SCIENCE NEWS: Insects show the healing of toxic metal mining scars; Tree rings: Looking back on old growth to predict the future; The long memory of the Pacific Ocean; Research to watch in 2019; and more …

“Waste Solutions Don’t Grow on Trees”, photo by Pacific Northwest National Labs

In science news this week:

Insects Show the Healing of Toxic Metal Mining Scars:  “A hue reminiscent of orange soda might be appealing at the diner, but in rivers and streams, it’s a sign of serious damage. Open pit mining, which excavates strategic minerals from huge open pits dug into the land, is particularly harmful to the environment, exposing metallic dust, radioactive elements, and other potentially toxic contaminants. These tailings can easily leach into groundwater and streams.  …  Now, recent research from the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory (SNARL), part of the University of California system, and the US Environmental Protection Agency reveals that benthic invertebrates—the insects that dwell underneath the rocks of streams and rivers—offer a unique insight into remediation efforts after open pit mining has damaged an ecosystem. … ”  Read more from Environmental Monitor here:  Insects Show the Healing of Toxic Metal Mining Scars

A Valedictory Visit With Ellie Cohen as the CEO Leaves Point Blue: “By the time I got out of my car at the Petaluma headquarters of Point Blue Conservation Science on the morning of November 8, the sky had already turned a sickly yellowish tan. … What we couldn’t have known at that point was that this was the start of the deadliest wildfire in California history, leaving 86 people dead and thousands displaced.  This was an all-too-appropriate segue to my interview with Ellie Cohen, on the occasion of her impending departure from Point Blue Conservation Science (founded in 1965 as Point Reyes Bird Observatory/PRBO). Because if the world at large had been heeding Ellie for the past 12 years, we might already be on track to make the choices and changes necessary to avoid this apocalyptic, smoke-filled vision of the future of California … and the planet. … ”  Read more from Bay Nature here:  A Valedictory Visit With Ellie Cohen as the CEO Leaves Point Blue

(Tree) ring in the new year: Looking back on old growth to predict the future:  “The start of a new year is a great time to reflect on the past and look forward to the future. Scientists also do the same thing as part of their work.  But instead of compiling “Top 10” lists for the year and making a list of resolutions, scientists instead study things that happened in the past as a way to give us a better idea of what might happen in the future. This can be a really useful way to answer questions about things where we can’t set up an experiment in the lab, which is often the case when studying the environment.  In this study, a team of scientists wanted to find out what will happen to forest growth as carbon dioxide levels (CO2) increase in the atmosphere as we continue to burn gasoline, coal, and other fossil fuels. ... ”  Read more from EnviroBites here:  (Tree) ring in the new year: Looking back on old growth to predict the future

The long memory of the Pacific Ocean:  “The ocean has a long memory. When the water in today’s deep Pacific Ocean last saw sunlight, Charlemagne was the Holy Roman Emperor, the Song Dynasty ruled China and Oxford University had just held its very first class. During that time, between the 9th and 12th centuries, the earth’s climate was generally warmer before the cold of the Little Ice Age settled in around the 16th century. Now ocean surface temperatures are back on the rise but the question is, do the deepest parts of the ocean know that? … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  The long memory of the Pacific Ocean

How climate change can alter the toxicity of chemicals:  “We know climate change can affect our health in a multitude of ways— like by increasing rates of many diseases and temperature-related deaths. But have you ever wondered how climate change might affect humans by its effects on harmful chemicals?  This article looks at how climate change alters temperature and moisture, and how this can change the presence, movement and toxicity of chemicals in the environment. Altering the temperature or moisture can create or quicken the formation of certain chemicals and change how chemicals move through the environment. In turn, this can impact our health and that of other organisms on our planet. … ”  Read more from Envirobites here:  How climate change can alter the toxicity of chemicals

Learning at Biological Field Stations across America:  “Biological field stations (BFS) are invaluable tools for researchers whose work takes them outside. But they’re also filled with opportunities for the general public—and when laypeople learn about science and nature at biological field stations, everyone benefits. EM spoke to Colorado State University assistant professor Jill Zarestky about her recent research on the ways learning happens at BFS across the US.  For Dr. Zarestky, the work began with questions she and her colleagues couldn’t answer. For example, they wanted to know how field stations were approaching outreach, but they didn’t know, and there was no literature on the subject. ... ” Read more from Environmental Monitor here:  Learning at Biological Field Stations across America

What scientists can learn from sound and silence:  “Forget the old saw about a picture being worth a thousand words; when it comes to effective conservation, especially in tropical forests, sound just might be worth an entire library – words, pictures and all.  Why? Because, as a new paper in Science by TNC scientists and partners explains, sound holds the potential to help fill one of the most vexing evidence gaps in conservation: How do we know – what’s the evidence? – that certification programs, zero deforestation commitments and similar interventions are actually achieving their goals when it comes to conserving animal biodiversity in tropical forests? ... ”  Read more from the Cool Green Science blog here:  What scientists can learn from sound and silence

Here’s the research to watch in 2019:  “As urgency grows around the need for stronger climate action, so does demand for a deeper understanding of how the planet is already changing — and what to expect in the coming decades.  From the world’s melting ice sheets to its warming oceans, scientists are diligently investigating the finer details of the climate system and the consequences of global warming.  Climate scientists have published study after groundbreaking study in the past year. They’ve investigated the ways climate change has influenced extreme weather events, including everything from Hurricane Florence to record-breaking heat in Europe. They’ve documented accelerating ice loss in Greenland, new melting spots in Antarctica and alarming losses of Arctic sea ice. They’ve investigated changes in enormous ocean currents and major atmospheric patterns. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Here’s the research to watch in 2019

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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