SCIENCE NEWS: A new approach to restock California’s groundwater via almond orchards, vineyards; What makes fish a successful invasive?; The good, the bad,and the algae; What’s killing trees during drought?; and more …

In science news this week: EESA develops new approach to restock California’s groundwater via almond orchards, vineyards; What makes fish a successful invasive?; The good, the bad,and the algae; New dust sources from a shrinking Salton Sea have negative ecological, health impacts; What’s killing trees during drought? Scientists have new answers; Incomplete drought recovery may be the new normal; The nitrogen problem: Why global warming is making it worse; Dramatic change needed in farming practices to keep pace with climate change

EESA develops new approach to restock California’s groundwater via almond orchards, vineyards:  “Groundwater—the water stored underneath the Earth’s surface between the cracks and spaces in soil, sand, and bedrock—is essential for the California residents and farmers who rely on it for up to 46 percent of their annual water use. Yet during the 2012-2017 drought, the state’s surface water supply was not sufficient to meet demand, resulting in excess groundwater pumping that caused land subsidence of up to 13 inches in some parts of the San Joaquin Valley.  Now a team of scientists at Berkeley Lab’s Earth & Environmental Sciences Area (EESA) is working with farmers and partners like the Almond Board of California and UC Davis to test on-farm banking, a new approach that has the potential to manage groundwater more sustainably. It’s an improvement on the age-old method of groundwater recharge, the process of replenishing aquifers by infiltrating water from the surface into shallow aquifers. … ”  Read more from EESA here:  EESA develops new approach to restock California’s groundwater via almond orchards, vineyards

What makes fish a successful invasive?  “The state of California has seen the largest number of non-native fish introductions in the entire country (161 fresh- and saltwater species; Nico and Fuller 1999), and an estimated 49 nonnative species have successfully established populations in the state’s freshwater systems (Moyle 2002).  However, another 38 estimated freshwater species have been introduced to California, but have failed to establish populations (Marchetti et al. 2004).  What makes a certain species able to invade California waters, while another species fails to permanently establish?  The answer can depend on the species and environment, but a few clear traits have emerged that distinguish successful nonnative species in California, including high parental care of young, long-lived individuals, a wide range of physiological tolerance, and predatory behavior. … ”  Read more from the FishBio blog here:  What makes fish a successful invasive?

The good, the bad,and the algae:  “Sandia National Laboratories is testing whether one of California’s largest and most polluted lakes can transform into one of its most productive and profitable. Southern California’s 350-square-mile Salton Sea has well-documented problems related to elevated levels of nitrogen and phosphorus from agricultural runoff. Algae thrives on these elements — a fact that causes environmental problems but could also be a solution to those problems.  Sandia intends to harness algae’s penchant for prolific growth to clean up these pollutants and stop harmful algae blooms while creating a renewable, domestic source of fuel. Algae can be easily converted to fuels and chemicals using a Sandia Labs-patented fermentation process. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  The good, the bad,and the algae

New dust sources from a shrinking Salton Sea have negative ecological, health impacts:  “Scientists at the University of California, Riverside investigating the composition of particulate matter (PM) and its sources at the Salton Sea have found that this shrinking lake in Southern California is exposing large areas of dry lakebed, called playa, that are acting as new dust sources with the potential to impact human health.  “Playas have a high potential to act as dust sources because playa surfaces often lack vegetation,” said Roya Bahreini, an associate professor of environmental sciences, who led the research project. “Dust emissions from playas increase airborne PM mass, which has been linked to cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and mortality.”  Study results appeared recently in Environmental Science and Technology. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  New dust sources from a shrinking Salton Sea have negative ecological, health impacts

What’s killing trees during drought? Scientists have new answers:  “As the number of droughts increases globally, scientists are working to develop predictions of how future parched conditions will affect plants, especially trees.  New results published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution by 62 scientists, led by Henry Adams at Oklahoma State University, synthesized research from drought manipulation studies and revealed the mechanisms by which tree deaths happen.  “Understanding drought is critical to managing our nation’s forests,” said Lina Patino, a section head in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Division of Earth Sciences, which co-funded the study through its Critical Zone Observatories program. “This research will help us more accurately predict how trees will respond to environmental stresses, whether drought, insect damage or disease.” … ”  Read more from Laboratory Equipment here:  What’s killing trees during drought? Scientists have new answers

Incomplete drought recovery may be the new normal:  “The amount of time it takes for an ecosystem to recover from a drought is an important measure of a drought’s severity. During the 20th century, the total area of land affected by drought increased, and longer recovery times became more common, according to new research published by Nature by a group of scientists including Carnegie’s Anna Michalak and Yuanyuan Fang.  Scientists predict that more-severe droughts will occur with greater frequency in the 21st century, so understanding how ecosystems return to normal again will be crucial to preparing for the future. However, the factors that influence drought recovery have been largely unknown until now. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Incomplete drought recovery may be the new normal

The nitrogen problem: Why global warming is making it worse:  “It is a painful lesson of our time that the things we depend on to make our lives more comfortable can also kill us. Our addiction to fossils fuels is the obvious example, as we come to terms with the slow motion catastrophe of climate change. But we are addicted to nitrogen, too, in the fertilizers that feed us, and it now appears that the combination of climate change and nitrogen pollution is multiplying the possibilities for wrecking the world around us.  A new study in Science projects that climate change will increase the amount of nitrogen ending up in U.S. rivers and other waterways by 19 percent on average over the remainder of the century — and much more in hard-hit areas, notably the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River Basin (up 24 percent) and the Northeast (up 28 percent). That’s not counting likely increases in nitrogen inputs from more intensive agriculture, or from increased human population. ... ”  Read more from Yale 360 here:  The nitrogen problem: Why global warming is making it worse

Dramatic change needed in farming practices to keep pace with climate change:  “Major changes in agricultural practices will be required to offset increases in nutrient losses due to climate change, according to research published by a Lancaster University-led team.  To combat repeated, damaging storm events, which strip agricultural land of soil and nutrients, farmers are already adopting measures to conserve these assets where they are needed.  But in a new paper in the journal Nature Communications, researchers investigating nutrients in runoff from agricultural land warn that phosphorus losses will increase, due to climate change, unless this is mitigated by making major changes to agricultural practices. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Dramatic change needed in farming practices to keep pace with climate change

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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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One comment

  • EESA develops new approach to restock California’s groundwater via almond orchards, vineyards: Call me dense, but I found no description of a new approach in the article. All I found was an announcement of EESA research. Did I miss something?

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