Science news and reports: Report Posted on Flows and Fishes in the Delta; Health check on the San Francisco Estuary; UC Merced researchers gathering data; West Coast algal blooms, El Nino from across the pond, and more …

Dark Side of the Moon

The Dark Side of the Moon …

In science news this week, Final Report Posted on Flows and Fishes in the Delta; A tale of two waterbodies: Health check on the San Francisco Estuary; UC Merced researchers gathering data to tackle California’s drought on multiple fronts; Botanist to study responses of trees and shrubs to extreme drought; Walnut grower Craig McNamara on water banking, hedgerows, and the birds and the bees; This summer’s West Coast algal bloom was unusual.  What would usual look like?; Storms after Wildfire Lead to Impaired Water Quality; New water-tracing technology to help protect groundwater; Engineering for disaster; and more …

Final Report Posted on Flows and Fishes in the Delta:The Delta Independent Science Board (Delta ISB) has posted its review on how freshwater flows affect Delta fish populations. The report, “Flows and Fishes in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta” offers several recommendations on scientific strategies to benefit adaptive management.  The Delta Reform Act of 2009, in §85320(c), directs the Delta ISB to review Delta science programs that support adaptive management of the Delta.  Further discussions on the Flows and Fishes report will be held in a series of upcoming meetings — November 12 and 13 Delta ISB meeting, November 16 Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee meeting, and the November 19 Council meeting.”   Click here to read the review.

A tale of two waterbodies: Health check on the San Francisco Estuary:  “Discussing the health of the San Francisco estuary quickly becomes a tale of two waterbodies with diverging narratives. The recent State of the San Francisco Estuary meeting in Oakland, Calif., focused largely on the 2015 report of the same name released by the San Francisco Estuary Partnership. The findings could essentially be summed up as: the conditions in San Francisco Bay (the “lower” estuary) are generally fair and improving, while those of Suisun Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta (the “upper” estuary) are generally fair or poor, and are declining. The assessment focused on five broad attributes: water, habitat, wildlife, processes, and people. Speakers discussed that the Delta remains more highly modified by human activities due to limited support and consensus for restoration, while the Bay has been subject to more intensive restoration efforts. … ”  Continue reading at the FishBio blog here:  A tale of two waterbodies: Health check on the San Francisco Estuary

Weekly Science News

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UC Merced researchers gathering data to tackle California’s drought on multiple fronts:California, long envied by the rest of the country for its climate, beauty and natural resources, is four years into a drought and in the midst of a water crisis a century in the making.  With Gov. Jerry Brown imposing mandatory water restrictions on residents, the state’s staggeringly complex water woes have taken the sheen off at least some of the California dream.  But researchers at UC Merced are trying to unravel the Gordian knot that is California water through a new inter-campus initiative. … ”  Read more from UC Merced here:  UC Merced researchers gathering data to tackle California’s drought on multiple fronts

Botanist to study responses of trees and shrubs to extreme drought: As is well known now, California is in its fourth year of drought. As a result, mass mortality of trees and shrubs is happening more quickly than researchers can quantify. Rapid changes in vegetation cover are already leading to loss of biodiversity, opportunities for invasive species, and novel ecosystems with entirely new plant communities.  Louis Santiago, an associate professor of botany and plant sciences at the University of California, Riverside, has now received a grant of $180,000 for two years from the National Science Foundation to study how trees and shrubs respond to extreme drought.  “The current California drought represents the driest three-year record in the state’s history,” he said.  ... ”  Continue reading at PhysOrg here:  Botanist to study responses of trees and shrubs to extreme drought

Walnut grower Craig McNamara on water banking, hedgerows, and the birds and the bees: Eric Holst writes, “Craig McNamara embodies agricultural leadership in California. He has farmed a 450-acre organic walnut orchard in Winters, California for the past 35 years. He’s been an innovator in implementing conservation practices on his land that both enhance wildlife and benefit his farming operation. He’s also the president of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture, and an influential sustainable agriculture educator.  I’ve known Craig for about 10 years and have had the honor of serving with him on the State Board for the last two. I spoke with him about how he integrates farming with ecology and his plan for dealing with potential El Niño rains. … ”  Continue reading at Growing Returns here:  Walnut grower Craig McNamara on water banking, hedgerows, and the birds and the bees

