SCIENCE NEWS: New research on sea level rise along California coast; A long view of California’s climate, Delta Social Science Task Force meeting; Pi me a river; Wetlands and carbon storage; and more …

Bacteria to fight tooth decay; Photo by BASF

In science news this week:

New US Geological Survey-led Research Helps California Coastal Managers Prioritize Planning and Mitigation Efforts Due to Rising Seas and Storms: “New U.S. Geological Survey-led coastal modeling research presents state, federal, and commercial entities with varying storm and sea level-rise scenarios to assist with planning for future infrastructure and mitigation needs along the California coast.   The research was published today in the journal Scientific Reports.   While most vulnerability analyses only look at flooding directly caused by sea level rise, this is the first study to examine a combination of the effects related to a changing climate on the California coast. The study modeled the impacts for a wide range of scenarios with sea-level rise increments from 0m to 2.0m as well as an extreme 5.0 m sea level rise case. Those SLR values were then combined with 4 different storm scenarios (average daily conditions, annual storm, 20-year storm, 100-year storm). … ”  Read more from the USGS here:  New US Geological Survey-led Research Helps California Coastal Managers Prioritize Planning and Mitigation Efforts Due to Rising Seas and Storms

West Coast Waters Grow More Productive with Shift Toward Cooler Conditions:  “The ocean off the West Coast is shifting from several years of unusually warm conditions marked by the marine heat wave known as the “warm blob,” toward a cooler and more productive regime that may boost salmon returns and populations of other ocean predators, though it is too early to say for certain, a new NOAA Fisheries report says.  … The 2019 ecosystem status report for the California Current Ecosystem that was presented to the Pacific Fishery Management Council this week notes overall increases in commercial fishery landings and revenues (with a few notable exceptions), as well as higher numbers and growth of California sea lions and some seabirds. … ”  Read more from the Northwest Fisheries Science Center here:  West Coast Waters Grow More Productive with Shift Toward Cooler Conditions

A Long View of California’s Climate:  “Deadly severe wildfires in California have scientists scrutinizing the underlying factors that could influence future extreme events. Using climate simulations and paleoclimate data dating back to the 16th century, a recent study looks closely at long-term upper-level wind and related moisture patterns to find clues.  The new research published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA examines jet stream and moisture patterns in California over a centuries-long time period—1571 to 2013—which is nearly four times longer than the instrumental period of record that begins in the latter part of the 19th century. ... ”  Read more from NOAA here:  A Long View of California’s Climate

Delta Social Science Task Force Meeting Summary, Recording, and Presentations:A summary of the Delta Social Science Task Force (SSTF) January 29, 2019 meeting is now available online.  The meeting primarily involved presentations to the SSTF members and audience from agencies like the Delta Stewardship Council, Delta Protection Commission, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy, and more. Presentations and discussion highlighted multiple common themes regarding ways to engage more social scientists and stakeholders and provide funding for social sciences in the Delta.”  Click here to access the meeting summary, recording, presentation slides, and more.

Fish Food for Food Fish: More California Fish Introductions:  “Once the introduction of non-native fishes began in California, both for food and for sport, it didn’t take long for managers to decide they needed to augment the forage available for the introduced species. Even the reservoir-anglers’ beloved kokanee, prized for its culinary quality, was sometimes stocked to serve as forage for larger trout! In the early days of fish introductions, when food and game fish were transported from east of the Rocky Mountains via railway car or other means, additional kinds of fish were frequently included in the shipments as forage to sustain the target species – often bass – during the journey. Such was probably the case for green sunfish and bluegill. ... ”  Read more from FishBio here:  Fish Food for Food Fish: More California Fish Introductions

On your mark …Winter is shifting into spring, and with the changing of the seasons comes the outmigration of Chinook salmon juveniles. That means it is all hands on deck for FISHBIO’s marking season. We mark salmon to test the efficiency of the rotary screw traps we use to monitor juvenile salmon migration. A specific number of Chinook salmon are marked with a brightly colored dye and then be released upstream from our trap. As the current pushes the salmon back down towards the trap, some will be caught and some will sail past it, continuing on their trip to the ocean with a free temporary tattoo. The amount of marked fish that we recapture, called the trap’s efficiency, will help us estimate the size of the juvenile salmon population in the Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and other local rivers. … ”  Read more from FishBio here:  On your mark … 

California’s Missing Monarchs: Scientists Work to Reverse a Worrisome Trend:  “For residents of many coastal California towns, the colorful Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus plexippus) migration has been a welcome wintertime sight for generations. The beautiful and distinctive orange-and-black patterned insects have historically congregated at more than 400 known sites in the Golden State. Visitors flock to see them, and some towns – such as Pacific Grove, Big Sur and Pismo Beach — have built entire economies around the return of the butterflies.  The life history of the Monarch butterfly is fascinating in that none of the individuals that arrive each winter have ever been there before. … ”  Read more from CDFW here:  California’s Missing Monarchs: Scientists Work to Reverse a Worrisome Trend

Flight of the jellyfish, eel and barnacle along the California coast: “Marine biologist Jacqueline Sones was strolling along a beach near this Northern California fishing village one foggy summer morning when she spotted an unfamiliar jellyfish bobbing in the surf.  Her curiosity turned to shock, however, when she opened a field guide and identified the creature with a white bowl-shaped bell, vivid stripes and long tentacles.  “I’d discovered something unprecedented,” Sones recalled Monday. “It was a purple-striped jellyfish.”  While the impressively hued Chrysaora colorata is no stranger to Southern California, or Monterey Bay for that matter, it had never been recorded venturing this far north, according to the researcher. ... ”  Read more from PhysOrg here:  Flight of the jellyfish, eel and barnacle along the California coast

