Science news: Methane from some wetlands may lower benefits of carbon sequestration; The rise of the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge; NOAA releases draft climate science action plan for the West Coast; Cold mountain streams offer climate refuge; and more …

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In science news this week: Methane from some wetlands may lower benefits of carbon sequestration; The rise of the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge: Persistent high pressure in recent years led to extreme drought in California; NOAA releases draft climate science action plan for the West Coast; West Coast prepares for ‘double whammy’ threat to ocean health; California drought caused plants to evolve in just seven years; Cold mountain streams offer climate refuge; Fish science, policy, and monster fish: FishBio reports on Cal-Neva AFS in Reno; Snow-sensing fleet to unlock water’s icy secrets; Fertilizer’s legacy: Taking a toll on land and water; Restoring ecosystems: How to learn from our mistakes; Climate camps expose scientists and resource managers to the power of working together to address climate change; And lastly … Weird Conservation Part 2: The even stranger side of saving endangered species

Methane from some wetlands may lower benefits of carbon sequestration:  “Methane emissions from restored wetlands may offset the benefits of carbon sequestration a new study from the U.S. Geological Survey suggests. Wetlands are known to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide through plant photosynthesis and also provide habitat and food sources for wildlife, act as biological filters for improving water quality and improve coastal protection in the face of sea level rise. What is not well understood is how wetland production of other more potent greenhouses gases like methane offset these benefits. Results from the new study show that restored wetlands can release enough methane to reduce or even negate the benefits the same wetlands offer of carbon sequestration.  In the study, USGS, California Water Science Center Hydrologist Frank Anderson and a team of scientists collected data in 2002-2003 and 2010-2011 to estimate trends of carbon fluxes from restored wetlands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. From measuring wind speeds and gas concentrations, and computing photosynthesis and respiration rates, they concluded that carbon dioxide uptake decreased between the two sampling periods, while carbon dioxide respiration and methane emissions remained relatively consistent. Results show that the restored wetlands were a small source of carbon in 2010-2011. However, given the potency of methane as a strong greenhouse gas, the wetlands will likely be long-term sources of global warming potential. … ”  Read more from the USGS here:  Methane from some wetlands may lower benefits of carbon sequestration

Science calendarThe rise of the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge: Persistent high pressure in recent years led to extreme drought in California:Since early 2013, the state of California has been in the grip of an extraordinary multi-year drought. The accumulated precipitation deficit over the course of the ongoing drought is unprecedented in California’s century-long observational record, and when the additional drying effects of record-high temperatures are taken into account, the 2013-2016 event may in fact be the most severe in a millennium. The amount of water stored in the critically important Sierra Nevada snowpack reached its lowest level in over 500 years in 2015, and the loss of groundwater in the state’s aquifers has literally moved mountains. Drought-related impacts—including decreased agricultural and urban water availability, elevated wildfire risk, dramatically increased tree mortality, adverse effects upon riverine and marine ecosystems, and infrastructure damage to roads and pipelines —have been widespread. … ”  Continue reading at the California Weather Blog here:  The rise of the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge: Persistent high pressure in recent years led to extreme drought in California

NOAA releases draft climate science action plan for the West Coast:  “As part of its efforts to increase the production, delivery, and use of climate-related information, today, NOAA Fisheries released a draft climate science action plan for the U.S. West Coast. It outlines a strategy and specific actions for increasing understanding, preparing for, and responding to climate change effects on the region’s species and the people that depend on them, including marine and anadromous fish, invertebrates, marine mammals, sea turtles and seabirds.  Scientists can use the plan to prioritize and identify research gaps; while managers can use the results to identify potential impacts on resources and identify management approaches to reduce impacts on protected species and increase resilience of fish stocks, fisheries, and fishing-dependent communities. … ”  Read more from NOAA here: NOAA releases draft climate science action plan for the West Coast

West Coast prepares for ‘double whammy’ threat to ocean health: Rising levels of acidity in the ocean and growing areas of low-oxygen waters are a “double whammy” threat for fishing industries, ecosystems and economies along the U.S. West Coast and Canada’s British Columbia, according to new report by a panel of experts that includes NOAA scientists.  The study, conducted by the 20-member West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel, also comes with an action plan that will help coastal communities lessen their exposure to these twin challenges and boost their resilience to future changes. … ”  Read more from Climate.gov here:  West Coast prepares for ‘double whammy’ threat to ocean health

California drought caused plants to evolve in just seven years: We usually think of evolution as a long, laborious process, stretching over hundreds if not thousands of years. But sometimes, it happens much more quickly.  In a paper published today in Molecular Ecology researchers announced that they found genetic differences between the ancestors and descendants of two separate populations of field mustard both of which evolved during the California drought between 1997 and 2004 to flowers earlier. ... ”  Read more from Popular Science here:  California drought caused plants to evolve in just seven years

Cold mountain streams offer climate refuge:  “A new study offers hope for cold-water species in the face of climate change. The study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, addresses a longstanding paradox between predictions of widespread extinctions of cold-water species and a general lack of evidence for those extinctions despite decades of recent climate change.  … The scientists found that over the last 40 years, stream temperatures warmed at the average rate of 0.10 degrees Celsius (0.18 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade. This translates to thermal habitats shifting upstream at a rate of only 300-500 meters (0.18-0.31 miles) per decade in headwater mountain streams where many sensitive cold-water species currently live. The authors are quick to point out that climate change is still detrimentally affecting the habitats of those species, but at a much slower rate than dozens of previous studies forecast. The results of this study indicate that many populations of cold-water species will continue to persist this century and mountain landscapes will play an increasingly important role in that preservation.  … ”  Read more from the USGS here:  Cold mountain streams offer climate refuge

