SCIENCE NEWS: Unusual CA precipitation over last two winters could have been predicted; Climate change-driven droughts are getting hotter, study finds; Following disturbance, most waterways improve but don’t fully recover within the study period, researchers found; and more …

A Composite Manifestation of Oxygen; Photo courtesy of Pacific Northwest National Labs

When noise becomes signal: Unusual California precipitation over last two winters could have been predicted:Last spring, Governor Jerry Brown declared an end to California’s historic drought that caused over $5 billion in damage to agriculture as well as substantial impacts to fisheries, infrastructure, human health, and vegetation. The drought was not only severe, but it also spanned the winters of 2015-16 and 2016-17, which had unusual and unexpected precipitation that affected the drought’s evolution.  Despite surrounding ocean conditions that often support reliable seasonal forecasts through long-distance relationships with the atmosphere, predictions made a season ahead of California precipitation during these winters performed poorly. However, a new study by scientists from Columbia University, funded by the NOAA MAPP Program, shows that forecasts issued a month ahead – within the subseasonal timescale and much further ahead than a normal weather forecast – could have accurately predicted the abnormal winter rain. ... ”  Read more from NOAA here:  When noise becomes signal: Unusual California precipitation over last two winters could have been predicted

Climate change-driven droughts are getting hotter, study finds:  “Dry months are getting hotter in large parts of the United States, another sign that human-caused climate change is forcing people to encounter new extremes.  In a study published today in Science Advances, researchers at the University of California, Irvine report that temperatures during droughts have been rising faster than in average climates in recent decades, and they point to concurrent changes in atmospheric water vapor as a driver of the surge. ... ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Climate change-driven droughts are getting hotter, study finds

Following disturbance, most waterways improve but don’t fully recover within the study period, researchers found: “Conservation biologists are challenged to predict the pace and extent of river recovery following disturbances such as oil spills, wastewater contamination, and fires. A new global meta-analysis by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, reveals patterns of responsiveness in these highly valued ecosystems.  Based on studies of 50 incidents worldwide that affected river or stream water quality, the analysis found that streams improved but did not fully recover within the study period. Researchers also concluded that recovery in streams in more natural settings was less complete than for waterways in urban or agricultural areas. ... ”  Read more from PhysOrg here:  Following disturbance, most waterways improve but don’t fully recover within the study period, researchers found

USGS Interdisciplinary Science Contributes to Native Fish Ecology Efforts in the Delta: “With the development of the Central Valley (CVP) and State Water (SWP) projects, the natural flow of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has been reengineered to provide water for California’s growing population and agricultural needs. These changes have drastically reduced natural wetlands, affecting the habitat of native fish species, including the threatened Delta Smelt. To address the situation, joint operations of the CVP and SWP must balance human water demands on the Delta with protection of its fragile ecosystem and species of concern, especially those listed as threatened or endangered under state and federal laws.  To assist with this effort, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation a has engaged the USGS to help better understand and promote habitats that are conducive to reestablishing the Delta Smelt and other native fish. The science employed will also be used to inform water management decisions that balance water delivery obligations with protecting species of concern. … ”  Continue reading from the USGS here:  USGS Interdisciplinary Science Contributes to Native Fish Ecology Efforts in the Delta

Detections of current-use pesticides at 12 surface water sites in California during a 2-year period beginning in 2015:  Abstract: “Surface water samples were collected by the U.S. Geological Survey and multiple cooperators during base flow/irrigation runoff and storm runoff conditions from 12 sites throughout California, over 2 consecutive years beginning in April 2015, from both urban and agriculturally dominated watersheds. Water samples were analyzed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry and liquid chromatrography/tandem mass spectrometry for a suite of 157 pesticides and degradates. Suspended sediments associated with these water samples were analyzed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry for a suite of 131 pesticides and degradates. Overall, 85 pesticides and degradates were detected in the water: 32 fungicides, 25 herbicides, 27 insecticides, and 1 synergist. In the suspended sediment, 29 pesticides were detected: 9 fungicides, 10 herbicides, and 10 insecticides. Sixteen pesticides (bifenthrin, carbendazim, chlorpyrifos, clothianidin, diazinon, diuron, fenpyroximate, fipronil, fipronil sulfone, fluopicolide, imidacloprid, metolachlor, novaluron, oxyflurofen, permethrin, and simazine) were detected in the water at concentrations that were above at least one aquatic life benchmark value as defined by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency.”  Read the report from the USGS here:  Detections of current-use pesticides at 12 surface water sites in California during a 2-year period beginning in 2015

Can pollution alter wildlife behavior?  “A team of scientists from the University of Portsmouth have developed new scientific tests to better understand the effects of pollution on wildlife behaviour.  The field of behavioural toxicology is gaining traction within the environmental sciences with an increasing number of studies demonstrating that chemical exposure can alter animal behaviour.  An organism’s behaviour is fundamentally important to their survival through feeding, finding mates and escaping predators. Any chemical which could interfere with these responses has the potential to impact the food chain. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Can pollution alter wildlife behavior?

The blueprint for El Nino diversity:  “A new research study, published this week by an international team of climate scientists in the journal Nature, isolates key mechanisms that cause El Niño events to differ amongst each other. The team found that the complexity and irregular occurrence of El Niño and La Niña events can be traced back to the co-existence of two coupled atmosphere-ocean oscillations, with different spatial characteristics and different frequencies.  “Our study reveals that there is a hidden structure in the seemingly chaotic and unpredictable occurrence of El Niño events,” said Axel Timmermann, Director of the IBS Center for Climate Physics (ICCP) at Pusan National University and lead author of the study. … ”  Read more from the Science Daily here:  The blueprint for El Nino diversity

Ocean acidification is having major impact on marine life:  “Carbon dioxide emissions are killing off coral reefs and kelp forests as heat waves and ocean acidification damage marine ecosystems, scientists have warned.  Writing in Scientific Reports, researchers say that three centuries of industrial development have already had a marked effect on our seas.  But if CO2 levels continue to rise as predicted, the coming decades and lowering seawater pH levels will have an even greater and potentially catastrophic impact.  Their predictions follow a comprehensive study of the effects of recently discovered volcanic CO2 seeps off Shikine Island, Japan, which is on the border of temperate and tropical climates. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Ocean acidification is having major impact on marine life

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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