Science news: Hidden, local climate effects of drought-friendly vegetation; Visualizing flows: A sandbox experience with modeling; California Salmon Cam; The power of blue carbon in a changing climate; How to make rocket science beautiful; and more …

NASA fuel cell

A look inside the SLS fuel tank (photo by NASA)

In science news this week: Hidden, local climate effects of drought-friendly vegetation; Visualizing flows: A sandbox experience with modeling; California Salmon Cam: Watch migratory fish live; Bringing wetlands to market: the power of blue carbon in a changing climate; New Washington wetland “bank” advances fish restoration; California current system could experience weak El Nino-related impacts, study says; Drought conditions slow the growth of Douglas fir trees across the West; Researching the wet, wild world of atmospheric rivers; Hidden pollution exchange between oceans and groundwater revealed; Toxic blue-green algae adapt to rising CO2 levels; NASA’s secret art studio: how to make rocket science beautiful; And lastly … 10 interesting facts about geodes

Hidden, local climate effects of drought-friendly vegetation:  “To address the recent drought in California, policymakers have created incentives for homeowners to replace existing lawns with drought tolerant vegetation. However, new research from George Ban-Weiss, an assistant professor in the Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, has found that these efforts might have some hidden consequences on local climate.  Ban-Weiss and post-doctoral scholar Pouya Vahmani used a model of the Los Angeles basin to investigate the climate impacts of widespread adoption of drought tolerant vegetation. Their findings, put forth in the article “Climatic Consequences of Adopting Drought Tolerant Vegetation over Los Angeles as a Response to the California Drought” in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, indicate that in fact, if all lawns were replaced with drought tolerant vegetation, that Angelenos could expect an average daytime warming of 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit due largely to decreased evaporative cooling, as irrigation is stopped. … ”  Read more from EurkAlert here:  Hidden, local climate effects of drought-friendly vegetation

Visualizing flows: A sandbox experience with modeling:  “In winter quarter 2016, Dr. Colleen Bronner of the UC Davis Department of Civil Engineering gathered a small group of graduate students and posed a challenge. To support new education standards involving teaching engineering methods throughout K-12 education, Dr. Bronner asked the graduate students design education outreach modules that reflected their research work in engineering. The modules should engage students in understanding the work of engineers while satisfying several Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core Math Standards. Ultimately, the modules needed to be accessible for K-12 teachers to use.  Challenge accepted. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Visualizing flows: A sandbox experience with modeling

California Salmon Cam: Watch migratory fish live:  “Welcome to Salmon Cam, where you can enjoy the underwater happenings of a California salmon river throughout the day, on your computer or device.  The Salmon Cam is located in a tributary creek on The Nature Conservancy’s Shasta Big Springs Ranch. The camera is powered on in daylight hours (currently between 7 am and 7 pm Pacific time). Throughout the season, it will provide a view of migrating Chinook and coho salmon and steelhead trout. ... ”  Read more from the Cool Green Science here:  Salmon Cam: Watch migratory fish live

Bringing wetlands to market: the power of blue carbon in a changing climate:  “Welcome to Making Waves, a podcast from the NOAA National Ocean Service.  I’m Megan Forbes, and in this podcast we’re going to focus on an issue of great importance to our environment – climate change… or rather, efforts to adapt to climate change.  One community in Massachusetts, the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, has developed an innovative set of tools designed around the concept of blue carbon, or the carbon captured by the world’s ocean and coastal ecosystems. You’ve probably heard that human activities give off something known as carbon dioxide, which contains atmospheric carbon. You might also know that these gases are changing the world’s climate, and not in a good way. What you may not know is that our ocean and coasts provide a natural way of reducing the impact of greenhouse gases on our atmosphere, through taking in of this carbon. Coastal wetlands act as something called a carbon sink, sequestering carbon at a much faster rate than forests and continuing to do so for millions of years. … ”  Read more or download podcast from NOAA here: Bringing wetlands to market: The power of blue carbon in a changing climate

New Washington wetland “bank” advances fish restoration:  “A new kind of “bank” NOAA Fisheries has approved in southwest Washington will use a novel approach to fund restoration and long-term protection of more than 300 acres of prime wetland and river habitat along the Coweeman River, promoting recovery of threatened salmon and steelhead.  Developers may purchase credits from the Coweeman River Mitigation Bank to offset the impacts of new developments within the same region along the lower Columbia River. The credits effectively represent shares in the mitigation bank, whose private sponsor, Habitat Bank LLC, will use the funds to pay for the restoration and continued stewardship of the Coweeman project.  The project is the first mitigation bank in Washington designed to offset impacts on both wetlands and fish habitat under the respective authorities of the Corps of Engineers and NOAA, and the Washington State Departments of Ecology and Fish and Wildlife, and is the first bank NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region has approved for mitigation of impacts on fish protected by the Endangered Species Act ... ”  Read more from the NOAA here:  New Washington wetland “bank” advances fish restoration

