SCIENCE NEWS: Alternatives to conservation in place for Delta smelt and other species; High-severity wildfires complicate natural regeneration for California conifers; Visiting the winter home of Western monarch butterflies; and more …

In science news this week: Options for orphan species:  Alternatives to conservation in place for Delta smelt and other species; High-severity wildfires complicate natural regeneration for California conifers; Virtual tour: Visiting the winter home of Western monarch butterflies; New maps illuminate Monterey Bay sea floor; NOAA releases climate Regional Action Plans; Designing agricultural landscapes with science and community engagement; Get your snowstorm smarts on: 6 forecast tools to use this winter; Taking stock of the world’s lakes; Extreme event attribution: the climate versus the weather blame game; Writing about La Niña, the U.S. and the Jet Stream and THIS HAPPENS; And lastly … A Mesmerizing Sequence of Biological Simulations by Maxime Causeret for Max Cooper’s ‘Order from Chaos’

Options for orphan species:  Alternatives to conservation in place for Delta smelt and other species:  “Off a bustling Delta highway, next door to a branch of the California Aqueduct, sprawls a tidy collection of shipping containers, humming pumps, and cylindrical tanks. Paved in cracked asphalt and encircled by chain link fencing, it resembles any number of light industrial sites at the margins of many communities.  In fact, this resolutely artificial site is devoted to preserving a disappearing piece of natural California: the Delta smelt.  “Our fish are a refuge population,” says Tien-Chieh Hung. Director of the UC Davis Fish Conservation and Culture Laboratory, Hung oversees this one-acre facility on the outskirts of the tiny town of Byron. … ”  Continue reading at Estuary News here:  Options for orphan species

High-severity wildfires complicate natural regeneration for California conifers: “A study spanning 10 national forests and 14 burned areas in California found that conifer seedlings were found in less than 60 percent of the study areas five to seven years after fire. Of the nearly 1,500 plots surveyed, 43 percent showed no natural conifer regeneration at all.  The study was co-led by UC Davis and the USDA Forest Service and published Dec 21 in the journal Ecosphere. It presents a tool to help foresters prioritize which lands to replant immediately after a fire, and which lands they can expect to regrow naturally.  “High-severity fires are knocking out seed sources and leading to a natural regeneration bottleneck, which poses a predicament for the sustainability of our forests,” said lead author Kevin Welch, a research associate with the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  High-severity wildfires complicate natural regeneration for California conifers

Virtual tour: Visiting the winter home of Western monarch butterflies:  “Have you ever seen the amazing assembly of monarch butterflies overwintering along California’s central coast? U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service public affairs specialist Joanna Gilkeson, packed up her camera equipment and drove north along California’s coast to see them for the first time.  “I hope to share the amazing story of monarch migration with people who don’t have the opportunity to personally visit the overwintering grounds,” she said. “Monarchs are declining, and maybe those very people will see these photos and want to help monarchs by planting milkweed or becoming a citizen scientist.”  Gilkeson grew up in Minnesota, where individual monarchs spend their summers looking for nectar and milkweed to lay their eggs before migrating to Mexico for the winter. And from an early age, the butterflies were the topic of many dinner table conversations. ... ”  Read more from the US FWS here:  Virtual tour: Visiting the winter home of Western monarch butterflies

New maps illuminate Monterey Bay sea floor:  “Six new sets of maps reveal the diverse and complex range of seafloor habitats along 130 kilometers (80 miles) of the central California coast from the Monterey Peninsula north to Pigeon Point. The publicly available maps can be used by a large stakeholder community to understand and manage California’s vast and valuable marine resources.   The new U.S. Geological Survey publications combine new and legacy data to reveal offshore bathymetry, habitats, geology and seafloor environments in stunningly high resolution. Environments range from the rugged granitic bedrock along the high-energy coasts of the Monterey Peninsula, to the bedrock reefs that form the world-class surfing point breaks on the Santa Cruz County coast, to the smooth sand and mud in a large delta bar at the mouth of the Salinas River, and to the steep walls and sinuous channels of one of the largest underwater canyon systems in the world. ... ”  Read more from the USGS here:  New maps illuminate Monterey Bay sea floor

NOAA releases climate Regional Action Plans: NOAA Fisheries released five climate Regional Action Plans to assist decision makers in preparing for and responding to climate-related changes in marine and coastal ecosystems. The RAP for the western region was developed by the Northwest and Southwest Fisheries Science Centers to evaluate the effects of a changing climate on marine and anadromous fish, invertebrates, marine mammals, sea turtles and seabirds in the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem.  … ”  More information here:  NOAA’s Regional Action Plans page

