Science news and reports: Cliff Dahm assumes Delta Lead Scientist post; Agencies release environmental data “vision document”; Following the salmon homecoming; Yolo Bypass study highlights big payoff for little cost; and more …

Sea creature sliderbox

Two feather star crinoids and gooseneck barnacles make a “black coral” bush home. Photo by NOAA.

In science news this week, Cliff Dahm assumes Delta Lead Scientist post; Agencies release environmental data “vision document”; Following the salmon homecoming; Yolo Bypass study highlights big payoff for little cost; How the recovery of tule elk has created a dilemma in wildlife management at Point Reyes; During Recent Droughts: Central Valley Groundwater Levels Reached Historical Lows and Land Subsidence Intensified; Brown bag seminars: Ecosystem Modeling and Radar-based Levee Monitoring; Survey Says: New Report Shows Scientific Integrity at Federal Agencies Needs Improvement; Oncoming El Nino likely to continue species shakeup in Pacific; Not what I ordered: How El Nino is like a bad bartender …

Cliff Dahm assumes Delta Lead Scientist post:  “Dr. Clifford Dahm, an internationally recognized expert in aquatic ecology, climatology, restoration biology, and a professor emeritus of biology at the University of New Mexico, was unanimously appointed by the Delta Stewardship Council as Lead Scientist of the Delta Science Program – a post he held from 2008 to 2012.  In making the appointment, Council Chair Randy Fiorini said, “With his broad understanding of water-related science and his background as the former Lead Scientist for the CALFED Bay-Delta Science Program, Cliff will provide crucial knowledge and scientific leadership as we implement both the Delta Plan and the Delta Science Plan.” … ”  Read more from the Delta Stewardship Council newsletter here:  Cliff Dahm assumes Delta Lead Scientist post

Agencies release environmental data “vision document”:Streamlining the collaboration of huge amounts of environmental data between various State and federal agencies is the goal of Enhancing the Vision for Managing California’s Environmental Information, a white paper synopsis of the lessons learned at the Environmental Data Summit held in June 2014.  The document outlines how each day monumental amounts of environmental data are collected by various State and federal agencies. The information, however, is often inaccessible to others either because of its sheer size or the incompatibility of competing information systems. This inability to retrieve large amounts of data from so-called “agency silos” creates inefficiencies for decision-makers who require more timely facts and figures. … ”  More here:  Agencies release environmental data “vision document”

Following the salmon homecoming:Fall is homecoming season for a variety of migrating fish species, including fall-run Chinook salmon on the Stanislaus River. After two or three years of living in the ocean (or even longer), the fish are now making a long journey back to the streams where they were born. In our version of rolling out the red carpet, we prepare for the salmon to arrive by putting up a fence: not to keep the fish out, but to make sure we can count every single one that returns to the river. The fence-like structure is a called a resistance board weir, and our crews have installed one on the Stanislaus River every fall for 12 years, thanks to support from the Oakdale Irrigation District, South San Joaquin Irrigation District, and Tri-Dam. The weir guides the fish swimming upstream through a single opening, where they are counted with the help of our Riverwatcher automatic fish counter ”  Read more from the FishBio blog here:  Following the salmon homecoming

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Yolo Bypass study highlights big payoff for little cost: Significant habitat improvement is possible for several fish and bird species with little annual economic cost for farmers according to a three-year study of the Yolo Bypass, led by Delta Independent Science Board Chair Jay Lund and then-graduate student Robyn Suddeth (now a Water Policy Analyst with CH2M Hill).  “This study highlights the ability for birds and fish to both benefit from management of a mixed agricultural and wetland landscape, without large tradeoffs among them,” said Suddeth in the executive summary of the study, Integrating Ecosystem, Flood Control, Agricultural, and Water Supply Benefits: An Application to the Yolo Bypass that ended in July 2014. “Importantly, agricultural crops are optimally a vital component of the overall habitat mosaic, a sign that even heavily modified floodplains can be improved for native species without eliminating human use.” … ”  Read more from the Delta Stewardship Council newsletter here:  Yolo Bypass study highlights big payoff for little cost

On the Fence: How the recovery of tule elk has created a dilemma in wildlife management at Point Reyes: Dave Press slides on a pair of aviator glasses and begins hiking up a hill, only to cast them aside at the top for binoculars, shielded by a National Park Service baseball cap. He scans an adjacent hillside for the tule elk that are browsing beyond a stand of eucalyptus trees, the tallest foliage on a landscape dominated by low-lying coastal scrub. Off to his right gleams Tomales Bay, and before him lies Tomales Point, the northernmost tip of the Point Reyes National Seashore.  “We’ve got a group up there in a kind of tricky spot,” says Press, the wildlife ecologist for the park, who grew up in western Marin County and knows the territory like the back of his hand. “We can’t see them all from here.” ... ”  More from Bay Nature here:  On the Fence: How the recovery of tule elk has created a dilemma in wildlife management at Point Reyes

