SCIENCE NEWS: Water cycle is speeding up over much of the U.S.; The genetics of Yosemite’s trout; Genetic “nets” detect DNA as accurately as real ones; Scientists teaching sturgeon to hunt; Coming to pay per view: Reigning champ ocean vs. the scrappy land; and more …

Difference in water cycle intensity, 1945-2014

In science news this week: Water Cycle is Speeding Up Over Much of the U.S.; An Ocean Away: The Genetics of Yosemite’s Trout; Global Warming Is Pushing Pacific Salmon to the Brink, Federal Scientists Warn; Genetic “Nets” Detect DNA as Accurately as Real Ones, New Research Shows; At a California oyster hatchery, farming native seaweed improved water quality; Scientists Are Teaching Sturgeon How to Hunt; A Biodiversity Analysis in Los Angeles; Bringing Climate Projections Down to Size for Water Managers; Coming to pay per view: Reigning champ ocean vs. the scrappy land; and more …

Water Cycle is Speeding Up Over Much of the U.S.:  ““Water is everywhere on Earth, and it is a unique molecule that is critical for life. Where, when, and how it moves—the water cycle—is equally critical.  Water falls over Earth’s surface as rain, snow, or ice. From there, it evaporates and returns to the atmosphere; seeps into the ground as soil moisture or groundwater; or runs off into rivers or streams. It continually evaporates from bodies of water, gets transpired from vegetation, sublimes from ice and snow, condenses, and precipitates along these pathways.  In new research, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) showed that there has been an increase in the flow between the various stages of the water cycle over most the U.S. in the past seven decades. … ”  Read more from the Earth Observatory here: Water Cycle is Speeding Up Over Much of the U.S.

An Ocean Away: The Genetics of Yosemite’s Trout:  “It’s been over 150 years since the rivers in Yosemite National Park flowed freely to the ocean without interruption by dams and reservoirs. Historically, steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss), the ocean-run form of rainbow trout) would have journeyed from the ocean to the snowmelt-fed upper reaches of the Tuolumne and Merced rivers to spawn, and then made their way back downstream, unimpeded by man-made barriers. More than 30 steelhead generations have passed since that time (one generation is about five years), and obviously no fish living today has any memory of dam-free trips to sea.  But, as a study by researchers from the National Marine Fisheries Service and UC Santa Cruz revealed, even after a century and a half, the ocean-run legacy of Yosemite’s rainbow trout lives on in their DNA (Pearse and Campbell 2018). … ”  Read more from FishBio here: An Ocean Away: The Genetics of Yosemite’s Trout

Global Warming Is Pushing Pacific Salmon to the Brink, Federal Scientists Warn:  “Pacific salmon that spawn in Western streams and rivers have been struggling for decades to survive water diversions, dams and logging. Now, global warming is pushing four important populations in California, Oregon and Idaho toward extinction, federal scientists warn in a new study.  The new research shows that several of the region’s salmon populations are now bumping into temperature limits, with those that spawn far inland after lengthy summer stream migrations and those that spend a lot of time in coastal habitats like river estuaries among the most at risk. … ”  Read more from Inside Climate News here:  Global Warming Is Pushing Pacific Salmon to the Brink, Federal Scientists Warn

Genetic “Nets” Detect DNA as Accurately as Real Ones, New Research Shows:  “Fish and wildlife constantly shed bits of genetic material into the surrounding environment. This environmental DNA (or eDNA) can be collected and analyzed to determine which species have recently visited a location.  Now scientists at NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center, the University of Washington, and the Skagit River System Cooperative have shown that eDNA is just as effective in tracking threatened Chinook populations as casting nets into the water to catch the fish swimming by. The finding, published in Conservation Biology, is an important validation of eDNA as a tool for assessing the size and movement of fish populations. … ”  Read more from the Northwest Fisheries Science Center here: Genetic “Nets” Detect DNA as Accurately as Real Ones, New Research Shows

At a California oyster hatchery, farming native seaweed improved water quality:  “Native seaweed has the potential to be cultivated in California coastal waters and used to alleviate the effects of local ocean acidification, according to a new study funded by NOAA’s California Sea Grant. Besides providing a local and sustainable source of food, researchers and aquaculture producers are exploring how seaweed production may benefit its surrounding environment.  “We were interested in how seaweed can help moderate the acidity of the water that it is grown in and how it can be used as a nutrient absorption tool,” said project leader Catherine O’Hare. She co-founded the Salt Point Seaweed Company which makes culinary products from wild harvested seaweed from the north coast of California. Along with co-founders Tessa Emmer and Avery Resor, the woman-owned company is conducting seaweed cultivation research in California. ... ”  Read more from Climate.gov here: At a California oyster hatchery, farming native seaweed improved water quality

Scientists Are Teaching Sturgeon How to Hunt:  “How do you restore a population of fish when every time you release them into the wild, they suffer a quick and almost complete die-off because, having been born in a hatchery, they have no idea how to fend for themselves? Enroll them in a wilderness survival class.  The species in question is the Baltic sturgeon, a fish that can grow to the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. Historically, the gigantic fish was found in rivers throughout the northern hemisphere, but fishing, habitat destruction, and pollution have driven it to extinction in many places. In Germany, no sturgeon have been caught in the wild in about two decades. … ”  Read more from Hakai Magazine here: Scientists Are Teaching Sturgeon How to Hunt

A Study of Microplastics in San Francisco Bay Could Help Cleanup Strategies Elsewhere:  “A three-year study of microplastic flecks from plastic bottles, bags and other debris that end up in San Francisco Bay could help the Bay Area and other regions better understand and manage the problem. It comes as California is doing its own assessment of microplastics pollution so it can devise a strategy to deal with it.”  Read the article at Western Water here: A Study of Microplastics in San Francisco Bay Could Help Cleanup Strategies Elsewhere

