Science news: Cutting edge tools to identify potential groundwater well problems; A custom automated fish ladder monitoring system; DredgeFest California seeking workshop participants; Life history diversity in Klamath River steelhead; and more …

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In science news this week: Cutting edge tools to identify potential groundwater well problems; Moving up a rung: A custom automated fish ladder monitoring system; DredgeFest California seeking workshop participants; Life history diversity in Klamath River steelhead; Colorado River flows reduced by warmer spring temperatures; Methane matters: Scientists Work to Quantify the Effects of a Potent Greenhouse Gas; USGS Science for an El Nino winter

Cutting edge tools to identify potential groundwater well problems:  “Groundwater wells can fail in many ways. Sometimes the water table sinks below the level of the well. Sometimes minerals cause buildup in well systems. And, sometimes, wells get clogged with lots and lots of microbes.  Microbes can form large, jelly-like mats that lead to well failure from what is known as biofouling. Biofouled wells can be both expensive and technically challenging to repair. There are even times that repair is not possible and replacement is the only option. In Washington State, for example, researchers have encountered well pipes completely clogged by mats of bacteria. While this level of biofouling has not yet been found in California, nobody has really been looking either. Until now. ... ”  Continue reading at the Confluence Blog here:  Cutting edge tools to identify potential groundwater well problems

Moving up a rung: A custom automated fish ladder monitoring system:  “Fish ladders provide upstream passage for migratory fish over dams, weirs, and other barriers in waterways throughout the world. While these passage structures play an important role in helping fish access habitats they otherwise could not, fisheries biologists also value them for another reason: ladders are often perfect places for installing fish counting stations. Streams with migratory fish populations tend to be too wide for counting fish effectively, especially with an automated system. Ladders, on the other hand, are often narrow enough that just a few fish can pass through a given point at a time, making it easier to count them automatically. Considering the prevalence of fish ladders around the world, you would think many turn-key solutions exist for fish ladder monitoring needs. However, our FABLAB technicians quickly discovered that ladder-ready automated fish counters are not easily available, so we turned to our trusted alternative – and decided to build one ourselves. … ” Continue reading at the FishBio blog here:  Moving up a rung: A custom automated fish ladder monitoring system

Science calendarDredgeFest California seeking faculty, practicing designers, scientists, industry professionals, policymakers, regulators, junior scholars, advanced students, and other interested parties to join the DredgeFest California workshops in June:  “DredgeFest California takes place in the Bay Area June 13-19, 2016. It combines an intensive scenario planning workshop, held at U.C. Berkeley, with a series of tours open to the public.  DredgeFest California will focus on the sedimentary challenges and potentials of the Bay-Delta system of San Francisco. The workshop teams at DredgeFest California will collaborate to produce innovative design and landscape planning that will advance strategies for where that sediment can come from, how it can be delivered, and how it should be placed.”  Note: To participate in the workshops, you must apply by March 15.  Click here for more information.

Journal article: Life history diversity in Klamath River steelhead:Oncorhynchus mykiss exhibits a vast array of life histories, which increases its likelihood of persistence by spreading risk of extirpation among different pathways. The Klamath River basin (California–Oregon) provides a particularly interesting backdrop for the study of life history diversity in O. mykiss, in part because the river is slated for a historic and potentially
influential dam removal and habitat recolonization project. We used scale and otolith strontium isotope (87Sr/86Sr) analyses to characterize life history diversity in wild O. mykiss from the lower Klamath River basin. We also determined maternal origin (anadromous or nonanadromous) and migratory history (anadromous or nonanadromous) of O. mykiss and compared length and fecundity at age between anadromous (steelhead) and nonanadromous (Rainbow Trout) phenotypes of O. mykiss. We identified a total of 38 life history categories at maturity, which differed in duration of freshwater and ocean rearing, age at maturation, and incidence of repeat spawning. Approximately 10% of adult fish sampled were nonanadromous. Rainbow Trout generally grew faster in freshwater than juvenile steelhead; however, ocean growth afforded adult steelhead greater length and fecundity than adult Rainbow Trout. Although 75% of individuals followed the migratory path of their mother, steelhead produced nonanadromous progeny and Rainbow Trout produced anadromous progeny. Overall, we observed a highly diverse array of life histories among Klamath River O. mykiss. While this diversity should increase population resilience, recent declines in the abundance of Klamath River steelhead suggest that life history diversity alone is not sufficient to stabilize a population. Our finding that steelhead and Rainbow Trout give rise to progeny of the alternate form (1) suggests that dam removal might lead to a facultatively anadromous O. mykiss population in the upper basin and (2) raises the question of whether both forms of O. mykiss in the Klamath River should be managed under the same strategy.”  Click here to download the article.

Colorado River flows reduced by warmer spring temperatures:Warmer-than-average spring temperatures reduce upper Colorado River flows more than previously recognized, according to a new report from a University of Arizona-led team.  Although climate models have suggested that spring temperatures affect stream flow, this study is the first to examine the instrumental historical record to see if a temperature effect could be detected, said lead author Connie Woodhouse, a UA professor of geography and development and of dendrochronology.  “Forecasts of stream flow are largely based on precipitation,” Woodhouse said. “What we’re seeing since the 1980s is that temperature plays a larger role in stream flow and in exacerbating drought.” … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Colorado River flows reduced by warmer spring temperatures

Methane matters: Scientists Work to Quantify the Effects of a Potent Greenhouse Gas:For a chemical compound that shows up nearly everywhere on the planet, methane still surprises us. It is one of the most potent greenhouse gases, and yet the reasons for why and where it shows up are often a mystery. What we know for sure is that a lot more methane (CH4) has made its way into the atmosphere since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Less understood is why the ebb and flow of this gas has changed in recent decades.  You can find the odorless, transparent gas miles below Earth’s surface and miles above it. Methane bubbles up from swamps and rivers, belches from volcanoes, rises from wildfires, and seeps from the guts of cows and termites (where is it made by microbes). Human settlements are awash with the gas. Methane leaks silently from natural gas and oil wells and pipelines, as well as coal mines. It stews in landfills, sewage treatment plants, and rice paddies. … ”  Read more from Earth Observatory here:

USGS Science for an El Nino winter: El Niño is a phenomenon that occurs when unusually warm ocean water piles up along the equatorial west coast of South America. When this phenomenon develops, it affects weather patterns around the globe, including the winter weather along the west coast of North America. This unusual pattern of sea surface temperatures occurs in irregular cycles about three to seven years apart.  During an El Niño year, California and parts of the southern U.S. can be subject to a cold, wet winter. Winter is normally the rainy season in California, and during past El Niño winters (especially in really strong El Niño years, like this one), greater-than-usual numbers of storms arrive, one after another, resulting in wetter-than-usual winters with large amounts of rain on the coast and snow in the mountains. Some El Niño years (especially weak to moderate El Niños) result in dryer than average years in California and the West Coast, providing few storms to wet the landscape. ... ”  Read more from the USGS here:  USGS Science for an El Nino winter

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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