Science news: It’s snow joke: Fish need snowpack; Researchers implant electronic tags to track journey of juvenile salmon; Climate models guide billion-dollar water infrastructure decisions in the Colorado Basin; and more …

Columbia River diatoms
Columbia River diatoms; Photo courtesy of PNNL
In science news this week: It’s snow joke:  Fish need snowpack; Researchers implant electronic tags to track journey of juvenile salmon; Climate models guide billion-dollar water infrastructure decisions in the Colorado Basin; More than half of the streamflow in the upper Colorado River Basin originates as groundwater; Leftover warm water in Pacific Ocean fueled massive El Nino

It’s snow joke:  Fish need snowpack:  “Fish might be the furthest thing on the minds of skiers and snowboarders carving the Sierra slopes, but the amount of mountain snowpack that accumulates in winter months directly affects fish in California’s Central Valley, which rely on snowmelt to cool rivers and streams in warmer spring and summer months. In “normal” years when California is not burdened by extensive drought conditions, 30% of the state’s water supply is stored in the mountain snowpack. When minimal snow accumulates during warmer, drier winters, this results in weak flows in the months that desperately need a reliable source of runoff to cool the warming rivers. Cold-water fish species, such as the Chinook salmon and rainbow trout, have been struggling in California due to extensive drought conditions, and the amount of water stored as snow on mountain peaks plays a critical role in their survival. … ”  Read more from the FishBio blog here:  It’s snow joke:  Fish need snowpack

Researchers implant electronic tags to track journey of juvenile salmon:Using tags surgically implanted into thousands of juvenile salmon, UBC researchers have discovered that many fish die within the first few days of migration from their birthplace to the ocean.  “We knew that on average 10 to 40 million smolts leave Chilko Lake every year and only about 1.5 million return as adults two years later,” said Nathan Furey, researcher and a PhD candidate in the faculty of forestry. “It’s always been a mystery about what happens in between.”  Researchers from the Pacific Salmon Ecology and Conservation Laboratory at UBC followed the migration of one of B.C.’s largest sockeye populations from Chilko Lake, in British Columbia’s Cariboo region, to the ocean. Each spring, juvenile salmon known as smolts leave this central B.C. lake and migrate downstream through the Chilko, Chilcotin, and Fraser rivers and into the Salish Sea. … ”   Read more from Phys Org here: Researchers implant electronic tags to track journey of juvenile salmon

Climate models guide billion-dollar water infrastructure decisions in the Colorado Basin:  “Colorado River water sustains a head of broccoli growing in a field in Yuma, Arizona, and flows from a tap to fill a glass in Las Vegas. As the Colorado River spills through seven southwestern states and parts of Northern Mexico, more than 40 million people depend on its water.  Winding through the high desert, across Colorado, Utah, Arizona and on down the California border, the river irrigates nearly 5 million acres of crops worth billions of dollars annually, nourishes plant and animal life in 11 national parks, and powers more than 4000 megawatts of electricity. The Colorado is also essential to the life and culture of 22 federally recognized tribes. … ”  Read more from Climate.gov here:  Climate models guide billion-dollar water infrastructure decisions in the Colorado Basin

More than half of the streamflow in the upper Colorado River Basin originates as groundwater: More than half of the streamflow in the Upper Colorado River Basin originates as groundwater, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study published in the journal Water Resources Research.  The entire Colorado River Basin currently supports 50 million people, and that amount is expected to increase by 23 million between 2000 and 2030. On average, 90 percent of streamflow in the Colorado River Basin originates in the Upper Basin, which is the area above Lees Ferry, Arizona. This water has a multitude of uses that include irrigation, municipal and industrial purposes, electric power generation, mining activities, recreation, and supporting habitat for livestock, fish and wildlife. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  More than half of the streamflow in the upper Colorado River Basin originates as groundwater

Leftover warm water in Pacific Ocean fueled massive El Nino:A new study provides insight into how the current El Niño, one of the strongest on record, formed in the Pacific Ocean. The new research finds easterly winds in the tropical Pacific Ocean stalled a potential El Niño in 2014 and left a swath of warm water in the central Pacific. The presence of that warm water stacked the deck for a monster El Niño to occur in 2015, according to the study’s authors. El Niño and La Niña are the warm and cool phases of a recurring climate pattern across the tropical Pacific Ocean called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO. The warm and cool phases shift back and forth every two to seven years, and each phase triggers predictable disruptions in temperature, wind, and rain across the globe. During El Niño events, water temperatures at the sea surface are higher than normal. Low-level surface winds, which normally blow east to west along the equator, or easterly winds, start blowing the other direction, west to east, or westerly. … ” Read more from NOAA here: Leftover warm water in Pacific Ocean fueled massive El Nino

Maven’s XKCD Comic Pick of the Week …

And lastly … Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver on how and why media outlets so often report untrue or incomplete information as science

 

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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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