SCIENCE NEWS: Rice farmers, duck hunters work to create world class habitat in Sacto Valley; Surveying for survivors; Upcycling Christmas trees; How climate change is affecting small Sierra Nevada lakes; and more …

Nickel cobalt oxide catalyst, photo by PNNL

In science news this week:

Maximizing every drop: Rice farmers, duck hunters work with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ducks Unlimited for ‘world class habitat’: “The rice fields are his home away from home.  Don Bransford, a third-generation rice farmer in Colusa, California, has been growing the grain since 1980.  His 1,200-acre farm is in the Sacramento Valley, which on the whole supplies the country with nearly all of its sushi rice. Each spring, the farmer levels his fields, adds five inches of water, and, by plane, plants soaked rice seed from the air. He maintains the water level until the grain is ready to harvest in the fall. … ”  Continue reading at the US FWS here:  Maximizing every drop: Rice farmers, duck hunters work with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ducks Unlimited for ‘world class habitat’

Surveying for survivors:  “Santa Rosa, California is well known for vineyards, arts, and culture. But, the locals know that one of the many benefits the city has to offer is outdoor recreation. Trione-Annadel State Park is among the area’s most popular parks, with 5,500 acres of rolling hills, streams, meadows, and woodlands. The Ledson Marsh area of the park started out as a reservoir to water eucalyptus trees, but it is now home to cattails, tules, native grasses, and a variety of critters, including salamanders, snakes, lizards, rabbits, turtles, scorpions, and frogs. The marsh’s most prized species is the threatened California red-legged frog. … ”  Continue reading at the USFWS here:  Surveying for survivors

“Upcycling” Christmas Trees to Create Fish Habitat: “Christmas can be the gift that keeps giving — to anglers and fish alike.  In the north state, CDFW fish habitat technicians oversee the collection of discarded Christmas trees, which will be used to build underwater habitat structures for local waterways. Long after they’ve brightened holiday homes, these trees will provide shelter for juvenile warmwater fish species — and ultimately will create better fishing opportunities for anglers.  According to Joseph Rightmier, a fish habitat supervisor with CDFW’s Fish Habitat Improvement Shop in Yreka, the trees are weighed down with cables and submerged, creating a refuge for juvenile fish, including Largemouth Bass and crappie. … ”  Read more from the Department of Fish and Wildlife here:  “Upcycling” Christmas Trees to Create Fish Habitat

How climate change is affecting small Sierra Nevada lakes:  “Scientists at the University of California, Davis, are taking the temperature — and other measurements — of lakes of all sizes and shapes throughout the mountains of California to see how climate change is affecting them and what, perhaps, can be done about it.  A study published this month in the journal Limnology and Oceanography Letters shows that, despite rapidly warming air temperatures, spring snowpack is the biggest predictor of summer warming in small Sierra Nevada lakes. … ”  Read more from UC Davis here:  How climate change is affecting small Sierra Nevada lakes

‘All is not lost’: Rare California red-legged frogs fight for survival following SoCal wildfire: “Amid an ashy creek bed in the Simi Hills, rare frogs are fighting for survival following the Woolsey Fire, which swept across Ventura and Los Angeles Counties this November, prompting mass evacuations. While thousands of residents fled their homes, California red-legged frogs, a threatened species, hunkered down in creek bottoms, and waited.  Fueled by persistent Santa Ana winds, the Woolsey Fire burned nearly 100,000 acres, destroying more than 1,500 homes, businesses, and other structures from inland Thousand Oaks to the seaside town of Malibu. Nearly half of the Santa Monica Mountains burned, including sites where California red-legged frogs were reintroduced in recent years to help boost the dwindling population. … ”  Read more from the US FWS here:  ‘All is not lost’: Rare California red-legged frogs fight for survival following SoCal wildfire