During Recent Droughts: Central Valley Groundwater Levels Reached Historical Lows and Land Subsidence Intensified: “This year, groundwater levels in many wells in California’s Central Valley are at or below historical low levels. In addition, from 2007 through 2015, land subsidence that correlates to areas with large groundwater level declines has strongly increased in two large agricultural areas near the towns of El Nido and Pixley, according to a new article by the U.S. Geological Survey.  A new USGS website, launched in conjunction with the article’s release, provides extensive additional information about groundwater-level declines and subsidence in the Central Valley. … ”  Read more from the USGS here:  During Recent Droughts: Central Valley Groundwater Levels Reached Historical Lows and Land Subsidence Intensified

Brown bag seminars: Ecosystem Modeling and Radar-based Levee Monitoring: Integrating ecosystem modeling as an adaptive management tool was the topic of a July 7 Brown Bag Seminar where Dr. John Wolfe, a vice president with LimnoTech, a Michigan-based environmental engineering firm, presented lessons learned from the Great Lakes where his company has been using ecological forecasting models since the 1970s. Wolfe also described the benefits of integrated modeling as part of an adaptive management approach that can be applied to the Bay-Delta system. ... ”  Read more from the Delta Stewardship Council newsletter here:  Brown bag seminars: Ecosystem Modeling and Radar-based Levee Monitoring

Embrace the chaos:  Predictable ecosystems may be more fragile: When it comes to using our natural resources, human beings want to know what we’re going to get. We expect clean water every time we turn on the tap; beaches free of algae and bacteria; and robust harvests of crops, fish and fuel year after year. As a result, we try to manage the use of our resources in a way that minimizes their variability.  We seek a predictable “status quo.”  But a new study published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says managing our environment for predictable outcomes is risky. In fact, more often than not, it backfires. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Embrace the chaos: Predictable ecosystems may be more fragile

Survey Says: New Report Shows Scientific Integrity at Federal Agencies Needs Improvement: “Do you feel like your scientific work is too politicized?  If you are a scientist working for the federal government, the answer might be yes. Thousands of scientists report that political considerations are given too much weight at their federal agency.  My new report, Progress and Problems: Government Scientists Report on Scientific Integrity at Four Agencies, reveals results of a survey of 7,000 scientists at four federal agencies—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The survey asked scientists about scientific integrity, communications, and agency effectiveness. … ”  Read more from The Equation blog here: Survey Says: New Report Shows Scientific Integrity at Federal Agencies Needs Improvement

Oncoming El Nino likely to continue species shakeup in Pacific: The emerging El Niño climate pattern that is warming the tropical Pacific Ocean is likely to continue–and could even increase–the appearance of marine species in unfamiliar places along the West Coast. This trend started with a vast “warm blob” of high temperature waters that has dominated the Northeast Pacific since 2014.  Previous El Niños coincided with large-scale redistribution of some West Coast marine mammals, fish and sea turtles. The combination of an anticipated strong El Niño and the blob may do the same, possibly in new and different ways, NOAA Fisheries researchers say. ... ”  Read more from NOAA here:  Oncoming El Nino likely to continue species shakeup in the Pacific

Not what I ordered: How El Nino is like a bad bartender: Deke Arndt writes, “Let’s face it: El Niño is the life of the party. He’s the Most Interesting Child in the World. The good folks over at The ENSO Blog have filled up a whole blog, and still there are enough leftovers for Beyond the Data, where we don’t always blog about teleconnections, but when we do, we prefer El Niño.  We’ve already written about how El Niño will push the needle toward 2015 being the warmest year on record. But thinking a little more directly about the state of the climate in the U.S., how might a strong El Niño impact things here? Will it put a dent in the Western U.S. drought, one of the defining climate events of the decade? What about the rest of the country?  If you’ve been following along over at The ENSO Blog, you know this El Niño event is already one of the big ones. And, it will very likely take its place among the pantheon of El Niños of the last 60-70 years. But the expectations in some places aren’t as cut and dried as you might think. … ”  Read more from Climate.gov here:  Not what I ordered: How El Nino is like a bad bartender

 

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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