Fish science, policy, and monster fish: FishBio reports on Cal-Neva AFS in Reno:  “Fisheries scientists from California, Nevada, and beyond recently convened amid flashing casino lights in Reno for a meeting of the American Fisheries Society CalNeva Chapter and Western Division. More than 200 talks were presented in 16 symposia around the theme of “Fisheries, Society, and the Scientific Method: Challenging our perception of science, policy, and management.” A panel of plenary speakers explored the roles that scientists can play in the science-policy arena, whether providing factual information or advocating for a particular policy outcome; the need to highlight areas of consensus among the general scientific community; and how partnerships among scientists, policy makers, and communities can yield successful results. Experience from the relatively small case-study of Lake Tahoe provided some thought-provoking advice for large ecosystems like the San Francisco Bay-Delta: acknowledge if there are too many cooks in the research kitchen with too much focus on incremental science, and decide what you want to keep in the system vs. what you are willing to let go. ... ”  Read more from the FishBio blog here:  Fish science, policy, and monster fish

Snow-sensing fleet to unlock water’s icy secrets:  “The current instability and unpredictability of the world water cycle is here to stay, making society’s adaptation to new risks a vital necessity when formulating development policies, a UN water expert warns.  Robert Sandford, the EPCOR Chair for Water and Climate Security at the United Nations University’s Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH), says long-term water cycle stability “won’t return in the lifetime of anyone alive today.”  “What we haven’t understood until now is the extent to which the fundamental stability of our political structures and global economy are predicated on relative stability and predictability of the water cycle — that is, how much water becomes available in what part of the year. As a result of these new water-climate patterns, political stability and the stability of economies in most regions of the world are now at risk.” … ”  Read more from Nature News here:  Snow-sensing fleet to unlock water’s icy secrets

Fertilizer’s legacy: Taking a toll on land and water: The world’s total human population has jumped to over 7.4 billion just this year. Feeding the human species takes a tremendous toll on our natural resources including water, soil and phosphorus — a chemical element in fertilizer essential for food production.  In modern agriculture, fertilizer often leaks into waterways such as rivers, lakes and oceans. The phosphorus (P) in the runoff stimulates algae blooms and then, when algae die and decompose, dead zones develop and fish die off. But much of the “lost” phosphorus doesn’t end up in water bodies — large amounts of P also accumulate in the landscape. Until now, scientists have not had a good handle on the magnitude of this accumulation.  For the first time, an international group of scientists, including researchers from Arizona State University, has come up with a way to estimate on a large scale how phosphorus flows through an environment over many decades. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Fertilizer’s legacy: Taking a toll on land and water

Restoring ecosystems: How to learn from our mistakes:  “In a joint North European and North American study led by Umeå researcher Christer Nilsson, a warning is issued of underdocumented results of ecological restorations. The researchers show that continuous and systematic evaluations of cost-efficiency, planning, implementations and effects are necessary in order to make use of experiences in future projects. The results have been published in the journal Ecology and Society.  Concurrent with the accelerating degradation of the world’s ecosystem, an aspiration towards mitigating the negative effects on ecosystems has arisen. An increasing number of projects to reduce the destructive impacts and damages to nature caused by man is now underway around the globe. These projects are expensive, which means that both evaluations of cost-efficiency and results of restorations are important, but at present often of poor quality. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Restoring ecosystems: How to learn from our mistakes

Climate Camps Expose Scientists and Resource Managers to the Power of Working Together to Address Climate Change: “Each summer the Northwest Climate Science Center hosts a weeklong Climate Boot Camp. The CBC invites early career climate professionals from the Northwest and across the country to get together to expand their knowledge, skills and perspective on climate change adaptation. This annual event, now in its sixth year, is attended by early career professionals from federal and state agencies, tribes, universities and non-profit organizations. Watch this short video to hear insights from last year’s participants.  The Northwest Climate Science Center is a Department of the Interior initiative, sponsored by the USGS and jointly hosted by Oregon State University, the University of Idaho and the University of Washington. One objective of the NW CSC is to support and train graduate students and early career professionals to work at the interface of scientific research on climate and resource management decision-making.  In addition to the CBC, the NW CSC is partnering with the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and United Southern and Eastern Tribes to offer the inaugural Tribal Climate Camp. The CBC and TTCC will both take place at the UI’s McCall Field Campus in summer 2016. … ”  Read more from the USGS here:  Climate Camps Expose Scientists and Resource Managers to the Power of Working Together to Address Climate Change

And lastly … Weird Conservation Part 2: The even stranger side of saving endangered species:  “Nature is weird. But conservation is weirder. Really, really, really, weird.  Previously on Cool Green Science, we brought you seven examples of how conservationists have to get a little weird when trying to save endangered or threatened wildlife. Time marches on, extinction looms, and the weirdness gets weirder. Below are even more snippets from the (weird) annals of conservation, and we hope you’ll share your favorites in the comments … ”  Read more at the Cool Green Science blog here:  Weird Conservation Part 2: The even stranger side of saving endangered species

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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