Science news and reports: Groundwater depletion and earthquakes in the Central Valley, GPS and water weight, salmonid life cycle monitoring, El Nino conditions forming, reducing nitrogen pollution and more …


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Groundwater depletion may cause earthquakes, says study:  “Winter rains and summer groundwater pumping in California’s Central Valley make the Sierra Nevada and Coast Ranges sink and rise by a few millimeters each year, creating stress on the state’s earthquake faults that could increase the risk of a quake.   Gradual depletion of the Central Valley aquifer because of groundwater pumping also raises these mountain ranges by a similar amount each year — about the thickness of a dime — with a cumulative rise over the past 150 years of up to 15 centimeters (6 inches), according to calculations by a team of geophysicists. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here: California mountains rise as groundwater depleted in state’s Central Valley: May trigger small earthquakes

NASA Uses GPS to Find Sierra Water Weight:For the first time, NASA scientists have used GPS to find the total weight of winter snowpack and soil moisture in California’s Sierra Nevada. The new results complement other satellite measurements and could provide a reality check for computer models used to estimate the state’s water and snowpack.  A team led by Donald Argus of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., studied data from 1,069 GPS research sites in California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, extending back to 2006. For each site, they averaged the difference in the ground level between October 1 (the end of the dry season) and April 1 of each year, when the snow is likely to be at its greatest weight. They then calculated how much water would be required to create the observed height changes. … ”  Read more from NASA here: NASA Uses GPS to Find Sierra Water Weight

Call for abstracts for the 8th Biennial Bay-Delta Science Conference:  “The Biennial Bay-Delta Science Conference is a forum for presenting technical analyses and results relevant to the Delta Science Program’s mission to provide the best possible, unbiased, science-based information for water and environmental decision-making in the Bay-Delta system. The goal of the conference is to provide new information and syntheses to the broad community of scientists, engineers, resource managers, and stakeholders working on Bay-Delta issues. The organizers of this 8th Science Conference are seeking presentations that support this goal. … ”  The deadline for abstracts is June 11.  The conference is scheduled for the end of October.  Click here for more information.

Delta Independent Science Board tour, part 2:  “This is the second part of the Delta Independent Science Board’s tour of the South Delta. In the prior article, places visited included the Port of Stockton, Lathrop’s River Islands development and the Head of Old River Temporary Fish Barrier. This report will include Paradise Cut, Clifton Court Forebay and UC Davis Fish Conservation and Culture Lab.  Paradise Cut earns its name from being a beautiful slough that acts as a spillway for the San Joaquin River, across the freeway from the River Islands development near Lathrop. ... ”  Continue reading at the River News-Herald here:  Delta Independent Science Board tour, part 2

Inside the matrix for salmonid life cycle monitoring:  Coastal salmonid monitoring can be very challenging due to the typical environmental characteristics of coastal streams, as well as the migration characteristics of coastal salmon and steelhead. Since 2011, FISHBIO has been working with the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz under the direction of Sean Hayes of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to develop a decision matrix tool for identifying the most suitable salmonid life cycle monitoring station techniques at a given site. The recently completed decision matrix focuses on Santa Cruz County’s Scott Creek as a case study, and can be applied to other coastal coho and steelhead streams. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Fisheries Restoration Grant Program funded the creation of the decision matrix, which is now available along with a final report. The report outlines how to use the matrix, and provides examples based on the Scott Creek case study. … ”  Read more from the FishBio blog here: Inside the matrix for salmonid life cycle monitoring

Startups aim to solve California water woes:  “California’s drought is far from over — but high-tech companies are stepping in to help.  The state is facing its driest year in decades, following an unusually rain-free winter. California’s central valley, the fruit and nut basket of the world, is suffering the consequences. In response, startups are offering solutions such as drones, aerial imagery and data analytics to help deliver water to only the parts of farmers’ fields that need it. ... ”  Read more from Mashable here:  Startups Aim to Solve California’s Water Woes

El nino conditions developing:  Dang, it looks like I’m going to have to learn that special character now …. “Data from ocean-observing satellites and other ocean sensors indicate that El Niño conditions appear to be developing in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Conditions in May 2014 bear some similarities to those of May 1997, a year that brought one of the most potent El Niño events of the 20th century.  During an El Niño, easterly trade winds in the Pacific falter and allow giant waves of warm water—known as Kelvin waves—to drift across from the western Pacific toward South America. Surface waters in the central and eastern Pacific become significantly warmer than normal, altering weather patterns and affecting fisheries along the west coasts of the Americas. El Niño also can have a significant influence on weather and climate far from the tropics. … ”  Read more from Earth Observatory here: Is El Niño Developing?

Nitrogen pollution could be halved, says study: The most important fertilizer for producing food is, at the same time, one of the most important risks for human health: nitrogen. Chemical compounds containing reactive nitrogen are major drivers of air and water pollution worldwide, and hence of diseases like asthma or cancer. If no action is taken, nitrogen pollution could rise by 20 percent by 2050 in a middle-of-the-road scenario, according to a study now published by scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Ambitious mitigation efforts, however, could decrease the pollution by 50 percent. The analysis is the very first to quantify this. Ambitious mitigation efforts, however, could decrease the pollution by 50 percent. The analysis is the very first to quantify this. ... ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Dangerous nitrogen pollution could be halved

Meeting the elevation needs of a nation:  “Want to know how elevation will benefit your state? The USGS National Geospatial Program is advancing the 3D Elevation Program, known as 3DEP, in response to the growing need for high-quality three-dimensional representations of the Nation’s natural and constructed features. 3DEP uses modern technology to systematically collect high-density light detection and ranging (lidar) elevation data over the U.S. and interferometric synthetic aperture radar (ifsar) data above Alaska where cloud cover and remote locations preclude the use of lidar for much of the State.  “Looking at lidar is like looking at the world through 3D glasses” said Kevin Gallagher, the USGS Associate Director for Core Science Systems. “Phenomena that were once obscured are suddenly fully evident in rich color and detail. As you might expect, the applications of such new and transformational data are growing rapidly, from civil engineering, precision agriculture and flood inundation modeling, to forest management, intelligent vehicle navigation and emergency response. A national dataset of such data will drive innovation, transform government and industry, and stimulate the economy.” …  Read more from the USGS here:  Meeting the Elevation Needs of the Nation

Coral Reefs Soften Ocean’s Fury for Millions of Coastal Dwellers: “Call up in your mind the classic travel ad picture of a tropical island: turquoise waves lapping gently at a white sand beach, palm fronds waving in a mild breeze.  Now direct your view off shore. See that line of white foam, just shy of the horizon? That’s the crest of a coral reef that extracts over 95% of the energy from incoming waves. Without it, the waves wouldn’t lap so gently.  Coral reefs get lots of attention for the biodiversity they harbor — and for the threats posed by warming and acidifying oceans — but there’s been very little work done on the value they offer to coastal communities worldwide.  … ”  Read more from the Cool Green Science blog here:  Coral Reefs Soften Ocean’s Fury for Millions of Coastal Dwellers

West Antarctic glacier loss appears unstoppable: A new study by researchers at NASA and the University of California, Irvine, finds a rapidly melting section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet appears to be in an irreversible state of decline, with nothing to stop the glaciers in this area from melting into the sea.  The study presents multiple lines of evidence, incorporating 40 years of observations that indicate the glaciers in the Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica “have passed the point of no return,” according to glaciologist and lead author Eric Rignot, of UC Irvine and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The new study has been accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. … ”  Read more from NASA here:  West Antarctic glacier loss appears unstoppable

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