SCIENCE NEWS: Droughts and floods: California’s climate change conundrum; Sharks are dying by the hundreds in San Francisco Bay; Collaborative research project points the way to improving salmon recovery efforts on the Columbia River; and more …

In science news this week: Droughts and floods: California's climate change conundrum; Sharks are dying by the hundreds in San Francisco Bay; IEP posts new edition of their Newsletter; Collaborative research project points the way to improving salmon recovery efforts on the Columbia River; Not just a game: Steelhead, science, and a race for survival; Cool new nesting boxes help save seabird colony; Mergansers: The plunging ducks; Spike in Southwest dust storms driven by ocean changes; What will El Nino look like in the future?  For answers, scientists look to the past; and Urban Water Atlas for Europe: 360 degree view on water management in cities

Droughts and floods: California's climate change conundrum:  “It’s almost an understatement to call California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta “complex.” This highly altered ecosystem supports one of the most complicated water-management systems in the world. California also experiences the most variable precipitation regime in the country, with wide swings between drought and downpours. Wildly varying rates of precipitation, increasing infrastructure construction, and changing water demands all present challenges to effectively managing water and conserving the Delta ecosystem. Now the emergence of climate change among the list of stressors guarantees the Delta of tomorrow will not be the same as the one today. Climate change is expected to make the Delta warmer, and increase the frequency and intensity of both large storm events/flooding and dry days/droughts (Dettinger et al. 2016). This paradoxical combination of effects will bring a new dimension of complexity to Delta management, and a suite of challenges to the already struggling native species that rely on the Delta. … ”  Read more from the Fish Bio blog here:  Droughts and floods: California’s climate change conundrum

Sharks are dying by the hundreds in San Francisco Bay:  “Hundreds of leopard sharks and bat rays have washed up dead or dying on the San Francisco Bay shoreline this spring, the second year in a row of mass elasmobranch death in the Bay and the third major die-off in the last six years. But for the first time since an unusual shark stranding was first reported in the East Bay a half-century ago, scientists say they’re close to an explanation.  “I look at it as a 50-year-old shark murder mystery, and we are hopefully closing in on the killer,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife senior fish pathologist Mark Okihiro, who has led the stranding investigation. … ”  Read more from Bay Nature here:  Sharks are dying by the hundreds in San Francisco Bay

IEP posts new edition of IEP Newsletter: The Interagency Ecological Program for the San Francisco Estuary (IEP) has posted a new edition of the IEP Newsletter.  Covered in this edition: A Comparison of Different Phytoplankton Counting Methods, 2015 Status and Trends for Pelagic Fishes of the Upper San Francisco Estuary, 2016 Spring Kodiak Trawl Summary, 2014-2015 Yolo Bypass Fisheries Monitoring Status and Trends Report, 2016 20-mm Survey, 2016 Smelt Larva Survey Summary, 2015 Benthic Monitoring, and 2014 and 2015 Phytoplankton Community Composition.  Click here to read the newsletter.

The Call of the Wild Fish Template: A collaborative research project points the way to improving salmon recovery efforts on the Columbia River: “Salmon recovery efforts may have just taken a big step forward, thanks to a collaborative project between the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, the Hood River Production Program, and the Bonneville Power Administration. As detailed in a new research paper published by the American Fisheries Society, NWFSC researchers may have found a way to help fish hatcheries increase productivity while reducing their impact on threatened, wild salmon. The key is in how the eggs are reared to the smolting stage. ... ”  Read more from the Northwest Fisheries Center here:  The Call of the Wild Fish Template: A collaborative research project points the way to improving salmon recovery efforts on the Columbia River

Not just a game: Steelhead, science, and a race for survival:  “If you ever wanted to follow a steelhead from the stream it was born in to the open ocean, now you have your chance. There’s a new online game, called “Survive the Sound,” which is like Oregon Trail, except with real fish instead of computerized wagon trains.  And for a game with real fish to play out, scientists have to catch steelhead.  That’s part of the job for fish biologist Clayton Kinsel. It’s late April and juvenile salmon and steelhead are rushing down the Big Beef Creek, a stream that empties out into Puget Sound’s Hood Canal. The smolts, as scientists call them, are trying to make it to the ocean. … ”  Read more from OPB here:  Not just a game: Steelhead, science, and a race for survival

