Science news and reports: Drying Sierra meadows could worsen California drought, winners and losers and warm and dry times, replanting the San Francisco Bay’s underwater meadows, and more …

Greenland Sea Ice

Sea Ice in the Greenland Sea, photo by NASA’s Earth Observatory

In science news this week, drying Sierra meadows could worsen California drought, winners and losers and warm and dry times, replanting the San Francisco Bay’s underwater meadows, severe drought causing the western US to rise like a spring uncoiling, Southwest may face a megadrought this century, ‘just right’ plant growth may make river delta’s resilient, new USGS report on dissolved solids in U.S. streams, and lastly … cast your vote in the Tournament of Absurdity
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Drying Sierra meadows could worsen California drought:Carpeting the high valleys of Yosemite and other parts of the Sierra Nevada, mountain meadows are more than an iconic part of the California landscape. The roughly 17,000 high altitude meadows help regulate the release of Sierra snow melt into rivers and streams. But climate change and California’s threaten to permanently alter these fragile and important ecosystems, according to research by Chelsea Arnold, who was awarded a doctorate in environmental systems from UC Merced in May. Her findings reveal that soil changes already are taking place that could have long-term implications for California’s water supply. … ”  Continue reading at PhysOrg here: Drying Sierra meadows could worsen California drought

Winners and losers in warm, dry times: This third, continuous dry year in California highlights that droughts are not only stressful for people, they are also concerning for fish and wildlife – at least, for the native species. However, one group poised to benefit from the current tough times is the nonindigenous species that have been introduced to California’s waterways, which are often hardier and more tolerant of adverse conditions.  Recent news stories reveal the drought is taking its toll on native fishes, particularly salmonids. Steelhead in the Napa River have reportedly experienced a sharp drop in the number of out-migrating juveniles because of warm temperatures and fish passage barriers. Salmon River spring-run Chinook are dying before spawning due to low flow and increasing temperatures. And salmon deaths have been reported in the Klamath Basin, a grim reminder of the 60,000 Chinook that died in the basin in 2002 when warming water temperatures perpetuated gill rot disease. … ”  Read more from the FishBio blog here:  Winners and losers in warm, dry times

Replanting the San Francisco Bay’s underwater meadows:  “Wildlife in the San Francisco Bay can be rather elusive. If it’s not flapping quickly by, it’s diving for a meal, cruising the ocean floor, or intermittently surfacing to breathe. In other words, it can be hard to take a closer look. That is, until you wade into an eelgrass meadow and literally feel the wildlife brush against your legs.  Beginning this summer, there will be more of those meadows to visit. In June, Kathy Boyer, an associate professor of biology at San Francisco State University’s Romberg Tiburon Center, began a nine-year effort to restore 70 acres of Zostera marina, the native eelgrass in the San Francisco Bay. The work is funded by settlement money from the Cosco Busan oil spill that emptied 58,000 gallons into the San Francisco Bay in 2007. … ”  Read more from Bay Nature here:  Replanting the San Francisco Bay’s underwater meadows

Severe drought causing the western US to rise like a spring uncoiling: The severe drought gripping the western United States in recent years is changing the landscape well beyond localized effects of water restrictions and browning lawns. Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have now discovered that the growing, broad-scale loss of water is causing the entire western U.S. to rise up like an uncoiled spring. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Severe drought causing the western US to rise like a spring uncoiling

Southwest may face megadrought this century: “Due to global warming, scientists say, the chances of the southwestern United States experiencing a decade long drought is at least 50 percent, and the chances of a “megadrought” — one that lasts over 30 years — ranges from 20 to 50 percent over the next century.  The study by Cornell University, University of Arizona and U.S. Geological Survey researchers will be published in a forthcoming issue of the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Southwest U.S. may face megadrought this century

‘Just right’ plant growth may make river deltas resilient: Research by Indiana University geologists suggests that an intermediate amount of vegetation — not too little and not too much — is most effective at stabilizing freshwater river deltas.  The study, “Optimum vegetation height and density for inorganic sedimentation in deltaic marshes,” was published online Aug. 24 by Nature Geoscience. The findings may help guide restoration of river deltas, such as those near the mouth of the Mississippi River, which are under threat as sea levels rise. ... ”  Read more from Science Daily here: ‘Just right’ plant growth may make river deltas resilient

New USGS Report:Dissolved-Solids Sources, Loads, Yields, and Concentrations in Streams of the Conterminous United States: Abstract: “Recent studies have shown that excessive dissolved-solids concentrations in water can have adverse effects on the environment and on agricultural, domestic, municipal, and industrial water users. Such effects motivated the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water Quality Assessment Program to develop a SPAtially-Referenced Regression on Watershed Attributes (SPARROW) model that has improved the understanding of sources, loads, yields, and concentrations of dissolved solids in streams of the conterminous United States.  … ”  Read more here: Dissolved-Solids Sources, Loads, Yields, and Concentrations in Streams of the Conterminous United States

And lastly …Cast Your Vote in Absurd Creature of the Week’s Tournament of Absurdity!  “We’re coming up on one whole year of Absurd Creature of the Week! So to celebrate, we’ve used a super-secret, super-complex algorithm to choose the 16 most absurd of the absurd—to pit them against each other in mortal combat (bracket is at the bottom of this post). Now, you will vote to decide which is the very most absurdest of them all. … ”  Cast your vote at WIRED Magazine here:  WIRED’s Tournament of Absurdity

Maven’s XKCD Comic Pick of the Week:

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