Science news and reports: Chinook salmon abundance, groundwater, new long-term earthquake forecast, Temp/Precip outlooks in review, developing infrastructure for worldwide data sharing, first “SMAP”shots and more …

In science news this week, Chinook salmon abundance: 2014 review and 2015 preview,  Farmers confront ominous groundwater shortage, New long term earthquake forecast for California, CPC Winter 2014-15 Seasonal and Monthly Precipitation and Temperature Outlooks in Review, The tropics as a prime suspect behind the warm-cold split over North America during recent winters, How rivers creep and flow to shape landscapes over time, Developing infrastructure for data sharing around the world, Nutrient pollution damages streams in ways previously unknown, ecologists find, Soil moisture mapper takes first “SMAP” shots, Flood and drought risk to cities on rise even with no climate change, and Urine power to light camps in disaster zones   
Wagon wheel diatom NOAA
Wagon wheel diatom, photo by NOAA

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Chinook salmon abundance: 2014 review and 2015 preview:  “The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) releases two key documents each February related to salmon abundance: a Review of Ocean Salmon Fisheries, which evaluates the status of salmon fisheries on the West Coast for the previous year, as well as the Preseason Report, which forecasts their predictions for the upcoming year. In the latter, the preseason predictions of Sacramento River fall-run Chinook abundance are estimated using a model based on the relationship between the calculated Sacramento Index (SI) values (which is the sum of total of harvest – both ocean and in-river – and escapement for Sacramento River fall-run Chinook in a given year), and the number of jacks (two-year old salmon) that escaped to the Sacramento Basin rivers during the previous fall (see more explanation in our previous Fish Report). This abundance prediction allows the PFMC to determine management strategies and fishing regulations. … ”  Continue reading at the FishBio blog here:  Chinook salmon abundance: 2014 review and 2015 preview

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California farmers confront ominous groundwater shortage:California’s perpetual problem of groundwater depletion has gotten so dire that people are actually working to solve it.  In California, groundwater deposits are getting saltier as cities and farms extract more water than is replenished naturally, allowing ocean water into the porous aquifers. One of the worst areas for it is the Pajaro Valley, a small farming community near Santa Cruz. In a state that has long touted itself as the nation’s No. 1 agricultural producer, the seawater has worked its way into groundwater deposits roughly 3 miles inland from the coast. ... ”  Read more from Scientific American here:  California farmers confront ominous groundwater shortage

USGS EQNew long term earthquake forecast for California:  “A new California earthquake forecast by the U.S. Geological Survey and partners revises scientific estimates for the chances of having large earthquakes over the next several decades.  The Third Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast, or UCERF3, improves upon previous models by incorporating the latest data on the state’s complex system of active geological faults, as well as new methods for translating these data into earthquake likelihoods.  The study confirms many previous findings, sheds new light on how the future earthquakes will likely be distributed across the state and estimates how big those earthquakes might be. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  New long-term earthquake forecast for California

CPC Winter 2014-15 Seasonal and Monthly Precipitation and Temperature Outlooks in Review:  Jan Null of Golden Gate Weather Services compares last year’s NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) 30-day and 90-day precipitation and temperature forecasts for the winter period of December-February (DJF) 2014-2015 with the actual observed conditions.  So they’d do?  Check it out here:  CPC Winter 2014-15 Seasonal and Monthly Precipitation and Temperature Outlooks in Review

The tropics as a prime suspect behind the warm-cold split over North America during recent winters: “So far this winter it has been warm and dry in the West and cold and snowy in the East.  As I write from Seattle, it is sunny and in the mid-fifties, and the Olympic Mountains have very little snow on them for late winter.  Meanwhile it is 25°F in Chicago, and Boston is bracing for another snowstorm that might bring their total closer to the snowiest season on record.  This winter bears some similarity to the record-breaking “Polar Vortex” winter of 2013-14, which was the second coldest on record for Chicago and was associated with an unusual seasonal pressure pattern that contributed to drought in California (Seager et al. 2014). ... ”  Continue reading from Climate.gov here: The tropics as a prime suspect behind the warm-cold split over North America during recent winters

