Science news and reports: An update on California fishes of ‘special concern’; Three ways teamwork helps birds survive California’s drought; Harmful algal blooms and climate change; water governance, evaporation, and more …

In science news this week: An update on California fishes of ‘special concern’; Three ways teamwork helps birds survive California’s drought; The Sushi Project: Farming fish and rice in California’s fields; Harmful algal blooms and climate change: Preparing to forecast the future; Cooperation and crisis in California water governance;Is freshwater supply more dependent on good governance than geography?; First dates; Evaporation takes place differently than previously thought; And lastly … watering up Halloween, California style

An update on California fishes of ‘special concern’:  Peter Moyle writes, “Three-fourths of California’s native fishes are now officially designated as being in trouble, or potentially so.  The good news is that not all of these species – 93 of the total 123 native fishes today – have to go the way of winter-run Chinook salmon or delta smelt, which are verging on extinction in the wild.  Years ago, state wildlife managers created a “species of special concern” designation for California fauna that are not legally classified as “threatened” or “endangered” but nonetheless appear bound for extinction without some intervention. Though the label carries no legal clout, it has brought research and management attention to these animals at risk. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  An update on California fishes of ‘special concern’

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Three ways teamwork helps birds survive California’s drought: Two hundred years ago, millions of birds including Long-Billed Dowitchers, Snow Geese, and Sandhill Cranes migrating south from Alaska to the the southern tip of Mexico would have had no problem finding prime wetland real estate along their routes. Back then, the regular flooding of California’s Central Valley’s surging Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers created some 4 million acres of wetland, by some estimates.  The birds migrating today are not so lucky—agriculture and development in the Central Valley has filled in 95 percent of the original wetland habitat. Around 205,000 acres of managed Central Valley wetlands remain for millions of migrating birds, and California’s four years of severe drought haven’t helped. ... ”  Read more from the Audubon blog here:  Three ways teamwork helps birds survive California’s drought

The Sushi Project: Farming fish and rice in California’s fields: The idea of rearing salmon in fallowed rice fields started in a duck blind. Huey Johnson, California’s Secretary of Resources in the 1970s and at age 82 widely considered the “grand old man” of California environmentalists, is an avid hunter, who has spent hundreds of hours in Central Valley duck blinds. It is perhaps a testament to the contemplation induced by extended time spent in blinds that Johnson, surrounded by winter rice fields flooded to decompose rice straw, began wondering what else could be done with all that water. His answer: Grow fish. With two environmentally minded investors, Johnson formed a company called Cal Marsh & Farm Ventures that in 2011 acquired a Northern California rice field to carry out fish experiments. … ”  Read more from Yale 360 here:  The Sushi Project: Farming fish and rice in California’s fields:

Harmful algal blooms and climate change: Preparing to forecast the future: Marine scientists attending an international workshop warned that the future may bring more harmful algal blooms (HABs) that threaten wildlife and the economy, and called for changes in research priorities to better forecast these long-term trends.  The findings of the international workshop on HABs and climate Change were published in the journal Harmful Algae. The workshop was organized under the auspices of the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES) and the Global Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (GEOHAB) and endorsed by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). The central findings were that while there are reasons to expect HABs to increase with climate change, poor scientific understanding seriously limits forecasts, and current research strategies will not likely improve this capacity. ... ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Harmful algal blooms and climate change

Cooperation and crisis in California water governance:  Mark Lubell writes, “I recently attended a Princeton conference on global governance, complex adaptive systems, and evolutionary theory.  The conference was hosted by ecologist Simon Levin and political scientist Bob Keohane, and featured some of the world’s top scholars in these areas of research. Simon Levin, who has written extensively about complex adaptive systems and a gazillion other things, offered the analogy of the immune system as a way to think how water governance responds to risk and crises.  Immune systems help maintain the function of biological organisms by responding quickly to invasions from external pathogens, or regulating rogue cells that might otherwise cause cancers. Similarly, governance systems may be more robust for maintaining cooperation if they can quickly respond to unforeseen crises.  In increasingly interdependent and connected systems, even small crises (“femtorisks”) can ripple through a system to create more series emergent risks.  These ideas inspired me to think about the relationship between two central themes in the broad literature on public policy and governance. … ”  Read more from Mark Lubell’s blog here:  Cooperation and crisis in California water governance

Is freshwater supply more dependent on good governance than geography?: “Scientists have analysed 19 different characteristics critical to water supply management in 119 low per capita income countries and found that vulnerability is pervasive and commonly arises from relatively weak institutional controls.  The study, conducted by researchers based at Washington State University (WSU), USA, and Stanford University, USA, sought to identify freshwater supply vulnerabilities using four broad categories; endowment (availability of source water), demand, infrastructure and institutions (e.g. government regulations).  The results are published today, 23rd October 2015, in the journal Environmental Research Letters. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Is freshwater supply more dependent on good governance than geography?

First dates:  Deke Arndt writes, “So, the climate.gov editors wanted me to write about first dates. Well, I spilled spaghetti sauce all over myself and got a speeding ticket. Then we saw The Princess Bride.  Oh wait, a clarification: the first date of snowfall. That was awkward.  So … it’s about that time of year, and for some of you, it’s already happened. Winter’s first snow. For those who are still waiting, here’s a handy historical map that ballparks the first day of snow for an average year. It’s based on the “normals” dataset constructed here at the National Centers for Environmental Information—the same dataset from which the familiar “Today’s normal high is ____” bit of your weathercast is drawn. … ”  Read more from Climate.gov here:  First dates

A preliminary summary of Highway 58 and I-5 flooding event of October 15, 2015: “Nina Oakley (WRCC/DRI), Jeremy Lancaster (CGS), John Stock (USGS), Brian Kawzenuk (CW3E), and Mike Kaplan (DRI) provide an analysis and synopsis of the meteorological and geological conditions that produced alluvial fan flooding over portions of Highway 58 and Interstate 5 in southern California. A weakening cutoff low that had entrained subtropical moisture moved onshore over southern California, initiating convection and localized heavy precipitation. Hillslope runoff concentrated in steep valleys where it entrained debris. The debris then flowed onto steep alluvial fans at the base of these valleys, inundating portions of I-5 and State Hwy 58.”  Read more from the Center for Western Water and Weather Extremes here: A preliminary summary of Highway 58 and I-5 flooding event of October 15, 2015

Evaporation takes place differently than previously thought: Implications for global warming: “The process of evaporation, one of the most widespread on our planet, takes place differently than we once thought — this has been shown by new computer simulations carried out at the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. The discovery has far-reaching consequences for, among others, current global climate models, where a key role is played by evaporation of the oceans.  They all evaporate: oceans and seas, microdroplets of fuel in engines and the sweat on our own skin. For every one of us evaporation is of paramount importance: it shapes the climate of the planet, it affects the cost of car travel, and is one of the most important factors controlling the temperature of the human body. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here: Evaporation takes place differently than previously thought: Implications for global warming

And lastly … watering up Halloween, California style: What better way to spook Californians this Halloween than to appear as a slobbering “Godzilla El Niño.” Or draped in a bedsheet as Godzilla’s opponent, “The Blob,” the amoeba-shaped patch of unusually warm Pacific water blocking storms in California.  Too scary? Not to worry. Researchers at UC Davis’ Center for Watershed Sciences (publisher of California WaterBlog) suggest how you can be California-chic without egging on people’s water fears. They have no shortage of ideas for unintimidating water- and science-themed Halloween costumes. … ” More from the California Water Blog here:  Watering up Halloween, California style

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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