Science news: In search of mud to save San Francisco Bay; Tidal marsh restoration at Humboldt Bay; When hatchery salmon return to someone else’s home; The impacts of beach replenishment on coastal ecosystems; and more …

Oxbows in Bolivia

Oxbows in Bolivia, from USGS’s Earth as Art 4: A Fusion of Science and Art

In science news this week: In search of mud to save San Francisco Bay; Living coastline project will restore tidal marsh at Humboldt Bay; When hatchery salmon return to someone else’s home; Beach replenishment may have ‘far reaching’ impacts on coastal ecosystems; Storing extra surface water boosts groundwater supply during droughts; Laser reveals water’s secret life in soil; 3D elevation: The USGS has you covered in all 50 states; The El Niño Rapid Response Campaign: Monitoring the 2015-2016 El Niño from the land, sea, and air

Science calendarIn search of mud to save San Francisco Bay:  “Along the San Francisco Bay, just beyond the din of gridlock, industry and residential lawn mowers, an ecological transformation is quietly unfolding. A glance at satellite images or out of the flight window reveals a striking quilted landscape of green, red, orange and yellow colors hemmed to Silicon Valley.  The colors are from solar evaporation ponds used to make salt—greens from algae in low salinity ponds, orange hues from brine shrimp as the water gets saltier, and deep reds from pigments formed on the Dunaliella algae in the ponds where it’s so salty it’s called pickle. These are the remnants of the Bay’s centuries-old industry of evaporating water to refine salt. And they are slowly yielding to a curious human-driven experiment. … ”  Read more from Scientific American here:  In search of mud to save San Francisco Bay

Living coastline project will restore tidal marsh at Humboldt Bay: Fresh, brackish and salt waters mix within the landforms around Humboldt Bay, setting up the various physical and biological processes that form the mosaic of habitats that allow aquatic life to thrive.  These types of areas are called tidal marsh and they are among the most complex and productive landscapes in the world supporting a variety of organisms. One of the habitats that make Humboldt Bay’s ecological network tick is salt marsh, an area of salt tolerant vegetation that is regularly flooded by seawater. Here, vegetation will grow in the shallow, sunlit water, amidst soils and nutrients that ebb and flow in the Bay’s ever-shifting tides. … ”  Read more from the US FWS here:  Living coastline project will restore tidal marsh at Humboldt Bay

Lead astray: When hatchery salmon return to someone else’s home: Imagine trekking a thousand miles away from your birthplace as a child, then navigating back home for the first time as an adult using only your senses. Salmon are famous for doing just that when they leave the ocean to return to the very streams where they were born to lay their eggs. This impressive homing ability is believed to result from juvenile fish imprinting on stream odors when their smolting hormones spike during downstream migrations to the ocean. Adult fish subsequently recognize these olfactory cues when migrating upriver to spawn (reviewed by Dittman and Quinn 1996, Westley et al. 2013). Homing increases the likelihood that adult salmon will return to a hospitable environment and find food, shelter, mates, and adequate spawning conditions (Papi 1992). However, changes in hatchery practices in California have disrupted the ability of some salmon to find their way home, resulting in thousands of fish wandering into the wrong streams, with consequences for population genetic diversity, fitness, and productivity. … ”  Read more from FishBio here:  Lead astray: When hatchery salmon return to someone else’s home

Beach replenishment may have ‘far reaching’ impacts on coastal ecosystems: UC San Diego biologists who examined the biological impact of replenishing eroded beaches with offshore sand found that such beach replenishment efforts could have long-term negative impacts on coastal ecosystems.  The scientists, who studied the effects of beach replenishment efforts on the abundance of intertidal invertebrates at eight different beaches in San Diego County, discovered that the movement of sand onto those beaches resulted in a more than twofold reduction in the abundance of intertidal invertebrates after 15 months. ... ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Beach replenishment may have ‘far reaching’ impacts on coastal ecosystems

Storing extra surface water boosts groundwater supply during droughts:  “Although years of drought and over-pumping have significantly depleted groundwater in Arizona and California, a new study shows the situation has an upside: It has created underground reservoirs where extra surface water can be stored during wet times so it is available during drought.  The study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters in March, also found that regions that actively store surface water in underground aquifers have increased their groundwater supply over time, even as surrounding areas depleted theirs. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Storing extra surface water boosts groundwater supply during droughts

Laser reveals water’s secret life in soil:  “Most of us think nothing of rainfall or where it goes, unless it leads to flooding or landslides. But soil scientists have been studying how water moves across or through soil for decades. Daniel Hirmas, a professor at University of Kansas, and his team may be taking the study of soil hydrology to some exciting new territory. Territory that may help soil scientists manage water resources better.  Why is Hirmas trying to predict water movement in soil?  “There are a number of reasons why more accurate predictions of water flow is important. Better management of water resources is one,” Hirmas says. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Laser reveals water’s secret life in soil

3D elevation: The USGS has you covered in all 50 states: Spring is just around the corner, and that means it’s planting time for the Nation’s farmers. Many of them rely on high-tech farming practices such as in-depth analyses of soil samples, and prescription application of seed, fertilizer, water, pesticides and herbicides, and more.  For all of these applications, three-dimensional elevation data, and a whole host of other cutting-edge information are brought together in a process known as precision farming.  Precision farming is just one of many practices that are making use of unprecedented levels of scientific information about the environment and its natural processes. Well-established business uses increasing rely on three-dimensional elevation data, including natural disaster management, infrastructure construction and management, natural resources conservation aviation navigation, transportation planning, just to name a few. … ” Continue reading at the USGS here:  3D elevation: The USGS has you covered in all 50 states

The El Niño Rapid Response Campaign: Monitoring the 2015-2016 El Niño from the land, sea, and air:The ongoing El Niño of 2015-2016 is a historically strong event, the likes of which is only seen once or twice during a scientific career. Not wanting to let this opportunity pass by, scientists from NOAA and NASA have embarked on an unprecedented and exciting mission to observe this El Niño like no other El Niño has been observed before! From January to March 2016, scientists have been collecting data in a notoriously data-sparse region of the Pacific via Gulfstream jets, high-tech unmanned aircraft, ship cruises, weather balloon launches, and instruments dropped right out of aircraft. This effort is known as the El Niño Rapid Response campaign. … ” Read more from Climate.gov here:  The El Niño Rapid Response Campaign: Monitoring the 2015-2016 El Niño from the land, sea, and air

 

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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