Science news: California closes Dungeness and razor clam fisheries due to algal toxin; Innovative designs in PIT tag antennas; Measuring the effectiveness of environmental flows; A tale of two California droughts; and more …

Twin forces header
On the left, La Nina cools off the ocean surface (greens and blues) in the winter of 1988. On the right, El Nino warms up it up (oranges and reds) in the winter of 1997. Courtesy of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
In science news this week: California closes Dungeness and razor clam fisheries due to algal toxin; Innovative designs in PIT tag antennas; Measuring the effectiveness of environmental flows;  A tale of two California droughts: Lessons amidst record warmth and dryness in a region of complex physical and human geography; 2015 likely to be the warmest on record; 2011-2015 warmest five year period; Climate change rule of thumb: cold “things” warming faster than warm things

California closes Dungeness and razor clam fisheries due to algal toxin: Earlier this month, the California Fish and Game Commission closed the state’s year-round rock crab fishery north of the Ventura-Santa Barbara county line and delayed the opening of the lucrative recreational and commercial Dungeness crab fishery. The closures are the most recent of several that have occurred along the West Coast as far north as Washington as a result of potentially toxic levels of harmful algae.  … Scientists continue to analyze samples taken from cruises through the bloom dating back to last summer. Further research will have to definitively confirm the relationship between this year’s warm water and the record-breaking bloom. … ”  Read more from Climate.gov here:  California closes Dungeness and razor clam fisheries due to algal toxin

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Innovative designs in PIT tag antennas: We are always surprised at the innovations that professionals in fisheries, wildlife, and technology come up with in the design and uses of Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tag antennas and their uses. PIT tags have been used worldwide to study a variety of wildlife species, but their first prominent use in fisheries management was to monitor salmonid survival through the hydroelectric system in the Columbia River. Typical uses are to deploy an antenna array in a stream or river so that tagged fish either swim through or over the antenna. Alternatively, antennas have been integrated onto floating rafts and boats so that they can be floated over tagged fish in shallow rivers, or are mounted on backpacks to detect tagged fish in small creeks.  … ”  Read more from the FishBio blog here:  Innovative designs in PIT tag antennas

Measuring the effectiveness of environmental flows Ann Willis and Andrew Nichols write, “In the early fall of 2012, an unusually large number of Chinook salmon were returning to the Klamath River, straddling the California-Oregon border. Many of those fish were expected to swim upstream to the Shasta River, prompting emergency actions to increase stream flows in the upstream tributary.  When Chinook enter the Shasta, they pause in pools before heading further upstream to spawn. The Shasta naturally runs low this time of year, and irrigation diversions to support the region’s cattle ranching further reduce flows. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Measuring the effectiveness of environmental flows

A tale of two California droughts: Lessons amidst record warmth and dryness in a region of complex physical and human geography: From the Abstract: “The state of California has experienced the worst drought in its historical record during 2012–2015. Adverse effects of this multiyear event have been far from uniformly distributed across the region, ranging from remarkably mild in most of California’s densely populated coastal cities to very severe in more rural, agricultural, and wildfire-prone regions. This duality of impacts has created a tale of two very different California droughts—highlighting enhanced susceptibility to climate stresses at the environmental and socioeconomic margins of California. From a geophysical perspective, the persistence of related atmospheric anomalies has raised a number of questions regarding the drought’s origins—including the role of anthropogenic climate change. Recent investigations underscore the importance of understanding the underlying physical causes of extremes in the climate system, and the present California drought represents an excellent case study for such endeavors. Meanwhile, a powerful El Niño event in the Pacific Ocean offers the simultaneous prospect of partial drought relief but also an increased risk of flooding during the 2015–2016 winter—a situation illustrative of the complex hydroclimatic risks California and other regions are likely to face in a warming world.” Read this article from Daniel Swain at Wiley here (article is open access): A tale of two California droughts: Lessons amidst record warmth and dryness in a region of complex physical and human geography

2015 likely to be the warmest on record; 2011-2015 warmest five year period:  “The years 2011-2015 have been the warmest five-year period on record, with many extreme weather events — especially heatwaves — influenced by climate change, according to a WMO five-year analysis.  “The state of the global climate in 2015 will make history as for a number of reasons,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. “Levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached new highs and in the Northern hemisphere spring 2015 the three-month global average concentration of CO2 crossed the 400 parts per million barrier for the first time. 2015 is likely to be the hottest year on record, with ocean surface temperatures at the highest level since measurements began. It is probable that the 1°C Celsius threshold will be crossed,” said Mr Jarraud. “This is all bad news for the planet.” … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  2015 likely to be the warmest on record; 2011-2015 warmest five year period

Climate change rule of thumb: cold “things” warming faster than warm things:This week, Beyond the Data looks at one of the more well-grounded “rules of thumb” for understanding climate change. This one is pretty simple to put your thumb on: on average, cooler places and cooler times are warming more quickly than warmer places and times.  But first, let’s clarify–and emphasize–what we mean by a “rule of thumb.”  Just like in its common usage, a rule of thumb here refers to something generally true often enough to be useful and informative, but not universally reliable–kind of a “two-out-of-three” or “three-out-of-four” kind of situation.  So, it’s nothing to thumb your nose at, because it’s true more often than not. But it’s also not the case everywhere. … ”  Continue reading at Climate.gov here:  Climate change rule of thumb: cold “things” warming faster than warm things

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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