Science news: Designing for uncertainty with Theory U; California’s Delta-groundwater nexus; Missing the boat on freshwater fish conservation in California; Measuring drought in more than dollars and cents; and more …

Shasta Lake from space

Shasta Lake from space, March 30, 2016

In science news this week: Designing for uncertainty with Theory U; California’s Delta-groundwater nexus:  Delta effects of ending Central Valley groundwater overdraft; Call for abstracts for the Bay Delta Science Conference; Winter-run woes; Missing the boat on freshwater fish conservation in California; Peter Moyle selected as fellow of the Ecological Society of America; Lake Tahoe water clarity declined in 2015; Nature Journaling: John Muir Laws and the Art of Slowing Down, Sitting Still, and Paying Attention; Measuring drought in more than dollars and cents; April 2016 El Nino/La Nina update:  What goes up …

Designing for uncertainty with Theory U:  “As anyone who has ever tried to work with a group on a complex design challenge knows, uncertainty is one of the most predictable parts of the job. Whether the topic is groundwater management, farm-worker housing, or building a local food alliance, project leaders are faced with the same challenge: they must bring together diverse stakeholders with divergent views to solve complex problems in rapidly changing political and environmental conditions. In this context, solutions are emergent – that is, they arise through the process and cannot be planned and predicted in advance. Groups often hire facilitators to help them find a sense of certainty and a clear path forward through terrain that, in reality, can offer neither. So how do we serve our clients while also being true to the conditions of the challenges they are facing?  One tool that we at Ag Innovations find incredibly useful is the process described by Otto Scharmer of MIT in Theory U. … ”  Read more from Ag Innovations here:  Designing for uncertainty with Theory U

California’s Delta-groundwater nexus:  Delta effects of ending Central Valley groundwater overdraft: Surface water and groundwater management are often tightly linked, even when linkage is not intended or expected. This link has special importance in drier regions, such as California. A recent paper examines the economic and water management effects of ending long-term overdraft in California’s Central Valley, the state’s largest aquifer system.  These effects include changes in regional and statewide surface water diversions, groundwater pumping, groundwater recharge, water scarcity, and resulting operating and water scarcity costs. … ”  Read more here:  California’s Delta-groundwater nexus: Delta effects of ending Central Valley groundwater overdraft?

Call for abstracts for the Bay Delta Science Conference:The Biennial Bay-Delta Science Conference is a forum for presenting technical analyses and results relevant to the Delta Science Program’s mission to provide the best possible, unbiased, science-based information for water and environmental decision-making in the Bay-Delta system. The goal of the conference is to provide new information and syntheses to the broad community of scientists, engineers, resource managers, and stakeholders working on Bay-Delta issues. The organizers of this 9th Science Conference are seeking presentations that support this goal.  The deadline for abstracts is June 3, 2016. The conference theme this year is “Science for Solutions: Linking Data and Decisions.””  Click here for more information.

Winter-run woes:  “Usually, “winter” makes people think of cold, blowing snow, and ice – but no winter-run Chinook salmon alive today experience conditions like that. In fact, the only existing winter-run Chinook salmon population in the world is located in hot, dry California. Chinook salmon, and all other Pacific salmon and trout in the genus Oncorhynchus, require cool, fast flowing water for survival, especially during their sensitive early life stages. These days, with severe drought and record high temperatures, it is hard to imagine how any Pacific salmon or trout populations became established in California, the southernmost and warmest limit of the distribution of Pacific salmon around the world. About half of salmon eggs laid are expected not to survive at temperatures greater than 60° F,  and no eggs survive at temperatures greater than 62°F (Myrick and Cech 2001). While summer Sacramento River temperatures can exceed 70°F, these cool-water loving fish have been able to survive in California by mostly avoiding inhospitable warm river conditions – until the current drought changed things. … ”  Read more from the Fish Bio blog here:  Winter-run woes

