Science news: Green sturgeon on the rise? Time will tell; Rainbow trout hit hard by hot water; A high-tech glimpse of restored wetlands; How to explain scientific consensus – with cake; 10 interesting things about water; and more …

A school of anthias (Pseudanthias bartlettorum) and a school of white tip sharks at Jarvis Island. Photo by NOAA.

A school of anthias and a school of white tip sharks at Jarvis Island. Photo by NOAA.

In science news this week: Green sturgeon on the rise? Time will tell; Rainbow trout hit hard by hot water; A high-tech glimpse of restored wetlands; Slower snowmelt affects downstream water availability in Western mountains; Logging can decrease water infiltration into forest soils, study finds; How to explain scientific consensus – with cake; NOAA launches America’s first national water forecast model; August 2016 ENSO update: Wavy gravy; And lastly … 10 interesting things about water

Green sturgeon on the rise? Time will tell …Green sturgeon is a rarity these days for a fish species found in the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta – but its numbers could be increasing.  While high-profile Delta species such as Delta smelt and Winter-run Chinook salmon are at record lows and facing possible extinction, that doesn’t seem to be the case with Sacramento River green sturgeon – listed as threatened by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) under the Endangered Species Act in 2006.  Recent efforts to assist green sturgeon appear to be helping. Whether the increase marks a long-term trend is to be determined. … ”  Read more from the US FWS here:  Green sturgeon on the rise? Time will tell …

Rainbow trout hit hard by hot water: The Stanislaus River is home to one of the largest populations of rainbow trout in California’s Central Valley, but a new report shows the fish have suffered a precipitous decline during the state’s ongoing drought. Every summer since 2009, FISHBIO scientists have snorkeled the Stanislaus River to conduct an annual trout count. The results of our 2015 survey show that rainbow trout abundance declined by 75 percent from an average of 20,000 over the previous six years, to just 5,000 fish in 2015 (download report). This troubling trend comes on the heels of very warm water temperatures in 2014 and 2015. Worse is likely in store for the fish because trout numbers tend to decline one year after a hot summer, and 2015 was even warmer than 2014 (with 2016 shaping up to be a warm year too). As we prepare to begin our annual Stanislaus River trout count, we’re expecting to find even fewer fish this year. We describe the current plight of the fish in a new video, The Future of Rainbow Trout on the Stanislaus River. … ”  Read more from the FishBio blog here:  Rainbow trout hit hard by hot water

A high-tech glimpse of restored wetlands:  “San Francisco Bay is the largest estuary on the West Coast, and in recent years much effort has been put into restoring tidal marsh habitat in the Bay. As people flooded to the area beginning in the mid nineteenth century, this wetland habitat was considered wasted space and was deliberately filled in, or ‘reclaimed’ for agriculture and development, which reduced the size of the Bay by a third. Today, only about 8 percent of the historic marshlands still remain, but that number is growing quickly thanks to numerous restoration projects around the Bay. FISHBIO was recently invited to tour one such project in the North Bay, where we had the opportunity to use our ARIS sonar camera to examine the fish community in the restored area. Project developers had incorporated a number of unique designs into the restoration project, including root wads and mounds that they hoped would increase the amount of sediment deposited. They were eager to see if these components had an influence on the fish community in the area. ... ”  Read more from the FishBio blog here:  A high-tech glimpse of restored wetlands

Slower snowmelt affects downstream water availability in Western mountains:  “Western communities are facing effects of a warming climate with slower and earlier snowmelt reducing streamflows and possibly the amount of water reaching reservoirs used for drinking water and agriculture, according to a study published in July.  “As the climate warms, there is actually a slower snowmelt — both in timing and rates, which makes for a less efficient streamflow,” Adrian Harpold, ecohydrologist at the University of Nevada, Reno said. Harpold, who initiated the study two years ago at the University of Colorado Boulder, is a co-author of the paper published in AGU publications Geophysical Research Letters. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Slower snowmelt affects downstream water availability in western mountains

Logging can decrease water infiltration into forest soils, study finds: Soil water infiltration, or the ability of soil to absorb water and allow it to move through different soil layers, is an important environmental factor in forests, especially forests undergoing logging operations. This property can affect how quickly those forests can regenerate after being logged. Now, University of Missouri researchers have found that logging operations can negatively affect soil density and water infiltration within forests, particularly along makeshift logging roads and landing areas where logs are stored before being trucked to sawmills. Stephen Anderson, the William A. Albrecht Distinguished Professor of Soil Science at Mizzou, says changing the soil density and water infiltration within forests can cause many different problems. ... ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Logging can decrease water infiltration into forest soils, study finds

How to explain scientific consensus – with cake:  ” … The first thing a scientist needs to decide  when explaining scientific consensus is whether it is truly “science” or “scientific consensus” that is being questioned. If a person doesn’t believe in science because it conflicts with their faith…no amount of explanation is going to persuade that individual. Faith is the belief in something without evidence. Science is knowledge gained through studying evidence. They are diametrically opposed. Antonyms, if you will. No single conversation will cause someone to lose their faith. But if the question is genuinely, “how do you explain scientific consensus?” then that can be described thusly…  Time to talk cake. … ”  Continue reading from Steve Sobieszczck’s blog here:  How to explain scientific consensus – with cake

NOAA launches America’s first national water forecast model: New tool hailed as a game changer for predicting floods, informing water-related decisions:NOAA and its partners have developed a new forecasting tool to simulate how water moves throughout the nation’s rivers and streams, paving the way for the biggest improvement in flood forecasting the country has ever seen.  Launched today and run on NOAA’s powerful new Cray XC40 supercomputer, the National Water Model uses data from more than 8,000 U.S. Geological Survey gauges to simulate conditions for 2.7 million locations in the contiguous United States. The model generates hourly forecasts for the entire river network. Previously, NOAA was only able to forecast streamflow for 4,000 locations every few hours. … ”  Read more from the NOAA here:  NOAA launches America’s first national water forecast model

August 2016 ENSO update: Wavy gravy: It’s August already, El Niño is long gone, and we’re still stuck in neutral. Is La Niña on the way? And is anything interesting going on in the tropical Pacific?  Currently, forecasters think there’s a slightly better than 50% chance of La Niña developing in August–October and then a 55-60% chance during the winter. Right now, it looks like if La Niña does manage to form and last the five consecutive, overlapping seasons necessary to qualify as an ENSO event, it’s likely to be a weak one.  Let’s start by checking in with current conditions. During July, sea surface temperature in the Nino3.4 region of the tropical Pacific was -0.21°C (-0.38°F) below average, according to ERSSTv4, the dataset we use for all our forecast verification. You may have also seen the monthly value for July from the OISST dataset, which was -0.49°C below average. Which one’s right? ... ”  Read more from the ENSO blog here:  August 2016 ENSO update: Wavy gravy

And lastly … 10 interesting things about water: Water could be the key to finding life: There aren’t many qualities that are true of all life on Earth, but the need for water is one of them. It’s in all living things, whether they live at the bottom of the ocean or the driest desert. Water’s properties and abundance made life possible on Earth. Because of this, astrobiologists think our best bet for finding life on other planets is to search for water. … ”  Continue reading from NOAA here:  10 interesting things about water

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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