SCIENCE NEWS: Heat is driving off clouds that dampen California wildfires; A little water could make a big difference for salmon; A creek flows free; Some like it dark: Light pollution and salmon survival; and more …

The Bahamas as seen from the International Space Station

In science news this week: Heat is driving off clouds that dampen California wildfires; A little water could make a big difference for salmon; A creek flows free; Some like it dark: Light pollution and salmon survival; Coyote Creek steelhead trout disappearance prompts battle; Sheephead, sea urchins and kelp: A dynamic food chain; Groundwater pumping can increase arsenic levels in irrigation and drinking water; and more …

Heat is driving off clouds that dampen California wildfires:  “Sunny California may be getting too sunny. Increasing summer temperatures brought on by a combination of intensifying urbanization and warming climate are driving off once common low-lying morning clouds in many southern coastal areas of the state, leading to increased risk of wildfires, says a new study.  “Cloud cover is plummeting in southern coastal California,” said Park Williams, a bioclimatologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and lead author of the research. … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here:  Heat is driving off clouds that dampen California wildfires

A little water could make a big difference for salmon:  “Even small amounts of running water–less than a gallon per second–could mean the difference between life or death for juvenile coho salmon in coastal California streams, according to a new study published in the journal Transactions of the American Fisheries Society.  The study, led by California Sea Grant Extension Specialist Mariska Obedzinski, shows that during dry periods, that amount of water was enough to keep pools interconnected, allowing young salmon to survive through the hot, dry summer months. … ”  Read more from EurekAlert here:  A little water could make a big difference for salmon

A creek flows free:  “Imagine you are a young steelhead trout following your instinct to swim 100 miles to the ocean, only to have the journey cut short by a collapsed bridge in the creek. Where’s a fish to go?  This scenario played out when a portion of Taylor Creek in remote Siskiyou County became impassable by a crossing that had fallen into the stream.  In the summer of 2012, a survey crew from the Salmon River Restoration Council discovered the blockage and informed the landowners. Dick Bruce, a member of one of two families who own the property, said there was no question about what needed to be done.  “We had to do something for the fish, help them get downstream,” he said. “But I knew this was going to be more involved than a simple fix to the old bridge, and there was no way we could do it alone.”  … ”  Read more from the US FWS here:  A creek flows free

Some like it dark: Light pollution and salmon survival:  “Using lights to attract fish at night has been a well-known fishing method since before the light bulb was even invented. Ancient cultures used fire to attract fish to their boats and catch them more easily. Fishers today use advanced underwater lights that, we now know, attract plankton and, in turn, small fish and larger sport fish. Even some predatory deep-sea fishes create their own light, called bioluminescence, to lure in prey. Fishers and aquarium owners know that different lights have different effects on fish behavior, with some spectrums impacting fish more than others. Scientists have now begun to study how different types of artificial lights might be affecting threatened and endangered fish species in the wild. … ”  Read more from the FishBio blog here:  Some like it dark: Light pollution and salmon survival

Coyote Creek steelhead trout disappearance prompts battle:  ” … A less vocal and sometimes unrepresented stakeholder in this struggle: the environment and local wildlife under threat. The endangered steelhead trout, however, is not going unrepresented; a coalition of environmental activists, including the Sierra Club and the Santa Clara County Creeks Coalition have filed a Water Rights Complaint with the California State Water Resources Control Board to use their water licensing powers to require action by the Santa Clara Valley Water District to protect these fish. The changes, if they were implemented, would represent a change in water management on the part of the Santa Clara Valley Water District—one that environmentalists say is necessary to avoid the extinction of the steelhead in local rivers. … ”  Read more from Environmental Monitor here:  Coyote Creek steelhead trout disappearance prompts battle

Sheephead, sea urchins and kelp: A dynamic food chain:  “In ocean food webs, many organisms directly and indirectly rely on each other to bring balance to the surrounding environment. Food webs in ecosystems like kelp forests can sometimes experience trophic cascades, in which three or more levels of the food chain are connected by predators, and changes in one level can cascade down to affect other levels. When carnivorous predators tend to selectively eat herbivores, this allows plants (which would otherwise be grazed by herbivores) to grow abundantly (Strauss 1991, Menge 1995). However, overfishing of top-predators can create an imbalance in the food web, and their prey species can dramatically increase in number, with potentially serious consequences to the ecosystem … ”  Read more from FishBio here:  Sheephead, sea urchins and kelp: A dynamic food chain

Groundwater pumping can increase arsenic levels in irrigation and drinking water:  “For decades, intensive groundwater pumping has caused ground beneath California’s San Joaquin Valley to sink, damaging infrastructure. Now research published in the journal Nature Communications suggests that as pumping makes the ground sink, it also unleashes an invisible threat to human health and food production: It allows arsenic to move into groundwater aquifers that supply drinking water for 1 million people and irrigation for crops in some of the nation’s richest farmland.  The group found that satellite-derived measurements of ground sinking could predict arsenic concentrations in groundwater. This technique could be an early warning system to prevent dangerous levels of arsenic contamination in aquifers with certain characteristics worldwide. … ”  Read mroe from EurekAlert here:  Groundwater pumping can increase arsenic levels in irrigation and drinking water

Better together: How Ecosystem Services and Adaptive Decision-Making Can Improve Land Management: “An ecosystem services approach combined with adaptive decision-making can aid land and resource managers in administering their regions for the benefit of communities and stakeholders, according to a recent report by the U.S. Geological Survey and Resources for the Future.  Ecosystem services are the benefits to people from things produced by the natural living environment, such as pollination of crops, filtering of groundwater by wetland vegetation, and buffering of storm surge by mangrove swamps. Adaptive decision-making, meanwhile, allows managers to learn by doing, adjusting their operations based on results from management decisions, and ongoing research and monitoring over time.  “Resource management decisions are having greater impacts on our lives, and we need the best methods to assess and understand the consequences of decisions,” said Carl Shapiro, director of the USGS Science and Decisions Center. “Our work showing how adaptive decision-making and ecosystem services complement each other will help resource managers make the best decisions affecting the Nation’s natural resources.” … ”  Read more from the USGS here:  Better together: How Ecosystem Services and Adaptive Decision-Making Can Improve Land Management

As Microplastics Invade Every Ecosystem, More Research and Action Needed: “In recent months, what is a truly monumental overuse of plastic has become more and more apparent in numerous ways. In 2017, we learned that microplastics had been found on every single beach scientists tested for them. Just a few months ago, researchers revealed that the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” which is three times the size of France, contains up to 16 times more plastic than we previously thought.  Now, recent writing from Chelsea M. Rochman of the University of Toronto’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology indicates that we may just be scratching the surface of our microplastic problem here on Earth. Rochman corresponded with EM about her work. … ”  Read more from the Environmental Monitor here: As Microplastics Invade Every Ecosystem, More Research and Action Needed

Two decades of earth data:  “Powerful Earth-observing instruments aboard NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites, launched in 1999 and 2002, respectively, have observed nearly two decades of planetary change. Now, for the first time, all that imagery—from the first operational image to imagery acquired today—is available for exploration in Worldview.  Both satellites carry Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments that have been taking images of Earth – showing more than 18 years of change on our home planet.  Both natural and human activities have left their mark on Earth, visible from space, and you can tour through those changes, zooming in on hurricanes, fires, volcanoes and major building projects. ... ”  Read more and view visualizations from NASA here:  Two decades of earth data

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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