Missing the boat on freshwater fish conservation in California:  ““Population growth and increasing water-use pressures threaten California’s freshwater ecosystems and have led many native fishes to the brink of extinction.”  Several researchers at the Center for Watershed Sciences, Theodore Grantham, Ryan Peek, Eric Holmes, Rebecca M. Quiñones, Andy Bell, Nick Santos, Jeanette K. Howard, Joshua H. Viers, and Peter B. Moyle, recently published a paper that discusses systematic conservation planning for fish.  To guide fish conservation efforts, we provide the first systematic prioritization of river catchments and identify those that disproportionately contribute to fish taxonomic diversity. ... ”  Read more from UC Davis here:  Missing the boat on freshwater fish conservation in California

Peter Moyle selected as fellow of the Ecological Society of America:  “Peter Moyle, a distinguished professor emeritus in the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology, has been selected as a fellow of the Ecological Society of America (ESA). Moyle is a leading authority on California freshwater fish and has been a UC Davis educator since 1972. He has a prolific record of publishing ... ”  Read more from UC David here:  Peter Moyle selected as fellow of the Ecological Society of America

Lake Tahoe water clarity declined in 2015:Clarity levels at Lake Tahoe in 2015 declined in both summer and winter, due in part to warmer waters, according to researchers at the University of California, Davis, who have studied the lake for the last half-century.  Data released today by the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency reported the average annual clarity level for 2015 at 73.1 feet. That is the depth at which a 10-inch white disk, called a Secchi disk, remains visible when lowered into the water.  … ”  Read more from UC Davis here:  Lake Tahoe water clarity declined in 2015

Nature Journaling: John Muir Laws and Art of Slowing Down, Sitting Still, and Paying Attention: Writers, naturalists, and scientists in all disciplines use journals to preserve what they have seen, done, and thought in the course of their work. As a naturalist, educator, and artist, I have found that my journal is the most important tool I carry into the field with me; it is even more necessary than my binoculars. Sketching and writing as you explore is the most effective thing you can do to launch yourself in the process of discovery.  Observing and journaling will slow you down and make you stop, sit down, look, and look again. How often do we take the time to be still, quiet, and attentive? Engaging in this process helps you organize your thoughts, piece together answers, and ask richer questions. Once you slow down and look long enough to record observations in your journal, mysteries will unfold before you. At the core of all science are insatiable curiosity and deep observation, qualities that lead to the best kind of learning: learning motivated by your intrinsic wonder and hunger to understand. … ”  Read more at Bay-Nature here: Nature Journaling: John Muir Laws and the Art of Slowing Down, Sitting Still, and Paying Attention

Measuring drought in more than dollars and cents:  “The standard way to measure the impact of drought is by its economic effect. Last year, for example, the severity California’s four-year drought was broadly characterized by an estimate that it would cost the state’s economy $2.7 billion and 21,000 jobs.  However, there are many experts who feel economic measures alone are inadequate to fully assess the impact of this complex phenomenon, which affected more than one billion people worldwide in the last decade. They argue that there is an urgent need to come up with better methods for measuring the overall effects of drought because the duration and severity of droughts are widely expected to increase in the future due to global warming. … ”  Read more from EurekAlert here:  Measuring drought in more than dollars and cents

El Nino’s warmth devastates coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean:  “A team of marine scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology and University of Victoria have returned from nearly a month of scuba diving on coral reefs in the middle of the equatorial Pacific Ocean. What they saw will haunt them for a long time.  “It’s as if someone has thrown a fuzzy red/brown blanket over the reef, turning it all one color,” says Kim Cobb, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. “Right now it looks okay from afar, with all the coral structure still in place. But when you get up close, you see that it’s all dead, as far as the eye can see. It’s very eerie.” … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  El Nino’s warmth devastates coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean

April 2016 El Nino/La Nina update:  What goes up …It will soon be time to bid good-bye to the strong El Niño of 2015-2016. Forecasters anticipate that sea surface temperatures in the Niño3.4 region will drop below the El Niño threshold (0.5°C above the long-term average) in the late spring or early summer. After more than a year of El Niño conditions, what’s next?  First, though—what’s now?  The average anomaly (departure from average) in the Niño3.4 region during March still reflected a strong El Niño, at 1.6°C in the ERSSTv4 dataset. However, this was a substantial drop from February’s 2.0°C, which is what we’d expect during the demise of an El Niño. … ”  Read more from Climate.gov here:  April 2016 El Nino/La Nina update: What goes up …

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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