SCIENCE NEWS: Some Pacific salmon populations are especially at risk from climate change; Discovering Delta data online; CA’s disappearing kelp forests; Climate change is very real but uncertain; Fighting climate change by reducing cow burps; and more …

The Atlas Mountains in southern Morocco, Africa. (USGS)

In science news this week: Some Pacific salmon populations are especially at risk from climate change; Discovering Delta Data Online; California’s Disappearing Kelp Forests: What Scientists and Divers can do to Reverse this Trend; Nature: the next big thing in climate adaptation technology?; San Francisco State team tests surprising new tools for slowing climate change; The California Tree Mortality Data Collection Network — Enhanced communication and collaboration among scientists and stakeholders; Climate Change Is Very Real. But So Much of It Is Uncertain; Fighting Climate Change by Reducing Cow Burps; Melting Ice, Warming Ocean: Take Control in a New Simulation; and more …

Some Pacific salmon populations are especially at risk from climate change:  “Four population groups of Pacific salmon in California, Oregon, and Idaho are especially vulnerable to climate change, according to a new study in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Lisa Crozier of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and colleagues. The results will be useful for prioritizing protection efforts for salmon populations along the entire west coast of the United States. … To better understand the vulnerability of Pacific salmon, the authors studied 33 threatened or endangered of Pacific salmon, encompassing from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. For each population group, the authors looked at 20 different attributes in order to assess the group’s vulnerability to change. … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here: Some Pacific salmon populations are especially at risk from climate change

Discovering Delta Data Online:  “The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is arguably the most extensively studied and monitored ecosystem in the world. This has generated mountains of data on everything from the locations of the smallest fish to the water quality conditions of the largest reservoir. Knowing where to access the most up-to-date information can be a real challenge, but fortunately several online dashboards can help regulators, scientists, managers, and stakeholders alike seek out the information they need. These websites are SacPAS (Central Valley Prediction and Assessment of Salmon), the California Data Exchange Center (CDEC), and Bay-Delta Live. Each of these web portals offers a treasure trove of Delta data, each with its own specialties and limitations. Here we present a roadmap of these three online resources, including some of the data they provide on fisheries, hydrology, and climate, as well as unique features of each. … ”  Read more from FishBio here: Discovering Delta Data Online

California’s Disappearing Kelp Forests: What Scientists and Divers can do to Reverse this Trend:  “The view of northern California’s beautiful coastline has historically been pristine and breathtaking. With dense kelp forest canopies blanketing the surface of the nearshore areas and protecting the abundant rockfishes, red abalone, sea stars and red urchins that lived below, it was a healthy, natural ecosystem rich with thriving inhabitants. Unfortunately, the ocean is now changing, and this idyllic scene is no more. But California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) marine scientists, citizen scientists and grassroots groups are all coming together to help turn back time.Their immediate focus is to eradicate the ever-increasing purple urchins. … ”  Read more from CDFW here: California’s Disappearing Kelp Forests: What Scientists and Divers can do to Reverse this Trend

Nature: the next big thing in climate adaptation technology?: “The term infrastructure might conjures roads, pipes and walls — pretty much the antithesis of nature. But some scientists and engineers want to reverse that impression by harnessing nature as infrastructure. The idea that plants and soil can prevent flooding and purify water is gaining traction in an era of rising seas and severe storms. … One solution? Go green — as in green infrastructure.  It’s time we “start to think of our natural systems as this incredibly valuable technology,” according to Letitia Grenier, a conservation biologist who directs the Resilient Landscapes Program at the nonprofit San Francisco Estuary Institute. She said vegetation can be a better flood barrier than hard infrastructure. … ”  Read more from Marketplace Tech here: Nature: the next big thing in climate adaptation technology?

San Francisco State team tests surprising new tools for slowing climate change:  “You may have heard that planting forests is an important part of fighting climate change. But have you considered the humble meadow?  This month, a group of researchers working out of San Francisco State University’s Sierra Nevada Field Campus received funding for a five-year study to determine if restoring degraded meadows to their former, more lush state could make these ecosystems more effective tools for slowing the pace of climate change.  Oliphant adjusts an instrument that measures how fast gases flow between the meadow and the atmosphere over an area about three football fields in size.  “Meadows have the greatest amount of native plant species diversity in the Sierra,” explained San Francisco State Professor Jerry Davis, chair of the University’s Department of Geography & Environment. … ” Read more from SF State here:  San Francisco State team tests surprising new tools for slowing climate change

The California Tree Mortality Data Collection Network — Enhanced communication and collaboration among scientists and stakeholders:  “Over 147 million dead trees were detected in California by the U.S. Forest Service Aerial Detection Survey (USFS ADS) from 2010 to 2018 (USDA 2019). The massive tree mortality, mostly in the Sierra Nevada and evident in swaths of conifers with red needles, resulted from the 2012–2016 drought and subsequent explosions in native bark beetle populations. While levels of mortality have declined in the last 2 years, the consequences will last for decades to come. Trees that died will fall over and surface fuel loads will increase — already the accumulation of millions of tons of dead material on forest floors is vastly outpacing the resources of local, state and federal jurisdictions to remove it. Urgent dialogue has started among UC scientists, forest managers, and public agencies to manage the consequences of the unprecedented tree die-off and increase the resiliency of forests to future droughts. … ”  Read more from California Agriculture here:  The California Tree Mortality Data Collection Network — Enhanced communication and collaboration among scientists and stakeholders

