Science news and reports: Big data, counting fish, dam removal, mercury in tidal wetlands, healthy forests and more …

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Intel Tackles Water Supply Problems With Big Data:With the majority of Big Data conversation focused on solving business problems it is easy to lose sight of the fact that the ultimate opportunity of Big Data is solving big problems — problems that affect our entire society. One of them is hunger and the mix of Big Data and agriculture has the potential to arm companies and governments to tackle it more effectively than has ever been possible.  One of the companies looking at ways food-supply problems can be addressed with Big Data is Intel. The company currently has two research projects aimed at using Big Data to solve the world’s food and farming challenges. One looks at irrigation and the other at snow mapping in the Sierras. … ”  Read more from Data Center Knowledge here (online industry publication):  Intel Tackles Water Supply Problems With Big Data

Seeing what lies below:  “Counting migratory fish, studying fish behavior, and visually assessing aquatic habitat can typically only occur in environments with clear and shallow water. In more turbid streams such as the Sacramento River, seeing what’s below the waterline often requires the use of sophisticated sonar technology. Dual-Frequency Identification Sonar (DIDSON) has been used extensively to estimate abundances of migratory fishes (mostly salmon) with relatively high accuracy; to remotely measure fish swimming past the camera; and to study fish behavior under a variety of conditions. Murky waters pose no obstacle to this camera because it relies on pulsed sound waves rather than light to generate images of fish and the underwater landscape. As a consequence, sonar technology has become a valuable tool for fish and habitat surveys when environmental conditions limit traditional approaches. ... ”  Read more from the FishBio blog here: Seeing what lies below

Dam removal and anadromous salmonid (Oncorhynchus spp.) conservation in California:  “Dam removal is often proposed for restoration of anadromous salmonid populations, which are in serious decline in California. However, the benefits of dam removal vary due to differences in affected populations and potential for environmental impacts. Here, we develop an assessment method to examine the relationship between dam removal and salmonid conservation, focusing on dams that act as complete migration barriers. Specifically, we (1) review the effects of dams on anadromous salmonids, (2) describe factors specific to dam removal in California, (3) propose a method to evaluate dam removal effects on salmonids, (4) apply this method to evaluate 24 dams, and (5) discuss potential effects of removing four dams on the Klamath River. Our flexible rating system can rapidly assess the likely effects of dam removal, as a first step in the prioritization of multiple dam removals. … ”  Continue reading from the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences here:  Dam removal and anadromous salmonid (Oncorhynchus spp.) conservation in California

Mercury Dynamics in a San Francisco Estuary Tidal Wetland: Assessing Dynamics Using In Situ Measurements: Abstract: “We used high-resolution in situ measurements of turbidity and fluorescent dissolved organic matter (FDOM) to quantitatively estimate the tidally driven exchange of mercury (Hg) between the waters of the San Francisco estuary and Browns Island, a tidal wetland. Turbidity and FDOM—representative of particle-associated and filter-passing Hg, respectively—together predicted 94 % of the observed variability in measured total mercury concentration in unfiltered water samples (UTHg) collected during a single tidal cycle in spring, fall, and winter, 2005–2006. Continuous in situ turbidity and FDOM data spanning at least a full spring-neap period were used to generate UTHg concentration time series using this relationship, and then combined with water discharge measurements to calculate Hg fluxes in each season. … ”  Continue reading the abstract and download the article here: Mercury Dynamics in a San Francisco Estuary Tidal Wetland: Assessing Dynamics Using In Situ Measurements

Mayfly meal ticket:Benthic macroinverebrates are an important source of food for many of the aquatic species found in our river systems, as we described in a previous post, (see Focus on Fish Food). Mayflies, of the order Ephemeroptera, are of particular importance as they provide food for many different species throughout their entire life cycle. They make good eating partly because they are so abundant, as there are roughly 700 described species found in North America alone. The average mayfly life cycle is completed within the span of a year, which also makes them an ideal species for restoration monitoring programs because their populations usually persist for substantial periods of time  … ”  Read more from the FishBio blog here: Mayfly meal ticket

Researcher develops shelters that allow fish populations to find refuge from dam water release: Hydraulic power generation endangers fish downstream of dams due to reservoirs and the release of large amounts of water. The increasing energy demand could further intensify this phenomenon. A doctoral student at EPFL has developed shelters that allow fish populations to find refuge during periods of intense fluctuation. …In collaboration with EAWAG, Jean-Marc Ribi, a doctoral student in the Laboratory of Hydraulic Constructions (LCH) and professor at the College of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg, has devised a way to protect young trout. He developed recesses to be installed in the banks of channeled rivers. These deep lateral alcoves, each roughly 15 meters long, provide tranquility for their guests. Installed in a staggered configuration along one kilometer downstream of dams, these shelters could save endangered wildlife. “Taking an interest in the well-being of the fish might seem trivial, but fish provide a valuable indicator of water quality.” ... ”  Read more from the PhysOrg here:  Researcher develops shelters that allow fish populations to find refuge from dam water release

Source water protection through healthy forests:  “G. Tracy Mehan III of The Cadmus Group, one of the sharpest knives in the drawer when it comes to water issues and former EPA Assistant Administrator for Water, gave this presentation yesterday at the AWWA ACE14 in Boston, MA. It is titled, ‘Source Water Protection Through Healthy Forests’, pursuant to his work with the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities. He kindly provided me with the presentation and permission to post it.  Included in the presentation is the ‘AWWA 2013 Source Water Protection Survey’ by Adam T. Carpenter of AWWA.” Download a copy at the Water Wired blog here: G. Tracy Mehan Presentation AWWA ACE14: ‘Source Water Protection Through Healthy Forests’

New formula assigns dollar value to natural resources:How do you decide whether to use the resource now or conserve it as natural capital for the future?  In a study published recently in the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, researchers from Arizona State University and Yale University have developed a first-of-its-kind, interdisciplinary equation to estimate the current monetary value of natural resources such as fish stocks, groundwater or forests in the United States. In assigning natural capital monetary value, the approach will have widespread implications for policymakers and various stakeholders, and will also advocate for the creation of robust asset markets for natural capital, a much-needed advance. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here: New formula assigns dollar value to natural resources

Maven’s XKCD Comic Pick of the Week:

Photo credit:  Ice was still in Lake Superior in May – the satellite shot was taken just a few weeks ago.  Read more about it here:  Swimming with Ice Cubes

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