A Biodiversity Analysis in Los Angeles:  “Rich biodiversity can exist in cities. This one of the key messages of the UN Cities and Biodiversity Outlook project — the world’s first global analysis of how future urban expansion is likely to impact biodiversity.  In the half-decade since the project was launched, several studies have nurtured our collective understanding and appreciation of the multitude of plants, animals, and natural communities found in built environments. Focused research on urban systems has yielded new insights on urban plant diversity, demonstrated that there are important differences between urban animals and their wild cousins, made us aware of the services provided by animals living in an urban context, and highlighted challenges facing urban habitats. … ”  Read more from the Cool Green Science blog here:  A Biodiversity Analysis in Los Angeles

Saving the Amargosa Vole:  “Wildlife veterinarians recently hit an important milestone in their collective efforts to conserve a tiny endangered mammal native to the Mojave Desert. The population of Amargosa voles (Microtus californicus scirpensis), restricted to one small town in Inyo County, is now perilously small, due to habitat destruction, climate change and water diversions created to benefit humans. With much of the voles’ natural habitat now decimated, scientists estimate that fewer than 500 currently exist in the wild. (Read the original California Department of Fish and Wildlife Science Spotlight on Amargosa voles). … ” Read more from CDFW here: Saving the Amargosa Vole

Pesticides and Fertilizers: A toxic relationship that is stressful for frogs:  “Modern civilization would not be possible without the manifestation of agricultural practices thousands of years ago. It had a modest beginning of gathering wild grains to plant and harvest to sustain one’s own family. Today, large-scale industrial agriculture is widespread. In an effort to increase crop productivity and yield, farmers routinely use chemicals. Some of these chemicals are used to provide plants the nutrients they need to grow (i.e. fertilizers) and others are used to control the presence of organisms such as insects and weeds that damage crops (i.e. pesticides). Pesticides and fertilizers are frequently combined to form a mixture that is sprayed onto the land during the growing season. Since the 1960s, the use of chemicals in agriculture (agrochemicals) has dramatically increased. This trend will continue to rise in response to a growing human population. While these types of chemicals have given us a great advantage, they have also come at a cost to the environment. … ”  Read more from EnviroBites here: Pesticides and Fertilizers: A toxic relationship that is stressful for frogs

Previously unknown mechanism causes increased forest water use:  “Researchers have discovered a previously unknown mechanism that causes increased forest water use, advances understanding of soil biogeochemical control of forest water cycles and highlights threats to plants from water stress under acid deposition, according to a new study.  In a study published in the journal Science Advances, the researchers report the mechanism works this way: Sulfuric and nitric acid fall to the ground when fossil fuels are burned, causing acidification of the soil. When that happens, a significant amount of soil calcium washes out of the soil, and then plants suffer from calcium deficiency. Calcium deficiency causes the plants to intensify their use of water. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here: Previously unknown mechanism causes increased forest water use

Cities Acidify the Water Next Door: Coastal communities have a stronger effect on local ocean acidification than previously believed:  “Sea turtles caught in fishing nets. Albatross stomachs clogged with bottle caps. Campaigns to clean up beaches and ban single-use plastics often use images of remote animals to elicit action, urging us to think global, act local. Yet when it comes to carbon emissions and their effects on ocean chemistry, a recent study suggests that if you live near the coast, you ought to think local, too.  That’s because new measurements taken in California’s Monterey Bay show that it absorbs carbon dioxide emissions from the surrounding cities and agricultural lands, making it more acidic. The finding is reminiscent of the urban heat island effect, in which cities tend to be a few degrees warmer than the surrounding countryside. … ”  Read more from Hakai Magazine here: Cities Acidify the Water Next Door: Coastal communities have a stronger effect on local ocean acidification than previously believed

Bringing Climate Projections Down to Size for Water Managers:  “Models of what global climate will look like in 10, 50, and 100 years get more sophisticated every year. But what will climate change mean for water resources in regional communities? A group of researchers is building tools to help scientists and regional water managers answer that question.  “We’ve been developing new models and new techniques…to refine our understanding of the uncertainty in projections going forward—for hydrology, for snowpack, for important water resources, for flood extremes,” said Andy Wood, a hydrometeorologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo. Wood is the principal investigator of the project. ... ”  Read more from EOS here: Bringing Climate Projections Down to Size for Water Managers

A Cloudspotters’ Guide to Climate Change:  “On a lost-in-time island off the coast of England, a group called the Cloud Appreciation Society gathers to look skyward and bask in the delights of nature. But halfway around the world, scientists have modeled a scenario in which Stratocumulus actually disappear under extreme climate conditions. What’s a cloud lover to do in the Age of the Anthropocene? … ”  Continue reading at Reuters here:  A Cloudspotters’ Guide to Climate Change

Coming to pay per view: Reigning champ ocean vs. the scrappy land:  “There’s no doubt ENSO is a major heavyweight in the battle to dominate the world’s climate, which is why we obsess over conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean. But there are other climate drivers that spend time in the ring and have their moments of glory. Here, we will cover some exciting new research that suggests that the land surface, and in particular soil moisture, can sometimes impact atmospheric flows across thousands of miles!  One of the great pleasures of working at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center is that some scientists are interested in visiting us and introducing us to the latest ideas in climate research.  Dr. Haiyan Teng of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is one such scientist who stopped by to go over her intriguing findings (1) and answer some questions, which are shared below. ... ”  Read more from Climate.gov here: Coming to pay per view: Reigning champ ocean vs. the scrappy land

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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