Restoring Natural Fire Regimes Can Yield More Water Downstream:  “Mountain watersheds are crucial sources of fresh water across western North America, where the year-to-year availability of water depends in large part on variations in vegetation cover and climate. For much of the past century, fire suppression efforts in many areas have led to denser forests with growing water demands that have contributed to increased fire risk and water scarcity.  Researchers have previously hypothesized that reintroducing natural fire regimes to these landscapes—essentially letting natural patterns of lightning-ignited fires play out absent suppression efforts—should help mitigate water stress and decrease fire hazard, but in practice few studies have examined how restoring natural wildfire conditions affects a forest’s long-term water balance. ... ”  Read more from EOS here: Restoring Natural Fire Regimes Can Yield More Water Downstream

Monsoon Rains Have Become More Intense in the U.S. Southwest:  “Monsoon rains in the U.S. Southwest have increased in intensity by as much as 11 percent since the 1970s, meaning more rain is falling in less time, according to research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The number of these rainstorms has also increased 15 percent in the last half-century.  The scientists say the uptick is very likely due to global warming, noting that temperatures in the region have risen an average 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit per decade since the 1960s. While these climate change-charged storms contain more precipitation, they don’t seem to cover a larger area. The research was published recently in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. ... ”  Read more from Yale E360 here:  Monsoon Rains Have Become More Intense in the U.S. Southwest

Water Consumption Work at EROS Important Asset to Colorado River Concerns:  “Western states looking at critical water shortages along the Colorado River got a reprieve this past April when President Trump approved legislation allowing the Interior Secretary—through the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR)—to oversee an updated water conservation plan along the river’s Lower Basin.  In addition, those states are getting a hand from scientists at the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center.  The bill signed April 16, 2019, enables the Interior Secretary to implement a basin-wide agreement that had been negotiated for more than five years among Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. The plan is to cut back water usage between 2020 and 2026 to protect levels of the Colorado River’s two largest reservoirs—Lake Mead and Lake Powell. The agreement, called the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan, was implemented on May 20, 2019. ... ” Read more from USGS here: Water Consumption Work at EROS Important Asset to Colorado River Concerns

The Legacy of the Blob: From California to Alaska, animals born during the infamous Blob are coming of age:  “In 2013, a mass of unusually warm water appeared in the Gulf of Alaska. Over the next three years, the Blob, as it became known, spread more than 3,200 kilometers, reaching down to Mexico. This freak marine heatwave, combined with a strong El Niño, drastically affected the Pacific Ocean ecosystem killing thousands of animals and changing the distribution of species along the coast.  It’s been three years since the Blob dissipated, and researchers are taking stock of its long-term impacts on fish and other wildlife.  Last month, Laurie Weitkamp, a fisheries biologist with the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, and her colleagues released a report detailing how the Blob affected species found in the northern California Current ecosystem, which runs from the Canadian border to southern Oregon. ... ”  Read more from Hakai Magazine here: The Legacy of the Blob: From California to Alaska, animals born during the infamous Blob are coming of age.

Climate Change Is Very Real. But So Much of It Is Uncertain:  “One of the more terrifying elements of climate change is the uncertainty of it all. You start with the big picture of a warming planet, but as you zoom in you find ever more climatic and geological and biological systems interacting with one another—a complexity unfathomable for the human mind. We’re talking about a crisis that is affecting every organism and every square inch of this planet.  That makes calculating the carbon budget—the amount of greenhouse gases humanity can emit globally while adhering to certain goals—an unenviable task. ... ”  Read more from WIRED Magazine here: Climate Change Is Very Real. But So Much of It Is Uncertain

Chew on This: Fighting Climate Change by Reducing Cow Burps:  “If you have studied climate change, you might know that the ocean is often referred to as a “carbon sink”, meaning it can capture and store excess carbon that is emitted on land. One way this can occur is through the many things that grow in the ocean – for example, algae or seaweed take in CO2 to produce their own food. Now, scientists have started to wonder if there are other ways these photosynthetic organisms can help combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gases on land. … ”  Read more from EnviroBites here: Chew on This: Fighting Climate Change by Reducing Cow Burps

Melting Ice, Warming Ocean: Take Control in a New Simulation:  “Warm the Antarctic, and southern Florida drowns. And as West Antarctica melts, its famous peninsula becomes an island.  These calamities are, for now, safely contained in a web-based simulation just released to the public. You can take charge of the controls – ice melt caused by a warming ocean, snowfall, temperature, friction – and get a feel for how a warming world could diminish the frozen continent and raise sea levels over the coming century.  But the newest simulation from scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory isn’t just an entertaining toy. It’s fed by real data from the powerful Ice Sheet System Model, or ISSM – the same computer model scientists use to try to predict how quickly polar ice will melt, as well as where, and when, rising seas will inundate shorelines. … ”  Read more from NASA here: Melting Ice, Warming Ocean: Take Control in a New Simulation

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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