Delta and a 6,700 Mm3 yr‑1 [or 7500 cfs] capacity peripheral canal or tunnel) and the flooding of five western islands with and without peripheral exports. We employ results from previous hydrodynamic simulations of likely changes in salinity for irrigation water at points in the Delta. We connect these irrigation water salinity values into a detailed agro-economic model of Delta agriculture to estimate local crop yield and farm revenue losses. … ”  Continue reading here:  Agricultural Losses from Salinity in California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Weekly Science News

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The FishBio blog on the Pacific Flyway:  “One of the joys of working outdoors in the Central Valley of California is witnessing the biannual migration of waterfowl. Our location is both a rest stop and a destination along a major migration corridor called the Pacific Flyway. Whether in the fall when many birds are heading south, or in the spring when they are headed back north, more than a billion migratory birds make their way along the Pacific Flyway each year … ”  Read more from the FishBio blog here:  On the Pacific Flyway

Is the San Francisco Bay primed to become pea soup?  “Nutrients could be the next big problem for San Francisco Bay — or make that in the Bay, because they’re already here at levels high enough to have caused trouble elsewhere. But despite its excess nitrogen and phosphorus, the Bay has been free of harmful algal blooms and oxygen-depleted dead zones for decades. Indeed, we’ve been so sure of this immunity to nutrients that most wastewater treatment plants don’t even have to remove them before discharging into the Bay. Recent chinks in the Bay’s resistance to nutrients are now alerting us, however, to get ready in case there’s worse to come. … ”  Read more here:  Bay Primed for Pea Soup?

Huge water pulse to bring Colorado River Delta back from the dead: From above it looks like a meandering yellow scar. On either side lie lush green polygons – the irrigated fields of the Mexicali valley just south of the US border, where tomatoes, cucumbers and onions grow in what should be a desert. The dusty smear running in between used to be the Colorado river. It’s been decades since it has reached the sea.  On 23 March, it will begin its journey back from the dead. In an ecological experiment unprecedented in US history, seven states and two countries have signed an agreement to unleash a huge pulse of water designed to bring the river’s dwindling delta back to life.  “We’re trying to engineer a spring flood,” says Karl Flessa, a geoscientist at the University of Arizona who is leading the team that will study how the delta responds. ... ”  Read more from New Scientist here:  Huge water pulse to bring Colorado river back from dead

Travel with Google on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon:  “You’ve used Google’s Street View to navigate unfamiliar cities. Now, you can use it to explore a river.  Today, Google, in partnership with American Rivers, is launching the Colorado River Street View. The imagery features the iconic Grand Canyon — 286 miles of the river, from Lee’s Ferry to Pearce Ferry. It marks the first time Google has used the Street View technology on a river in the U.S.  The project brings renewed attention to the wonder and beauty of the Grand Canyon, as well as the challenges facing the Colorado River’s health. American Rivers named the Colorado America’s Most Endangered River in 2013 because of outdated water management, over-allocation, and sustained drought. … ”  Read more from National Geographic here:  Google Street View Reveals Grand Canyon

When it comes to dams, is small beautiful? Or are these dams tiny but terrible?:  “Economist E.F. Schumacher popularized the phrase “small is beautiful” to evoke appropriate technology that minimized social and environmental impacts.  When it comes to hydropower, Schumacher’s aphorism is often interpreted literally and taken as an article of faith.  It’s easy to see why: small hydropower generally evokes a quaint New England mill dam, in stark contrast to the behemoths—hydro dams such as Hoover, Kariba and Three Gorges—that change the face of the earth as viewed from space.  But does small hydropower warrant its reputation as being environmentally friendly? Beyond the elegant aphorism, what’s the evidence? ... ”  Read more from the Cool Green Science blog here: Sustainable Hydropower: Are Small Dams Really Better for the Environment?

Workshop stresses improvement of stream functions:  “Stream restoration has many meanings. Some define restoration as a return to pre-disturbed conditions. Others take a broader approach and define restoration as the improvement of stream functions to a reference condition.   Rich Starr, Chesapeake Bay Field Office, and Will Harman, Stream Mechanics, led a workshop applying the Stream Functions Pyramid Framework (SFPF) to regenerative design restoration (RSC). RSC projects are a relatively new approach to stream restoration and over the past two or three years, practitioners and regulators have been struggling in communicating the benefits of these types of projects. … ”  Read more from USFWS Field Notes here: Workshop stresses improvement of stream functions

Ground Validation: Contributing to Earth Observations from Space: “The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory, launched on Feb. 27 from Tanegashima Space Center in Japan, will help advance our understanding of Earth’s water and energy cycles, improve the forecasting of extreme events that cause natural disasters, and extend current capabilities of using satellite precipitation information to directly benefit society.  The GPM mission will provide unprecedented data on rain and snowfall. The science instruments on the GPM Core Observatory will provide data that will yield the greatest clarity on rain and snow yet gathered from orbiting spacecraft. … ”  Read more from NASA here:  Ground Validation: Contributing to Earth Observations from Space

NASA Scientist fights climate change with comedy:  “Don’t get the idea that NASA climate scientist Josh Willis doesn’t think global warming is a serious problem. He does. But he’s found that teaching people about it often induces despair.  “I’ve given tons of talks about global warming and climate change in my professional life,” he said. “People would say, ‘how do you sleep at night?’” He decided that what he needed to help the message go down with less hopeless anxiety was a spoonful of sugar in the form of a Second City comedy show.  “I think helping people laugh about it kind of breaks that spell a little bit and gets people thinking and beginning to accept it,” he said, “and then, hopefully, beginning to ask, what can we do about it?” … ”  Read more from NASA here:  NASA scientist fights climate change with comedy

Maven’s XKCD Comic Pick of the Week:

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