This summer’s West Coast algal bloom was unusual.  What would usual look like? Previously, I described a record-breaking algal bloom that is ongoing off the West Coast of North America, stretching from California to the waters of the Gulf of Alaska. High levels of the algal toxin domoic acid led to the closures of recreational razor clam harvests in Oregon and Washington and large portions of Washington’s Dungeness crab fishery.  Health advisories were issued to sardine and anchovy fishers along part of the California coastline.  NOAA scientists are investigating the toxic bloom as one of many possible causes of death of over 30 whales.  This event is being taken seriously by NOAA scientists who are continuing to monitor the bloom and investigate its causes and impacts, including the possible connection to the unusually warm water in the North Pacific. … ”  Read more from Climate.gov here:  This summer’s West Coast algal bloom was unusual. What would usual look like?

Storms after Wildfire Lead to Impaired Water Quality:Water quality can be substantially diminished for several years after wildfire in response to relatively common local thunderstorms, according to a recent USGS study. USGS scientists led by research hydrologist Sheila Murphy collected extensive streamflow and water-quality data for three years after the Fourmile Canyon Fire, Colo., in a geographic setting typical of the American southwest. They then correlated the results with data from a high-density rain gage network. “Unfortunately, wildfires have become a common occurrence in the western United States,” said William Werkheiser, USGS Associate Director for Water. “We need to better understand the drivers of post-wildfire water quality and find ways to adjust to this challenge.”  … ”  Read more from the USGS here:  Storms after Wildfire Lead to Impaired Water Quality

New water-tracing technology to help protect groundwater:  “New water-tracing technology has been used in the Sydney Basin for the first time to determine how groundwater moves in the different layers of rock below the surface. The study provides a baseline against which any future impacts on groundwater from mining operations, groundwater abstraction or climate change can be assessed. The research has global relevance because this new technology provides a quick and cheap alternative to having to install numerous boreholes for groundwater monitoring.”  Read more from Science Daily here:  New water-tracing technology to help protect groundwater

Engineering for disaster: A new NCAR-facilitated group aims to develop the know-how and tools for building resilient systems that can recover smoothly when catastrophic weather and climate events strike.  The group, the Engineering for Climate Extremes Partnership (ECEP), is building relationships with experts from a broad array of sectors, from engineering to business, government, academia, and American Indian tribal and community leadership. The common thread is concern for the mounting toll taken by extreme weather events, which is expected to worsen with climate change.  Central to ECEP is the Global Risk, Resilience, and Impacts Toolbox, or GRRIT. … ” Read more from NCAR here:  Engineering for disaster

Paper: ‘Sustainable Water Management Under Future Uncertainty with Eco-Engineering Decision Scaling’: “Abstract: Managing freshwater resources sustainably under future climatic and hydrological uncertainty poses novel challenges. Rehabilitation of ageing infrastructure and construction of new dams are widely viewed as solutions to diminish climate risk, but attaining the broad goal of freshwater sustainability will require expansion of the prevailing water resources management paradigm beyond narrow economic criteria to include socially valued ecosystem functions and services. We introduce a new decision framework, eco-engineering decision scaling (EEDS), that explicitly and quantitatively explores trade-offs in stakeholder-defined engineering and ecological performance metrics across a range of possible management actions under unknown future hydrological and climate states. … ”  Read the rest of the abstract and download the paper at the Water Wired blog: Paper: ‘Sustainable Water Management Under Future Uncertainty with Eco-Engineering Decision Scaling’

El Nino from the other side of the pond: Australia and the US share many things. They are roughly the same size, they both sit on the Pacific Rim, and their people love sports, music, and movies, plus the odd donut. But to a climatologist, there are a number of fundamental differences.  For a start, America is in the land-heavy Northern Hemisphere, while Australia is in the water-dominated south. This means that our seasons are directly opposite.  For Australia, mid-summer really does occur in the middle of December–January–February, while mid-winter is the middle of June–July–August. This reversal of seasons suits us just fine—long balmy summer holidays to finish the year off for instance, though Santa’s sleigh does get a little beaten up in the dust. ... ”  Continue reading from the ENSO blog here:  El Nino from the other side of the pond

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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