California current system could experience weak El Nino-related impacts, study says:  “A CPO-funded study published in Geophysical Research Letters concluded that although tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures hit a record high during the 2015-2016 El Niño, impacts to marine ecosystems and primary production are likely to be weak in the California Current Stystem. These impacts are expected to be weak because Kelvin waves and weakened upwelling-favorable winds did not accompany the anomalously warm temperatures in 2015-2016.  The study’s findings highlight El Niño’s potential to influence different regions in a number of ways. While the 2015-2016 El Niño is not expected to trigger widespread changes to the north Pacific’s ecosystems, El Niño events of similar magnitudes (1982-1983 and 1997-1998) resulted in significant changes to ecosystems in the North Pacific. Ocean physics, chemistry, and biology can be influenced due to El Niño’s effects on ocean wave propagation, as well as tropical convection and advection. ... ”  Read more from Climate.gov here:  California current system could experience weak El Nino-related impacts, study says

Drought conditions slow the growth of Douglas fir trees across the West: Whether growing along the rim of the Grand Canyon or living in the mist with California’s coastal redwoods, Douglas fir trees are consistently sensitive to drought conditions that occur throughout the species’ range in the United States, according to a study led by a researcher at the University of California, Davis.  The study, published Aug. 8 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides direct evidence of the negative impact of water stress on forest ecosystems. It also pinpointed which conditions are causing low growth among Douglas fir trees.  “Warm, dry conditions can push these trees beyond their threshold of tolerance,” said lead author Christina Restaino, a postdoctoral researcher in the UC Davis Department of Environmental Science and Policy. … ”  Read more from the Science Daily here:  Drought conditions slow the growth of Douglas fir trees across the West

Researching the wet, wild world of atmospheric rivers: When a molecule of water vapor heads toward the poles, it may well be hitching a ride on an atmospheric river (AR). A growing amount of research is zeroing in on these narrow but powerful channels of airborne moisture, which are far more widespread and influential than scientists once thought. Garden-variety ARs tend to have a beneficial influence overall, but the biggest and baddest ARs can produce colossal rainfall and snowfall and major destruction. And Godzilla notwithstanding, major AR events are actually no more likely to strike California during El Niño than during La Niña.  I’m getting up to speed on ARs this week at the 2016 International Atmospheric Rivers Conference. Close to 100 forecasters and researchers are gathered here at a global epicenter of AR science: the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.  … ”  Read more from the Weather Underground here:  Researching the wet, wild world of atmospheric rivers

Hidden pollution exchange between oceans and groundwater revealed:  “Researchers have uncovered previously hidden sources of ocean pollution along more than 20 percent of America’s coastlines.  The study, published online Aug. 4 in the journal Science, offers the first-ever map of underground drainage systems that connect fresh groundwater and seawater, and also pinpoints sites where drinking water is most vulnerable to saltwater intrusion now and in the future.  Audrey Sawyer, assistant professor of earth sciences at The Ohio State University and leader of the study, said that while scientists have long known that freshwater and seawater mix unseen below ground, until now they hadn’t been able to pinpoint exactly where it was happening, or how much. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Hidden pollution exchange between oceans and groundwater revealed

Toxic blue-green algae adapt to rising CO2 levels:  “A common type of blue-green algae is finding it easy to adapt to Earth’s rising CO2 levels, meaning blue-green algae — of which there are many toxin-producing varieties — are even more adept at handling changing climatic conditions than scientists previously supposed. A team of microbiologists at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) are reporting this finding in the journal PNAS this week, and point here at implications for clean drinking water, swimming safety and freshwater ecosystems.  The research team, led by Professor of Aquatic Microbiology Jef Huisman, trained their microscopes on Microcystis, a type of blue-green algae that proliferate in lakes and reservoirs in summer. … ” Read more from Science Daily here:  Toxic blue-green algae adapt to rising CO2 levels

NASA’s secret art studio: how to make rocket science beautiful:  “If you’ve marveled at space news recently, there’s a good chance it’s thanks to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This arm of Nasa is responsible for the most ambitious of missions, like sending robots to Mars and, most recently, the Juno spacecraft to Jupiter.  But the JPL has another under-the-radar mission: uniting two uncommon bedfellows – design and science – in new and meaningful ways. … ”  Read more from the Guardian here:  NASA’s secret art studio: how to make rocket science beautiful

And lastly … 10 interesting facts about geodes:  Not really water related, but just because I think it’s cool: “Geodes are geological secondary structures which occur in certain sedimentary and volcanic rocks. They are themselves of sedimentary origin formed by chemical precipitation. ... ”  You really have to see them to appreciate them.  Go here:  10 interesting facts about geodes (P.S. If you like this sort of thing, may I recommend the 75th annual Gem-O-Rama … )

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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