Science news: Atmospheric rivers can reduce Sierra snow; NASA demonstrates airborne air quality sensor in the Delta; Draft Coleman National Fish Hatchery Adaptive Management Plan; Keeping an eye on Mono Lake’s California gulls; and more …

Azurite, Malachite in Sandstone: Arizona

Azurite, Malachite in Sandstone: Arizona

In science news this week: Study: Atmospheric rivers can reduce Sierra snow; NASA demonstrates airborne air quality sensor in the Delta; Draft Coleman National Fish Hatchery Adaptive Management Plan; Keeping an eye on Mono Lake’s California gulls; Swimming treadmills put fish through their paces; Fishing meets science with waders and smartphones; Warmer water leads to respiratory distress in aquatic animals; Groundwater from coastal aquifers is a better source for desalination than seawater; Study: Is recycled water safe for irrigation?; Drought in eastern Mediterranean the worst in 900 years; Is El Nino AWOL?

Study: Atmospheric rivers can reduce Sierra snow:  “A new study by NASA and several partners has found that in California’s Sierra Nevada, atmospheric river storms are two-and-a-half times more likely than other types of winter storms to result in destructive “rain-on-snow” events, where rain falls on existing snowpack. Those events increase flood risks in winter and reduce water availability the following summer.  The study, based on NASA satellite and ground-based data from 1998 through 2014, is the first to establish a climatological connection between atmospheric river storms and rain-on-snow events. Partnering with NASA on the study were UCLA; Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego; and the Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado. … ”  Read more from NASA here:  Study: Atmospheric rivers can reduce Sierra snow

NASA demonstrates airborne air quality sensor in the Delta: Monitoring the quality of freshwater supplies is a global concern, especially in thirsty California, where the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary and its watershed serve as a major freshwater source. Now scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and the U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park and Sacramento, California, have successfully demonstrated how a NASA-developed airborne environmental monitoring instrument can be applied to help water managers monitor water quality not only in San Francisco Bay, but potentially in other inland and coastal water bodies around the world.  In a study published in the current issue of the journal Environmental Science & Technology, researchers combined water sample measurements collected by USGS scientists aboard a high-speed boat in northeastern San Francisco Bay with data collected by JPL scientists at the same time onboard a specially instrumented Twin Otter aircraft flying overhead. … ”  Read more from NASA/JPL here:  NASA demonstrates airborne air quality sensor in the Delta  See also:  Airborne Sensor Shows Promise for Monitoring Water Quality, from the USGS

Science calendarPublic meeting scheduled for the Draft Coleman National Fish Hatchery Adaptive Management Plan:The Bureau of Reclamation will hold an open house/public meeting to solicit input on the Draft Coleman National Fish Hatchery (CNFH) Adaptive Management Plan (AMP).  The meeting will be held in Red Bluff on Tuesday, March 15, 2016, from 6–8 p.m. at the Hampton Inn Conference Room, 520 Adobe Road.  The purpose of the CNFH AMP is to acknowledge, identify, study and evaluate uncertainties regarding the operation of a large scale fish hatchery in a watershed being restored for natural salmonid populations through the Battle Creek Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Project (Restoration Project). The goal of the CNFH AMP is to provide solutions and processes to support optimization of CNFH programs, operations and infrastructure so that the hatchery mitigation goals and objectives are achieved, while maximizing its compatibility with the Restoration Project. The CNFH AMP is intended to closely coordinate with the Restoration Project AMP, so that together the two adaptive management plans form a single integrated framework for adaptive management in Battle Creek. … ”  Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation here:  Public meeting scheduled for the Draft Coleman National Fish Hatchery Adaptive Management Plan

Keeping an eye on Mono Lake’s California gulls:As the winter of 2015–16 unfolds in the Mono Basin, those of us lucky enough to live here are enjoying tracking every storm and taking the measure of El Niño’s effects. After years of drought, many Mono Lake issues are critically affected by the size of this winter’s snowpack.  But we can’t wait until the final snowflake has fallen to plan for 2016. This is especially true for the protection of the California Gulls that nest on Negit Island and surrounding islets, because the magnitude of the winter will directly determine how safe the nesting ground is this year. … ”  Read more from the Mono Logue here:  Keeping an eye on Mono Lake’s California gulls

Swimming treadmills put fish through their paces:  “Fish gotta swim – and just how long and fast they can do it is a major subject of scientific study. Fish scientists are increasingly studying respirometry, or fishes’ use of oxygen, in devices called swim tunnels, to learn about how a fish’s environment affects its ability to swim and perform other activities essential for survival. A swim tunnel is an underwater treadmill for fish that uses a motor to control water flow, and therefore the fish’s swimming speed. Swim tunnel respirometers also contain special oxygen monitoring equipment to measure the metabolic rate of fish in the swim tunnel. … ”  Read more from the FishBio blog here:  Swimming treadmills put fish through their paces