Cool new nesting boxes help save seabird colony:  “By 8 a.m. on an unusually hot morning in May 2008, surface temperatures on Farallon National Wildlife Refuge, a rocky outcropping of small islands 30 miles off the coast of San Francisco, were already breaking records. Cassin’s auklets, one of the species that make the islands a globally critical seabird breeding site, were dying in their nests.  Research biologists and refuge staff had augmented the auklets’ natural nests with man-made wooden ones to promote breeding for a population that had shrunk to a quarter of its 1970s numbers. Now, as temperatures climbed, they scrambled to shield nests from the heat and rescue as many of the dying birds as possible.  The Cassin’s auklet is an unusual bird for a number of reasons. … ”  Read more from the US FWS here:  Cool new nesting boxes help save seabird colony

Mergansers: The plunging ducks: With some 50 species of ducks and geese found throughout California, the Common Merganser (Mergus merganser) might easily get overlooked as one of many ducks in a crowd; however, its unique characteristics are certainly worthy of notice. Although Common Mergansers are a member of the duck family, they have some traits that differentiate them from “typical” duck species. They have straight, narrow bills rather than flat, wide bills associated with many ducks, and also tend to grow larger than most duck species. Mergansers are in the group known as the “diving ducks” because they dive to catch their prey, rather than foraging at the surface like “dabbling ducks.” Fittingly, “merganser” comes from Latin for “plunging goose.” The striking coloration of these birds also sets them apart from other waterfowl.  … ”  Read more from FishBio here:  Mergansers: The plunging ducks

Spike in Southwest dust storms driven by ocean changes:  “People living in the American Southwest have experienced a dramatic increase in windblown dust storms in the last two decades, likely driven by large-scale changes in sea surface temperature in the Pacific Ocean drying the region’s soil, according to new NOAA-led research.  With the increase in dust storms, scientists have also documented a spike in Valley fever, an infectious disease caught by inhaling a soil-dwelling fungus found primarily in the Southwest.  “We’ve known for some time that the Southwest U.S. is becoming drier,” said lead author Daniel Tong, a scientist at NOAA’s Air Resources Laboratory and George Mason University. “Dust storms in the region have more than doubled between the 1990s and the 2000s. And we see that Valley fever is increasing in the same region.” ... ”  Read more from the NOAA here:  Spike in Southwest dust storms driven by ocean changes

What will El Nino look like in the future?  For answers, scientists look to the past:  “Scientists are trying to predict the future behavior of El Niño — the formation of warmer-than-usual ocean waters in the equatorial Pacific — by looking back in time.  This week, the journal Geology published new findings suggesting that 5 million years ago, El Niño occurred with about the same frequency as it does today.  With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Cornell College geologist Rhawn Denniston and colleagues analyzed decades' worth of data on Caribbean ocean temperatures. The researchers obtained the data from well-preserved, 5-million-year-old fossil corals they collected in the mountains of the central Dominican Republic, a region once covered by the sea. … ”  Read more from the National Science Foundation here:  What will El Nino look like in the future?  For answers, scientists look to the past

Urban Water Atlas for Europe: 360 degree view on water management in cities: “On 27 April 2017, the European Commission published the Urban Water Atlas for Europe. The publication — the first of its kind — shows how different water management choices, as well as other factors such as waste management, climate change and even our food preferences, affect the long-term sustainability of water use in our cities.  The new atlas illustrates the role of water in European cities and informs citizens as well as local authorities and experts about good practices and cutting-edge developments that can contribute to ensuring that water is used more efficiently and sustainably, helping to save this valuable resource. Detailed factsheets in the Urban Water Atlas for Europe present the state of water management in more than 40 European cities and regions, together with a number of overseas examples. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Urban Water Atlas for Europe: 360 degree view on water management in cities

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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