Role of sea urchins on California kelp:  “California sheephead and spiny lobsters may be helping control sea urchin populations in Southern California kelp forests, where sea otters — a top urchin predator — have long been missing, according to a new San Diego State University (SDSU) study published in the journal Ecology. The research provides new insight into the complex predator-prey relationships in kelp forests that can be seen in the absence of sea otters.  The study is also the first to experimentally test the relative impact, or rate of feeding, of the California sheephead and spiny lobsters in comparison to sea otters, whose historical range spanned from British Columbia, Canada to Baja California, Mexico. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Role of sea urchins on California kelp

The connection between grazing, vegetation cover and abundance of kangaroo rats is clear — cattle grazing improves the species’ survivability: “You could say Dan Grout’s career in wildlife biology began in third grade when he learned desert kangaroo rats are one of a few species of mammals that do not need to drink water to survive.  “They can actually metabolize the water they need from the carbohydrates in the seeds they eat, they are amazing!”  Grout never lost his curiosity for these small hopping creatures. He worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Colorado, California, Hawaii and many remote Pacific islands monitoring endangered species, but for him the kangaroo rats of California are among his favorite. He left the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to form his own consulting firm, focusing on small mammals, including the kangroo rat. … ”  Read more from the US FWS here: The connection between grazing, vegetation cover and abundance of kangaroo rats is clear — cattle grazing improves the species’ survivability

Pi me a river: A meandering tale of pi, rivers, and water quality:  “Every year on March 14th, scientists, engineers, and mathematicians dig into their favorite type of pie. While I’m a firm believer that you never need a special occasion to do so, on this particular day it is in celebration of one of the most famous numbers: pi (π). Pi is a number that goes on and on (check out a million digits here), but just taking the first few digits it is roughly equal to 3.14. It is the number that you get when you divide the distance around a circle (circumference) by the distance across the circle (diameter). While this is important if you are ever trying to find the area of a circle, pi also pops up in several other places, including instances where the shape of things in the environment have an impact on how they function. A recent study led by Dipankar Dwivedi showed how this can be the case for rivers, which is where pi can actually help us to understand what is happening. … ”  Read more from EnviroBites here:  Pi me a river: A meandering tale of pi, rivers, and water quality

New App Makes Endangered Species Habitat Easy to Find: “NOAA Fisheries has launched a new Protected Resources Application (app) that quickly and easily displays the locations of marine and anadromous species and their habitats protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The app draws on geographic information system (GIS) data, making it simple for the public, tribes, and government agencies, among others, to identify protected habitats. For example, users can easily create detailed maps comparing the habitat of different ESA-listed salmon and steelhead stocks and see where their habitats overlap. ... ”  Read more from NOAA here:  New App Makes Endangered Species Habitat Easy to Find

Balloons More Deadly For Seabirds Than Any Other Kind of Plastic:  “Balloons and balloon fragments are the deadliest kinds of marine pollution for seabirds, killing almost one in five birds that ingest the soft plastic, according to a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports.  The research, conducted by scientists at the University of Tasmania, examined the cause of death of 1,733 seabirds, 32 percent of which had ingested marine debris. … ”  Read more from Yale 360 here:  Balloons More Deadly For Seabirds Than Any Other Kind of Plastic

Using Tiny Organisms to Unlock Big Environmental Mysteries: “When you hear about the biological processes that influence climate and the environment, such as carbon fixation or nitrogen recycling, it’s easy to think of them as abstract and incomprehensibly large-scale phenomena. Yet parts of these planet-wide processes are actually driven by the tangible actions of organisms at every scale of life, beginning at the smallest: the microorganisms living in the air, soil, and water.  So, if you want to understand how an ecosystem – be it a tropical forest, an agricultural zone, or a watershed – will fare in the face of natural and human-induced changes, you need to understand what the microbes in that community are up to. But how do you examine the roles that a diverse group of creatures play if you can’t even see them without a microscope? ... ”  Read more from Berkeley Lab News Center here:  Using Tiny Organisms to Unlock Big Environmental Mysteries

As sea level rises, wetlands crank up their carbon storage: “Some wetlands perform better under pressure. A new study revealed that when faced with sea-level rise, coastal wetlands respond by burying even more carbon in their soils.  Coastal wetlands, which include marshes, mangroves and seagrasses, already store carbon more efficiently than any other natural ecosystem, including forests. The latest study, published March 7 in the journal Nature, looked at how coastal wetlands worldwide react to rising seas and discovered they can rise to the occasion, offering additional protection against climate change. … ” Read more from EurekAlert here:  As sea level rises, wetlands crank up their carbon storage

Make a home for wildlife:  “When I give presentations, the most frequent question I receive is “What can I possibly do to help?” Unfortunately, I have found that people ask this question because they believe there is not much they can do to help.  Why? In no small, part the conservation/environmental community is very adept at pointing out the scope of the problems we’re facing. Given the global nature of climate change, habitat loss, invasive species and other issues, what can one individual possibly do? However, constantly emphasizing the world’s significant problems is not motivating. People feel as if the problems are so big that they can’t make a contribution.  I was heartened when I opened Charles Fergus’s new book and saw the first chapter was titled, simply, “You Can Make A Difference.” … ”  Read more from the Cool Green Science blog here:  Make a home for wildlife

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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