Designing agricultural landscapes with science and community engagement:  Kris Johnson and Derric Pennington write, “The Cedar Rapids Water Division has its headquarters, appropriately, just a few hundred yards east of the Cedar River, the source of drinking water for this second largest city in Iowa. This building is the epicenter of the Water Division’s work to provide clean water for the 126,000 residents and numerous industrial and food production facilities located in the city.  Rising levels of nitrate in the Cedar River make this work more important than ever. The Water Division building was also the location of a recent workshop organized by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment and Cedar Rapids. In this unique meeting, farmers, watershed coordinators, and partners from producer organizations and state and federal agencies crowded around large, interactive TVs to “design” a watershed that could support profitable farming and provide clean water as well. … ”  Read more from the Cool Green Science blog here:  Designing agricultural landscapes with science and community engagement

Get your snowstorm smarts on: 6 forecast tools to use this winter:  “Here’s a secret for you: At NOAA’s National Weather Service, we’re like kids when it comes to snow. We love it!  If you love snow like we do, become a “snow-it-all” in time for the start of the winter solstice, which starts today.  Geek out with us to learn about 6 winter weather forecast tools you can tinker with online. In the process, see where, when and how much snow, ice and wind is predicted — important information to share with your friends and family this winter ... ” Read more from NOAA here:  Get your snowstorm smarts on: 6 forecast tools to use this winter

Taking stock of the world’s lakes: The total shoreline of the world’s lakes is more than four times longer than the global ocean coastline. And if all the water in those lakes were spread over the Earth’s landmass, it would form a layer some four feet (1.3 metres) deep.  Those are just two of the big-picture findings to emerge from the most complete global database of lakes to date, compiled by geographers at McGill University. Their research, published in Nature Communications, promises to help scientists better understand the important role of lakes in the Earth’s complex environmental systems — from the hydrological cycle and weather patterns, to the transport, distribution or storage of pollutants and nutrients through the landscape. ... ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Taking stock of the world’s lakes

Extreme event attribution: the climate versus the weather blame game:  “For more than a decade, scientists have been accumulating evidence that in some places, global warming is making several kinds of extreme weather events more likely or more intense. Heat waves? Check. Heavy downpours? Check. Deeper and more frequent high-tide flooding? Check.  These long-term trends apply to averages across groups of similar events, usually spread over large areas—a national increase in heavy rain events, for example—not necessarily to a specific event in a particular place. How much global warming may have affected an individual extreme event—Sandy, the California drought, thousand-year floods in West Virginia or Louisiana—is a separate and much harder question. Answering it is the goal of a field of climate science called extreme event attribution. ... ”  Read more from Climate.gov here:  Extreme event attribution: the climate versus the weather blame game

Writing about La Niña, the U.S. and the Jet Stream and THIS HAPPENS. *CLICKBAIT HEADLINE:  “As Emily wrote two weeks ago, weak La Niña conditions are present and favored to continue through mid-winter of 2017. Even though the La Niña is weak and not expected to last very long, it is only fair here at the ENSO blog to give it and its impacts to the jet stream and to the United States some further elaboration.  So what about La Niña?  Yeah! What about La Niña? Can’t we show some love to the flip side of El Niño. In a previous post, Tony described, in detail, how El Niño can lead to global impacts through strengthening the Hadley Circulation where air rises near the equator, spreads towards the poles and sinks back to the surface in the subtropics (~30°N/S).  This strengthening then changes the strength and position of the jet stream– the area of fast west-to-east moving winds across the mid-latitudes. … ”  Read more from the ENSO blog here:  Writing about La Niña, the U.S. and the Jet Stream and THIS HAPPENS. *CLICKBAIT HEADLINE

And lastly … A Mesmerizing Sequence of Biological Simulations by Maxime Causeret for Max Cooper’s ‘Order from Chaos’: Starting with a recording of raindrops hitting the skylight in his old apartment, this track titled Order from Chaos from London-based artist Max Cooper‘s newest album Emergence is the culmination of three years work merging his interests in science, music and visual arts. French visual effects artist Maxime Causeret was asked to provide the visuals and the result is a mesmerizing blend of biological simulations and music video. Cellular forms appear to collide, merge, and even compete for resources while brain-like structures explode and crash across the screen. … ”  Read more from Colossal here:  A Mesmerizing Sequence of Biological Simulations by Maxime Causeret for Max Cooper’s ‘Order from Chaos’  Watch video below:

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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