SCIENCE NEWS: Fall pulse flows prompt limited response from salmon; New projections of the effects of ocean acidification; Atmospheric scientists take to the skies to test cloud seeding for snow; and more …

A stained glass mural at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, PA; Photo by Peter Miller
In science news this week: Fall pulse flows prompt limited response from salmon; New projections of the effects of ocean acidification; Atmospheric scientists take to the skies to test cloud seeding for snow; Study tracks ‘memory’ of soil moisture: First year of data from SMAP satellite provides new insights for weather, agriculture, and climate; Economics: The next frontier in conservation science; Finding ways to fix the climate before it’s too late; and January 2017 ENSO update: Happy New Year!

Fall pulse flows prompt limited response from salmon:  “It’s no secret that salmon need water, but just how much water brings them the most benefit and when is often a subject of debate. A new study by fisheries researchers at FISHBIO finds that releasing prescribed volumes of water from reservoirs in pulse flows has had a limited effect on stimulating adult salmon migration in the Central Valley’s Stanislaus River. Pulse flows are intended to mimic the natural variability found in undammed rivers, and are often expected to cue fish migration. However, the new study published in the current issue of the North American Journal of Fisheries Management finds that other management actions, such as installing a rock barrier downstream at the Head of Old River, produced a larger positive response in salmon movement than pulse flows. … “ Read more from FishBio here:  Fall pulse flows prompt limited response from salmon

New projections of the effects of ocean acidification:  “The acidification of the ocean expected as seawater absorbs increasing amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere will reverberate through the West Coast’s marine food web, but not necessarily in the ways you might expect, new research shows.  Dungeness crabs, for example, will likely suffer as their food sources decline. Dungeness crab fisheries valued at about $220 million annually may face a strong downturn over the next 50 years, according to the research published today in the journal Global Change Biology. But pteropods and copepods, tiny marine organisms with shells that are vulnerable to acidification, will likely experience only a slight overall decline because they are prolific enough to offset much of the impact, the study found. … ”  Read more from the Northwest Fisheries Science Center here:  New projections of the effects of ocean acidification

Atmospheric scientists take to the skies to test cloud seeding for snow:  “Can cloud seeding — dispersing particles into the air with the aim of increasing precipitation — increase snowfall? This week, a team of researchers began a cloud-seeding project in southwestern Idaho to answer that question.  Cloud seeding is a process by which artificial ice nuclei, such as silver iodide particles, are released into clouds, either from the air or via ground-based generators.  The Idaho project, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and dubbed SNOWIE (Seeded and Natural Orographic Wintertime Clouds — the Idaho Experiment), will run from January 7 to March 17 in and around the Payette Basin, 50 miles north of Boise.  “Scientists are still uncertain about cloud seeding for increasing precipitation, despite ongoing operations around the globe,” says Nick Anderson, program director in NSF’s Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences. “SNOWIE is the most comprehensive study to date on cloud seeding in winter.” ... ”  Read more from the NSF here:  Atmospheric scientists take to the skies to test cloud seeding for snow

Study tracks ‘memory’ of soil moisture: First year of data from SMAP satellite provides new insights for weather, agriculture, and climate: “The top two inches of topsoil on all of Earth’s landmasses contains an infinitesimal fraction of the planet’s water — less than one-thousandth of a percent. Yet because of its position at the interface between the land and the atmosphere, that tiny amount plays a crucial role in everything from agriculture to weather and climate, and even the spread of disease.  The behavior and dynamics of this reservoir of moisture have been very hard to quantify and analyze, however, because measurements have been slow and laborious to make. That situation changed with the launch in 2015 of a NASA satellite called SMAP (Soil Moisture Active Passive), designed to provide globally comprehensive and frequent measurements of the moisture in that top layer of soil. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Study tracks ‘memory’ of soil moisture: First year of data from SMAP satellite provides new insights for weather, agriculture, and climate

Economics: The next frontier in conservation science:  “Engaging in markets is not new for The Nature Conservancy. But with our roots as a land trust, we thought about markets in a very specific way. We bought property to protect biodiversity using donor and public funding. We were in the market for “externalities.”  Externalities are by-products of economic activity that impact other parties without being reflected in the cost of the goods or services involved. In the case of traditional property purchases and sales, the ecological, scientific, recreational and other benefits of biodiversity are rarely fully priced into the market value of the properties even when public and private funders may have a very high willingness to pay for them. For example, a property that provides valuable habitat for endangered coho salmon is not usually offered at a premium. … ” Read more from the Cool Green Science Blog here:  Economics: The next frontier in conservation science

Finding ways to fix the climate before it’s too late:  “Scientists and policymakers rely on complex computer simulations called Integrated Assessment Models to figure out how to address climate change. But these models need tinkering to make them more accurate.  We know that greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels and other economic activities are warming Earth and changing the climate.  The North Pole provides just the latest disturbing evidence of this fact. Right before New Year’s, the International Arctic Buoy Programme recorded temperatures there that were right around freezing, or more than 30 degrees C. warmer than usual. ... ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Finding ways to fix the climate before it’s too late

January 2017 ENSO update: Happy New Year!  “It looks like La Niña is on her way out, and neutral conditions are expected to take over by next month. While she’s still hanging around, let’s take a tour around the world in 80 lines (or so).  Starting right in the middle of things … The engine of ENSO (El Niño/Southern Oscillation, the whole El Niño & La Niña cycle) is the temperature of the ocean surface in the equatorial central and eastern Pacific. Since late summer 2016, the Niño3.4 region has been cooler than the long-term average. December was -0.72°C below average, a slight uptick relative to the month before. … ” Read more from the ENSO blog here:  January 2017 ENSO update: Happy New Year!

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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