SCIENCE NEWS: Sierra seedlings illustrate effects of climate change on next generation of forests; Does limited underground water storage make plants less susceptible to drought?; As the oceans acidify, these oyster farmers are fighting back; Podcast: The incredible shrinking hydraulic laboratory; and more …

Bacteria; Pacific Northwest National Labs

In science news this week: Sierra Seedlings Illustrate Effects of Climate Change on Next Generation of Forests; Does limited underground water storage make plants less susceptible to drought?; As the oceans acidify, these oyster farmers are fighting back; New eDNA Sampler Filters for Fish; Podcast: The Incredible Shrinking Hydraulic Laboratory; Atmospheric rivers getting warmer along U.S. West Coast; Most illustrations of the water cycle are missing an important ingredient: People.; and more …

Sierra Seedlings Illustrate Effects of Climate Change on Next Generation of Forests:  “Climate change is bad news for forests, and a new study by UC Merced Professor Emily Moran demonstrates one aspect of that news.  Higher summer temperatures hurt tree seedlings’ growth and survival.  But whether that is entirely bad depends on the degree of change in the number of young trees.  “One of the reasons we’re so concerned about forest fires is because of forest density,” she said. “If there are somewhat fewer seedlings and saplings, there’s less fuel for big destructive fires. On the other hand, if there are too few seedlings there won’t be a next generation to replace adult trees when they die.” … ”  Read more from UC Merced here: Sierra Seedlings Illustrate Effects of Climate Change on Next Generation of Forests

Does limited underground water storage make plants less susceptible to drought?  “You might expect that plants hoping to thrive in California’s boom-or-bust rain cycle would choose to set down roots in a place that can store lots of water underground to last through drought years.  But some of the most successful plant communities in the state — and probably in Mediterranean climates worldwide — that are characterized by wet winters and dry summers have taken a different approach. They’ve learned to thrive in areas with a below-ground water storage capacity barely large enough to hold the water that falls even in lean years. … ”  Read more from Berkeley News here: Does limited underground water storage make plants less susceptible to drought?

As the oceans acidify, these oyster farmers are fighting back:  “When visitors to Hog Island Oyster Co. shuck Pacific oysters at picnic tables overlooking Tomales Bay, it’s the final stage in a story that founding partner Terry Sawyer likes to tell about the shellfish, the bay, and all the steps that went into bringing the briny delicacies to the plate just a few hundred meters from where they were harvested.  It’s a story that now also touches on the carbon cycle, climate change, and the ways in which the very chemistry of the ocean is shifting and how small businesses like Hog Island – along with the entire ocean ecosystem – are struggling to adapt. ... ”  Read more from the Christian Science Monitor here: As the oceans acidify, these oyster farmers are fighting back

New eDNA Sampler Filters for Fish:  “If uncoiled and stretched to its full length, the DNA contained in a single human cell would be about two meters long, and the total length of all the DNA in a human body would span twice the diameter of the solar system! This astonishing abundance of genetic material means that living organisms are constantly shedding a massive library of genetic data into their environment in the form of sloughed off cells as they go about their lives, thereby providing a molecular trail of breadcrumbs for scientists to follow. This DNA that exists outside of an organism is known as environmental DNA, or eDNA, and a rapidly growing field of science is focused on the detection and analysis of these molecules. Environmental DNA represents a particularly powerful tool in aquatic habitats, where taking a water sample can help detect fish species that are rare or difficult to sample with traditional methods, determine which fish species are spawning in a given area, detect nearby terrestrial animals, and much more. ... ”  Read more from FishBio here: New eDNA Sampler Filters for Fish

To Clean Drinking Water, Just Add Microbes:  “Like many small water utilities in California, the Sunny Slope Water Company in Pasadena has a nitrate pollution problem. The chemical, a legacy of fertilizers used in the state’s huge agriculture industry, has been linked to birth defects and cancer at high levels.  To meet California’s drinking water standards for nitrates, Sunny Slope had to blend water across its five wells, which serve 38,000 homes. But when one of those wells reached nitrate levels that forced its closure, the company had to tap into a more expensive reservoir, says its general manager Ken Tcheng.  The experience sent Tcheng searching for a cheaper solution. … ”  Read more from Scientific American here: To Clean Drinking Water, Just Add Microbes

The Outfall Podcast: The Incredible Shrinking Hydraulic Laboratory:When David Werth started this lab over five years ago he literally bet the house by maxing out his credit cards and getting an instrumental loan to start the lab. His bet paid off. David is one of those guys that is full of passion when he is describing the lab. This is one of only a few labs in the world that conducts hundreds of physical hydraulic model studies for a variety of water intake and pump stations.  This episode explains why physical models are still important, why a dimensionless number holds a secret to scaling a model, and why water doesn’t always behave the way we think it will.” (Podcast Source)
For more information on David Werth’s work, check out this article: Where Art and Hard Core Engineering Mix: The World of Physical Models

Atmospheric rivers getting warmer along U.S. West Coast: “Most of the West Coast of the United States relies on a healthy winter snowpack to provide water through the dry summer months. But when precipitation falls as rain rather than snow, it can diminish summer water supplies, as well as trigger floods and landslides.  A new study in AGU’s Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres finds atmospheric rivers –plumes of moisture that deliver much of the west’s —have gotten warmer over the past 36 years. … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here: Atmospheric rivers getting warmer along U.S. West Coast

Atmospheric rivers drive local sea-level rise:  “In 2015, two sites on the west coast of North America saw sea-level rise of around half a metre during a couple of strong atmospheric river events. Although the boosts lasted for only five to seven days, the average sea-level rise from January to March 2015 at Neah Bay in Washington would be 6 cm lower without the effect of atmospheric rivers, according to analysis.  The study suggests that any long-term changes in atmospheric rivers could impact sea-level variation along the coast. … ”  Read more from Physics World here: Atmospheric rivers drive local sea-level rise

Harmful algal blooms in lakes, reservoirs:  “Harmful algal blooms can cause big problems in coastal areas and lakes across the United States. When toxin-containing aquatic organisms multiply and form a bloom, it can sicken people and pets, contaminate drinking water, and force closures at boating and swimming sites.  With limited resources to monitor these often-unpredictable blooms, water managers are turning to new technologies from NASA and its partners to detect and keep track of potential hazards. This is particularly critical in lakes and reservoirs that people use for both recreation and water supply. ... ”  Read more from Science Daily here: Harmful algal blooms in lakes, reservoirs

Most illustrations of the water cycle are missing an important ingredient: People.:  “Some 80% of wastewater worldwide goes back into ecosystems without getting treated for pollution. Human-caused climate change is making droughts more common and water more scarce, threatening to displace tens to hundreds of millions in the next decade. People use water to grow crops, cool power plants, flush toilets and more. And global demand for water keeps climbing, with a projected rise of 20–30% over the next 30 years.  But if you just looked at sketches of the water cycle — the diagrams that pop up everywhere from elementary school textbooks to scientific publications — you wouldn’t know about this human impact. … ”  Read more from Ensia here: Most illustrations of the water cycle are missing an important ingredient: People.

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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