Fishing meets science with waders and smartphones:Dutch and American researchers have developed waders equipped with temperature sensors that enable fly-fishers to find the best fishing locations while collecting data to help scientists study streams. The research is published today (29 February) in Geoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems (GI), an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union.  “As scientists, we hope these data help us better understand where groundwater enters streams and where streamwater drains away to the groundwater,” explains Rolf Hut, a hydrologist at the Delft University of Technology and lead author of the study. “Furthermore, fly fishers themselves could benefit from knowing local stream temperature to find optimal fishing locations.” … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Fishing meets science with waders and smartphones

Warmer water leads to respiratory distress in aquatic animals: Until now, the link between rising water temperatures and higher mortality rates in aquatic animals was a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation. Are they dying because they’re unable to absorb enough oxygen from the water? Or are they not absorbing enough oxygen because the warm water is killing them in a different way? A team of ecologists from Radboud University and Cardiff University answered this question in an article published in Global Change Biology: warm water speeds up the animals’ metabolic need for oxygen to such an extent that it causes them to suffer from fatal respiratory distress. ... ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Warmer water leads to respiratory distress in aquatic animals

Groundwater from coastal aquifers is a better source for desalination than seawater:  “Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) have determined that saline groundwater from coastal aquifers is a better alternative water source than seawater for reverse osmosis (RO) desalination due to reduced membrane fouling and pre-treatment costs.  …  “Decision-makers in both California and Israel can use this research to seriously consider saline groundwater as a realistic alternative when planning future large-scale seawater desalination facilities,” explains Dr. Roni Kasher, a senior lecturer in the BGU Zuckerberg Institute’s Department of Desalination and Water Treatment. “In Israel, seawater desalination accounts for 60 percent of the total freshwater supply, so these findings are significant.” … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here:  Groundwater from coastal aquifers is a better source for desalination than seawater

Study: Is recycled water safe for irrigation? What would you do without water?  Farmers in drought areas are especially concerned by this question. As fresh water resources become scarce, one option for water-conscious farmers is to water crops with treated wastewater. This effluent is becoming a more popular option for applications that don’t require drinking-quality water. However, there are still questions about how the effluent interacts with and affects the rest of the ecosystem.  This is where Alison Franklin and her team at Pennsylvania State University come in. Franklin is investigating what happens to certain compounds that remain in the effluent after treatment. She wants to know, “Where do these compounds go?” ... ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Reduce, reuse, recycle: Safe for water?

Drought in eastern Mediterranean the worst in 900 years: A new NASA study finds that the recent drought that began in 1998 in the eastern Mediterranean Levant region, which comprises Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Turkey, is likely the worst drought of the past nine centuries.  Scientists reconstructed the Mediterranean’s drought history by studying tree rings as part of an effort to understand the region’s climate and what shifts water to or from the area. Thin rings indicate dry years while thick rings show years when water was plentiful.  In addition to identifying the driest years, the science team discovered patterns in the geographic distribution of droughts that provides a “fingerprint” for identifying the underlying causes. Together, these data show the range of natural variation in Mediterranean drought occurrence, which will allow scientists to differentiate droughts made worse by human-induced global warming. The research is part of NASA’s ongoing work to improve the computer models that simulate climate now and in the future. ... ”  Read more from NASA here:  Drought in eastern Mediterranean the worst in 900 years

Is El Nino AWOL?  “Is El Niño missing? What happened to the rainfall I was promised?  What is going on?  Some quick answers for those who don’t want to read it all (but then you’ll miss the graphical awesomeness I coded up with an assist from climate.gov staff.  So read to the end. Please.):  I. No. It’s still here.  Based on measurements of sea surface temperature in the tropical Pacific Ocean, this El Niño is the biggest event we’ve seen in almost twenty years.   II. NOAA CPC climate forecasters don’t promise precipitation. For some regions of the U.S., we provide seasonal outlooks for an increased chance of precipitation over a span of a 3-month (seasonal) average. III. I really don’t know.  I ask myself this all the time (particularly during election years).   Here, I’m going to present some recent observations and show how they compare to a typical El Niño pattern. … ”  Read more from Climate.gov here:  Is El Nino AWOL?

Maven’s XKCD Comic Pick of the Week …

 

Daily emailsSign up for daily email service and you’ll never miss a post!

Sign up for daily emails and get all the Notebook’s aggregated and original water news content delivered to your email box by 9AM. Breaking news alerts, too. Sign me up!


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

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: