SCIENCE NEWS: UCLA-led researchers track groundwater loss during drought in Central Valley; Lake Tahoe takeover; Bay Area scientists push back against federal freeze on meetings; and more …

Phytoplankton bloom in the Gulf of Alaska

In science news this week: UCLA-led researchers track groundwater loss during drought in Central Valley; Lake Tahoe takeover; Bay Area scientists push back against federal freeze on meetings; Endangered Southern California fish saved after population threatened by fire; How satellite data led to a breakthrough for Lake Erie toxic algal blooms; Dams a major driver of climate change; When birds of a feather poop together; and May 2017 ENSO Update: Mayday

UCLA-led researchers track groundwater loss during drought in Central Valley:  “A new study by researchers from UCLA and the University of Houston reveals significant groundwater loss in California’s Central Valley during the recent drought and sparks questions of sustainability for the important agricultural area.  Researchers tracked net groundwater consumption in the Central Valley from 2002 to 2016, which included two droughts, one from 2007 to 2009 and the more severe drought from 2012 to 2016. California’s Central Valley is more than 18,000 square miles from the coast to the Sierra Nevada Mountains and is one of the largest agricultural hubs in the United States, providing more than half of the U.S. fruit, vegetable and nut crops. ... ”  Read more from UCLA here:  UCLA-led researchers track groundwater loss during drought in Central Valley

Lake Tahoe takeover:  “While Lake Tahoe is famous for its clear blue waters, the ecosystem of the lake is far from untouched or pristine. Stocking and unintended introductions of non-native species over the last 100 years have completely transformed the aquatic community and food web in the lake. Non-native fish stocking dates as far back as the late 1880s, when rainbow, brook, brown, and lake trout (also known as mackinaw) were all stocked in the lake for recreational fishing. Lake Tahoe was once home to the leviathan Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, which can grow over four feet in length and up to 40 pounds, and acted as the top predator in the lake. However, heavy commercial harvesting during the Comstock mining boom, watershed degradation from logging and grazing, and the introduction of voracious lake trout and brown trout all led to Lahontan Cutthroat being completely wiped out of Lake Tahoe in the 1930s. ... ” Read more from FishBio here:  Lake Tahoe takeover

Bay Area scientists push back against federal freeze on meetings:  “A biannual meeting of California scientists and natural resource managers slated for late May has been officially cancelled after a Department of Interior memo was issued last week prohibiting all of the agency-led committees from meeting this summer.  But state, non-governmental, and tribal partners of the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative—a network created by the Department in 2010 to address resource issues affected by climate change —intend to meet anyway, says Ellie Cohen, executive director of Point Blue Conservation Science and the former chair of the CA LCC steering committee. Staff from seven federal agencies, including the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA, and U.S. Forest Service, will presumably not be in attendance based on the Department’s recent directive. ... ”  Read more from Bay Nature here:  Bay Area scientists push back against federal freeze on meetings

Endangered Southern California fish saved after population threatened by fire:  “One hundred and fifty-one unarmored threespine sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus williamsoni) were rescued and then released on the Angeles National Forest this past month.  Nearly a decade ago the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Forest Service, and conservation partners came together with the ultimate goal of species recovery, through implementation of the species recovery plan. The plan identifies a goal of reaching sustainable populations, through the creation of additional unarmored threespine stickleback populations, or the reintroduction into new sites. … ”  Read more from the US Fish and Wildlife here:  Endangered Southern California fish saved after population threatened by fire

How satellite data led to a breakthrough for Lake Erie toxic algal blooms:  “With the growing frequency and magnitude of toxic freshwater algal blooms becoming an increasingly worrisome public health concern, Carnegie scientists Jeff Ho and Anna Michalak, along with colleagues, have made new advances in understanding the drivers behind Lake Erie blooms and their implications for lake restoration. The work is published in two related studies.  Using data from NASA's Landsat 5 instrument, the researchers generated new estimates of historical algal blooms in Lake Erie, more than doubling the number of years previously available for scientists to investigate, from 14 to 32. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  How satellite data led to a breakthrough for Lake Erie toxic algal blooms

Dams a major driver of climate change:  “Water reservoirs created by damming rivers could have significant impacts on the world's carbon cycle and climate system that aren't being accounted for, a new study concludes.  The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Waterloo and the Université libre de Bruxelles, appears in Nature Communications. It found that human-made dam reservoirs trap nearly one-fifth of the organic carbon moving from land to ocean via the world's rivers.  While they can act as a significant source or sink for carbon dioxide, reservoirs are poorly represented in current climate change models. ... ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Dams a major driver of climate change

When birds of a feather poop together:  “Studying the effects of great cormorant droppings on water reservoirs is a dirty job, but someone's got to do it.  At the Maji Agricultural Reservoir in Wonju, Gangwond-do, South Korea, that someone is Tae Kwon Lee. Lee regularly jogs around the reservoir. One day he noticed large black birds completely covering the small island in the lake. The black birds were great cormorants, a type of large water bird, and the trees on the islet were completely covered in the birds' feces. As time passed, Lee made another observation: the lake suffered a severe algal bloom. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  When birds of a feather poop together

May 2017 ENSO Update: Mayday:  “We’re finally starting to get through the spring barrier, when climate models have a harder time making successful forecasts. Forecasters estimate the chance of El Niño forming is about equal to the chance that neutral conditions will continue: both are just shy of 50% through the fall. Unlike two years ago, when the signal that a strong El Niño was developing was clear, most of our prediction tools are suggesting very borderline conditions, making it a tough forecast. … ”  Continue reading at the ENSO blog here:  May 2017 ENSO Update: Mayday

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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