Science news and reports: Ringing in a new water year, California drought and climate change, Alameda Creek, Antioch dunes, habitat issue paper, communicating research results through comics and more …

Nordic lightsIn science news this week, Ringing in a new water year, Causes of California drought linked to climate change, New report finds human-caused climate change increased severity of 2013 heat waves in Asia, Europe and Australia,  Alameda work trickles on, Delta Stewardship Council posts Issue Paper: Restoring Habitat with Science and Society in Mind, Public Comments on Draft Interim Science Action Agenda Due by October 7, 2014, Antioch Dunes NWR: Partnership for dunes restoration celebrated, Don Edwards SF Bay NWR: Connecting People to Nature through Citizen Science,  Poor fish harvests more frequent now off the California coast, Biodiversity does not always improve resistance of forest ecosystems to drought, More waters may deserve federal protection, and communicating research results through comics
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Ringing in a new water year:It’s time to make some water-related resolutions, because October 1 marks the beginning of a new water year. A “water year” is a term used by the U.S. Geological Survey and hydrologists to describe the season in which most of the precipitation falls and snowpack accumulates in the United States. Rather than following a calendar year, a water year does not split the fall and winter seasons because the majority of storms occur between October and May. A water year is identified by the year in which it ends, so September 30 will mark the last day of the 2014 water year, and October 1 the beginning of the 2015 water year. In California’s Central Valley, the Department of Water Resources classifies water years into different types (“wet,” “above normal,” “below normal,” “dry,” or “critical”), based on indices for the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers that reflect the amount of runoff available in each basin. … ”  Read more from the FishBio blog here:  Ringing in a new water year

Causes of California drought linked to climate change:  “The extreme atmospheric conditions associated with California’s crippling drought are far more likely to occur under today’s global warming conditions than in the climate that existed before humans emitted large amounts of greenhouse gases.  Associate Professor Noah Diffenbaugh and graduate student Daniel Swain explain the ‘ridiculously resilient ridge’ and its role in the California drought. The atmospheric conditions associated with the unprecedented drought currently afflicting California are “very likely” linked to human-caused climate change, Stanford scientists write in a new research paper. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Causes of California drought linked to climate change

New report finds human-caused climate change increased severity of 2013 heat waves in Asia, Europe and Australia:report released today investigates the causes of a wide variety of extreme weather and climate events from around the world in 2013. Published by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, “Explaining Extreme Events of 2013 from a Climate Perspective” addresses the causes of 16 individual extreme events that occurred on four continents in 2013. NOAA scientists served as three of the four lead editors on the report.  Of the five heat waves studied in the report, human-caused climate change-primarily through the burning of fossil fuels-was found to have clearly increased the severity and likelihood of those events. On the other hand, for other events examined like droughts, heavy rain events, and storms, fingerprinting the influence of human activity was more challenging. ... ”  Read more from NOAA here:  New report finds human-caused climate change increased severity of 2013 heat waves in Asia, Europe and Australia

Alameda work trickles on:  “Driving down 680 from San Ramon to Pleasanton — with its prettily paved and groomed burbs — you wouldn’t guess that this was once a shallow lake and willow marsh. Indeed little trace
is left of the vast freshwater swamp called Tulare Lake, just over the East Bay ridges, which once collected all the runoff from Livermore and San Ramon. This marshy ecosystem filtered the rush of water from winter storms so that by the time it exited into the narrows of Arroyo de la Laguna, mingled with Alameda Creek, and spilled into Niles Canyon, it wasn’t an unmanageable torrent. But the development of farms and towns on top of this wet spot dramatically changed the hydrology of the northern reach of a vast watershed draining into San Francisco Bay. “When it rains, Niles Canyon gets crazy, there’s so much water, so fast,” says Tim Ramirez, natural resources manager for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which owns large areas in the watershed. … ”  Read more from Estuary News here: Alameda Work Trickles On

Delta Stewardship Council posts Issue Paper: Restoring Habitat with Science and Society in Mind:Habitat restoration is an essential element of restoring the Delta ecosystem while improving water supply reliability and protecting and enhancing the unique values of the Delta, as required by the Delta Reform Act (Water Code Section 85054). The state faces the challenge of designing effective science-based restoration projects within a landscape context while meeting deadlines for its current habitat restoration obligations. The purpose of this paper is to survey restoration activities; describe needs, progress and opportunities related to restoration; and propose key areas of focus for the Delta Stewardship Council (Council) and other agencies to advance habitat restoration over the next two years. ... ”  Download and read the issue paper here:  Issue Paper: Restoring Habitat with Science and Society in Mind