How rivers creep and flow to shape landscapes over time:  “Most models predict that rivers only transport sediment during conditions of high flow and, moreover, that only particles on the surface of the river bed move due to the force of the flowing water above. But using a custom laboratory apparatus, a new study shows that, even when a river is calm, sediment on and beneath the river bed slowly creeps forward. … ”  Read mroe from Science Daily here:  How rivers creep and flow to shape landscapes over time

Developing infrastructure for data sharing around the world:  “How can we support agricultural productivity around the world? How can we develop public health models that leverage social data, health data and environmental data? What are best practices to ensure the stewardship of research data today and tomorrow?  Solutions to these and other critical challenges are being advanced through the sharing and exchange of research data. To increase data sharing and overcome the critical challenges associated with making data accessible, an international group of leaders in the data community joined together in 2013 to form the Research Data Alliance (RDA). ... ”  Read more from the National Science Foundation here:  Developing infrastructure for data sharing around the world

Nutrient pollution damages streams in ways previously unknown, ecologists find:  “An important food resource has been disappearing from streams without anyone noticing until now.  In a new study published March 6 in the journal Science, a team of researchers led by University of Georgia ecologists reports that nutrient pollution causes a significant loss of forest-derived carbon from stream ecosystems, reducing the ability of streams to support aquatic life.  The findings show that the in-stream residence time of carbon from leaves, twigs and other forest matter, which provide much of the energy that fuels stream food webs, is cut in half when moderate amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus are added to a stream. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Nutrient pollution damages streams in ways previously unknown

Smap shotSoil moisture mapper takes first “SMAP” shots:  “Fresh off the recent successful deployment of its 20-foot (6-meter) reflector antenna and associated boom arm, NASA’s new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory has successfully completed a two-day test of its science instruments.  The observatory’s radar and radiometer instruments were successfully operated for the first time with SMAP’s antenna in a non-spinning mode on Feb. 27 and 28. The test was a key step in preparation for the planned spin-up of SMAP’s antenna to approximately 15 revolutions per minute in late March. The spin-up will be performed in a two-step process after additional tests and maneuvers adjust the observatory to its final science orbit over the next couple of weeks. … ”  Read more from NASA here:  Soil moisture mapper takes first “SMAP” shots

Flood and drought risk to cities on rise even with no climate change:  “A heads-up to New York, Baltimore, Houston and Miami: a new study suggests that these metropolitan areas and others will increase their exposure to floods even in the absence of climate change, according to researchers from Texas A&M University.  Their work is published in Global Environmental Change.  The study presents first-ever global forecasts of how the exposure of to floods and droughts may change due to urban expansion in the near future. In 2000, about 30 percent of the global urban land (over 75,000 square miles) was located in the high-frequency zones; by 2030, this will reach nearly 40 percent (280,000 square miles) as the global urban land grows from 250,000 square miles to 720,000 square miles, the authors say. ... ”  Continue reading at PhysOrg here:  Flood and drought risk to cities on rise even with no climate change 

Urine power to light camps in disaster zones:  “A toilet, conveniently situated near the Student Union Bar at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), is proving that urine can generate electricity.  The prototype urinal is the result of a partnership between researchers at UWE Bristol and Oxfam. It is hoped the pee-power technology will light cubicles in refugee camps, which are often dark and dangerous places particularly for women.  Students and staff are being asked to use the urinal to donate pee to fuel microbial fuel cell (MFC) stacks that generate electricity to power indoor lighting. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Urine power to light camps in disaster zones

Maven’s XKCD Comic Pick of the Week …

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About Science News and Reports: This weekly feature, posted every Thursday, is a collection of the latest scientific research and reports with a focus on relevant issues to the Delta and to California water, although other issues such as climate change are sometimes included. Do you have an item to be included here? Submissions of relevant research and other materials is welcome. Email Maven.

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