SCIENCE NEWS: Unprecedented weather in 2017 hurts clarity level in Lake Tahoe; South Napa earthquake linked to summer groundwater dip; What’s still threatening coastal California condors?; Toxic chemicals in plastic pollution littering freshwater habitats; and more …

Carpets of cyanobacteria in the Baltic Sea

Unprecedented weather in 2017 hurts clarity level in Lake Tahoe:  “Historic drought followed by record-breaking precipitation and warm lake temperatures converged to produce the lowest annual average clarity levels recorded at Lake Tahoe in 2017, indicates data released by the Tahoe Environmental Research Center at the University of California, Davis.  The average annual clarity level for 2017 was 59.7 feet. This was a 9.5-foot decrease from the previous year, surpassing the previous lowest value of 64.1 feet in 1997. Mid-lake clarity levels can swing widely from season to season and year to year, and the five-year average lake clarity is approximately 70 feet. … ”  Read more from UC Davis here:  Unprecedented weather in 2017 hurts clarity level in Lake Tahoe

South Napa earthquake linked to summer groundwater dip:  “A summertime expansion in the Earth’s crust caused by changes in groundwater may have triggered the magnitude-6.0 earthquake in California’s wine country in 2014, according to a new study.  The August 24, 2014 South Napa quake was the largest to shake the San Francisco Bay Area since the magnitude-6.9 Loma Prieta quake in 1989. It was also the first earthquake in the region since 1906 to break through to the surface, leaving buckled asphalt and cracked soil in vineyards along the length of the . ... ”  Read more from PhysOrg here:  South Napa earthquake linked to summer groundwater dip

What’s still threatening coastal California condors?  “A portrait of a California condor, one of the world’s largest flying birds, hangs opposite the desk of Nathan Dodder. The image is a constant reminder of the threatened bird that the San Diego State University analytical chemist is working to help save.  Along with SDSU environmental scientist Eunha Hoh and colleagues at the San Diego Zoo, Dodder recently received funding to study environmental toxins found along the coast that could impact the ‘s reproductive success.  The California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) is one of the most famous success stories in species conservation. … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here:  What’s still threatening coastal California condors?

Toxic chemicals in plastic pollution littering freshwater habitats:  “When we consider the glut of plastic rapidly accumulating all over the world, it’s easy to see the problem of pollution and disposal of substances that don’t biodegrade. However, it’s not always as apparent to us that plastic pollution also means a growing number of toxic chemicals in the environment, many of which can be harmful to ecosystems.  Plastic polymers and the products made from them are wildly diverse as to chemical properties, composition, and range of potential applications, although most plastics are made from petrochemicals. Throughout the very long lifespan of any given plastic product, the material may release various hazardous substances. … ”  Read more from the Environmental Monitor here:  Toxic chemicals in plastic pollution littering freshwater habitats

New system recovers fresh water from power plants:  “A new system devised by MIT engineers could provide a low-cost source of drinking water for parched cities around the world while also cutting power plant operating costs.  About 39 percent of all the fresh water withdrawn from rivers, lakes, and reservoirs in the U.S. is earmarked for the cooling needs of electric power plants that use fossil fuels or nuclear power, and much of that water ends up floating away in clouds of vapor. But the new MIT system could potentially save a substantial fraction of that lost water — and could even become a significant source of clean, safe drinking water for coastal cities where seawater is used to cool local power plants. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  New system recovers fresh water from power plants

In desert trials, next generation water harvester delivers fresh water from air:  “Last October, a University of California, Berkeley, team headed down to the Arizona desert, plopped their newest prototype water harvester into the backyard of a tract home and started sucking water out of the air without any power other than sunlight.  The successful field test of their larger, next-generation harvester proved what the team had predicted earlier in 2017: that the water harvester can extract drinkable water every day/night cycle at very low humidity and at low cost, making it ideal for people living in arid, water-starved areas of the world. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  In desert trials, next generation water harvester delivers fresh water from air

The science behind the space images of waterways seen on Google Earth:  “Google recently unveiled a new feature, “Waterways from Earth,” on Google Earth. The program relies on NASA and NOAA images to show our planet’s waterways from space. Here’s more about the science and stories behind those images.”  Read more and view pictures from NASA here:  The science behind the space images of waterways seen on Google Earth

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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