Public Comments on Draft Interim Science Action Agenda Due by October 7, 2014: “Public comment on the Delta Science Program’s Draft Interim Science Action Agenda (ISAA) must be received no later than October 7, 2014. The ISAA is an expedited initial version of a full Science Action Agenda, a key component of the Delta Science Plan. … Please organize written comments by section title, heading, appendix, page number, line number, table number, and spreadsheet name/tab, and row/column numbers as appropriate.”  For more information, click here.

Antioch Dunes NWR: Partnership for dunes restoration celebrated: U.S. Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA) joined officials of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Port of Stockton, Calif., to celebrate a unique partnership among the three agencies to restore habitat for endangered species on the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge.  An 18-foot kiosk donated by the Port was unveiled at the entrance to the refuge, revealing interpretive panels that explain the inter-agency effort to reuse sand dredged from the nearby San Joaquin River for restoration of depleted sand dunes at the site. ... ”  Read more from the US FWS Field Notes here:  Antioch Dunes NWR: Partnership for dunes restoration celebrated

Don Edwards SF Bay NWR: Connecting People to Nature through Citizen Science – CPWN: The Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge started monitoring the phenology of four different species this spring. In order to account for variation, two individuals of each species were chosen. The species were California live oak (Quercus agrifolia), coyotebrush (Braccharis pilularis), blue elderberry (Sambucus nigra-cerulea), and California wildrose (Rosa californica). All species are located in a recently restored area near the Environmental Education Center in Alviso, Calif. Although the refuge is only part way into the first season of monitoring, refuge staff and interns have already learned a lot. … ”  Read more from the US FWS Field Notes here:  Don Edwards SF Bay NWR: Connecting People to Nature through Citizen Science – CPWN

Poor fish harvests more frequent now off the California coast:  “As a child in southern California, Ryan Rykaczewski spent a fair amount of time on his grandfather’s boat, fishing with him off the Pacific coast near Los Angeles. At the time, he didn’t think there was much rhyme or reason to their luck on the water.  “Sometimes we’d catch a lot of fish and sometimes we didn’t,” he says. “I just thought it was chaotic, that we could never understand what was going on.”  But education changed his mind. Now an oceanographer and assistant professor at the University of South Carolina, he’s working to understand the many factors that determine how plentiful fish might be in the sea. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Poor fish harvests more frequent now off the California coast

Biodiversity does not always improve resistance of forest ecosystems to drought: Scientists from INRA, in collaboration with WSL (Switzerland) and European colleagues, studied the resistance of forests to drought according to the diversity of tree species.  Due to climate change, parts of the world will face droughts that will affect forest health. Scientists from INRA, in collaboration with WSL[1] (Switzerland) and European colleagues, studied the resistance of forests to drought according to the diversity of tree species. Contrary to what was commonly accepted by scientists, species diversity does not systematically improve tree resistance to drought in forest ecosystems. This result is published in the PNAS on 29 September 2014. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here: Biodiversity does not always improve resistance of forest ecosystems to drought

More waters may deserve federal protection: Federal environmental law can be tricky business. Defining which bodies of water are protected by the federal Clean Water Act can impact the permits required for someone developing their land, especially when wetlands could be affected.  Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 narrowed legal protections for geographically isolated wetlands, which are those surrounded by higher land. The new legal test created from those decisions protects wetlands and streams only when it can be proven that there is a “significant nexus” to downstream navigable waters. The legal test has created confusion because there is no consensus about what constitutes a significant nexus. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  More waters may deserve federal protection

Communicating research results through comics:Mark Ranjram, a Masters student in my research group, wrote a paper on crystalline permeability that is coming out in a special edition of Geofluids on ‘Crustal Permeability’ early in 2015 (other cool papers in early view here). Here is Mark’s awesome response when I asked him if he wanted to write a plain language summary … ”  Check it out from Water Underground here: Communicating research results through comics: is the permeability of crystalline rock in the shallow crust related to depth, lithology, or tectonic setting?

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