Salmon may lose the ability to smell danger as carbon emissions rise:  “The ability to smell is critical for salmon. They depend on scent to avoid predators, sniff out prey and find their way home at the end of their lives when they return to the streams where they hatched to spawn and die.  New research from NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center and the University of Washington (UW) shows this powerful sense of smell might be in trouble as carbon emissions continue to be absorbed by our ocean. Ocean acidification is changing the water’s chemistry and lowering its pH. Specifically, higher levels of carbon dioxide, or CO2, in the water can affect the ways in which coho salmon process and respond to smells. … ”  Read more from the Northwest Fisheries Science Center here:  Salmon may lose the ability to smell danger as carbon emissions rise

Warming winters and dwindling Sierra Nevada snowpack will squeeze water resources in parts of California: “Snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada Mountains provides roughly 75 percent of California’s agricultural water, and 60 percent of Southern California’s water resources. Warm winters can cause snow droughts in the Sierra Nevada, both by nudging precipitation in the direction of rainfall rather than snowfall, and by melting snow sooner. A new study by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, uses historical records and modeling to understand how the Sierra Nevada snowpack may respond to rising temperatures. … ”  Read more from Climate.gov here:  Warming winters and dwindling Sierra Nevada snowpack will squeeze water resources in parts of California

Colorado River Delta report provides restoration road map: “Four growing seasons after the engineered spring flood of the Colorado River Delta in March 2014, the delta’s birds, plants and groundwater continue to benefit, according to a report prepared for the International Boundary and Water Commission by a binational University of Arizona-led team.  The report “Minute 319 Colorado River Limitrophe and Delta Environmental Flows Monitoring Final Report” was released today by the U.S. Commissioner of the International Boundary and Water Commission Jayne Harkins at the Colorado River Water Users’ Association Annual Conference in Las Vegas. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Colorado River Delta report provides restoration road map

Oroville Dam earthquakes in February 2017 related to spillway discharge: “A closer look at small earthquakes that took place at the Oroville Dam in California’s Sierra Nevada foothills in February 2017 — near the time when the dam’s spillway failed — suggest that the seismic activity was related to reservoir discharge that opened and closed fractures in the rock below the spillway.  It seems likely that fluid leaking through cracks in the main spillway altered the pressure on the underlying rock fractures, causing them to slowly open and then slam shut, over and over, according to the report in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. ... ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Oroville Dam earthquakes in February 2017 related to spillway discharge

The full story on climate change requires the long view:  “The science is clear that human activities over the last century have contributed to greenhouse-like warming of the Earth’s surface. Much of the global conversation around climate change fixates on what individual countries or regions are contributing to the problem, and what they will do (or not do) to reverse the tide.  But Colorado State University’s A.R. Ravishankara, University Distinguished Professor who holds joint appointments in the departments of chemistry and atmospheric science, says the full picture is longer and more complex than meets the eye. It involves a legacy of past actions, as well as irreversible commitments for the future. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  The full story on climate change requires the long view

Overcoming a climate change fallacy:  “Do you hear the words “greenhouse gas pollution” and immediately flip through a mental slideshow of billowing smokestacks and endless highways jammed with idling cars? I do. Or at least, I did, until I started digging into the growing body of climate change science that shows just how much nature – and the way people use, manage and conserve habitats around the world – is also part of the greenhouse gas pollution story, for good and for bad.  First the good, in the last year alone, Conservancy scientists, partner institutions and research universities have shown increasingly strong evidence that nature can help mitigate some of the human emissions of greenhouse gases in significant ways. ... ”  Read more from the Cool Green Science blog here:  Overcoming a climate change fallacy

The long dry: Why the world’s water supply is shrinking:  “A global study has found a paradox: our water supplies are shrinking at the same time as climate change is generating more intense rain. And the culprit is the drying of soils, say researchers, pointing to a world where drought-like conditions will become the new normal, especially in regions that are already dry.  The study — the most exhaustive global analysis of rainfall and rivers — was conducted by a team led by Professor Ashish Sharma at Australia’s University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney. It relied on actual data from 43,000 rainfall stations and 5,300 river monitoring sites in 160 countries, instead of basing its findings on model simulations of a future climate, which can be uncertain and at times questionable. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  The long dry: Why the world’s water supply is shrinking

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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