In science news this week: A Diverse Delta: Integrating Social and Natural Sciences; Removing Tiny Shrimp May Help Climate-Proof Lake Tahoe’s Clarity; Microplastics: Not Just an Ocean Problem; Endangered Shasta Crayfish Have New Refuge in Rock Creek; Research cruise off California finds life lacking in parts of the ocean; Meet the Bay’s Incredible Swimming Worms; Climate change likely to increase human exposure to toxic methylmercury; Confronting the unpredictable: Meteorologists can’t forecast the weather more than 2-3 weeks in advance. And they never will.; and more …
A Diverse Delta: Integrating Social and Natural Sciences: “The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has been extensively studied in terms of its biology, chemistry, and physics, but this wealth of data leaves out a crucial piece of the puzzle: people. In the words of environmental anthropologist Sara Breslow, “People cause environmental problems, people experience them as problems, people perceive them as problems, and people are the only ones who can solve them.” Understanding the economic, cultural, and social connections between people and their environment is essential for forming lasting partnerships and overcoming barriers to effective conservation. However, social sciences are often belatedly tacked on to natural resource projects as an afterthought, or even left out entirely. In hopes of promoting the integration of the human factor into the numerous research, conservation, and restoration enterprises in the Delta, social scientists from across the country recently came together for a workshop at UC Davis. … ” Read more from FishBio here: A Diverse Delta: Integrating Social and Natural Sciences
Removing Tiny Shrimp May Help Climate-Proof Lake Tahoe’s Clarity: “Lake Tahoe, with its iconic blue waters straddling the borders of Nevada and California, continues to face a litany of threats related to climate change. But a promising new project to remove tiny, invasive shrimp could be a big step toward climate-proofing its famed lake clarity. That’s according to the annual Tahoe: State of the Lake report, released today by the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center. The report presents data from 2018 regarding lake clarity, temperature, snowpack, invasive species, algae, nutrient loads and more, all in the context of the long-term record. … ” Read more from UC Davis here: Removing Tiny Shrimp May Help Climate-Proof Lake Tahoe’s Clarity
Microplastics: Not Just an Ocean Problem: “On a recent day at the beach at Lake Tahoe, paddle boarders glide along cobalt blue waters, sunbathers lay out their chairs for the day, and Katie Senft is leaning over, staring intently at the sand. Senft is a staff researcher at the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center. She and three interns are looking for microplastics—tiny fragments of plastic smaller than a grain of rice—along the shoreline. From the infamous “Garbage Patch” islands of floating plastic to the guts of fish and bellies of birds, plastics of all sizes are ubiquitous and well-documented in the ocean. But little data exists on microplastics in lakes. If Senft’s preliminary research at one of the clearest, cleanest lakes in the world is any indication, the problem is widespread in freshwater systems, as well. … ” Read more from UC Davis here: Microplastics: Not Just an Ocean Problem
Endangered Shasta Crayfish Have New Refuge in Rock Creek: “A 20-year, multiagency effort to find a safe haven for California’s only remaining native crayfish culminated recently with the release of 28 Shasta Crayfish (Pacifastacus fortis) into a restored section of Rock Creek in Shasta County. The Shasta Crayfish has been in decline and under assault for decades from the pervasive, nonnative, invasive Signal Crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus), which not only outcompetes it for food and habitat but renders Shasta Crayfish females largely infertile through interbreeding. Found only in northeastern California, the Shasta Crayfish was listed as an endangered species by both the state and federal governments in 1988. … ” Read more from the Department of Fish and Wildlife here: Endangered Shasta Crayfish Have New Refuge in Rock Creek
Research cruise off California finds life lacking in parts of the ocean: “In parts of the California Current this summer, the ocean was clear, azure and almost empty. The high water clarity and low biological productivity were some of the defining features that struck scientists returning from a cruise with the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigation (CalCOFI) program, a 70-year study of West Coast waters. Although the lack of life sounds ominous, scientists said it’s neither good, nor bad, but an interesting observation that will add to their knowledge of the California Current. ... ” Read more from Phys Org here: Research cruise off California finds life lacking in parts of the ocean
Monarchs need your help: New guide explains how Central Valley farmers can bolster butterfly populations: “Over the past few decades, monarch populations across the United States have declined, and they need your help. The western population has especially hit a record low, decreasing 99 percent since the 1980s. From October to February, most monarch butterflies spend the winter along the California coast, and then migrate inland in the spring for breeding. California’s Central Valley is an important part of the western monarch’s range, both for breeding in the early spring and for supporting the butterflies as they move through the region during their migrations. … ” Read more from the US FWS here: Monarchs need your help: New guide explains how Central Valley farmers can bolster butterfly populations
Meet the Bay’s Incredible Swimming Worms: “Q: I think I saw a worm swimming in the Bay, what is it? A:It was mid August in 2015 when I first held one, its long thread like body rolling and pulsing in my hand. Tickled by the anticipation of a bite or sting my blood pumper was doing double time as sweat dripped off my nose and mixed with the salty summer Lake Merritt waters. The strange little bright orange organism I had scooped from the surface would be my first introduction to a seasonal occurrence in San Francisco Bay waters of a unique sexual reproductive strategy employed by some of our most overlooked bay dwellers: polychaetes. ... ” Read more from Bay Nature here: Meet the Bay’s Incredible Swimming Worms
A Partnership Forged by Fire: NASA Resources Aid a California Community Devastated by Wildfire: “On the night of October 8, 2017, gale-force winds in Northern California fanned at least 15 wildfires into infernos blazing throughout Sonoma and neighboring counties. … Schichtel knew that one of the first things the county would need for disaster response is maps of the damage, to help them target personnel and resources where they were most needed. But Ag + Open Space had neither time, resources nor personnel to survey the whole area on foot. Sonoma is rare among U.S. county governments in recognizing NASA as a possible source of detailed maps. … ” Read more from NASA here: A Partnership Forged by Fire
How the Pacific Ocean influences long-term drought in the Southwestern U.S.: “The Southwest has always faced periods of drought. Most recently, from late 2011 to 2017, California experienced years of lower-than-normal rainfall. El Niño is known to influence rain in the Southwest, but it’s not a perfect match. New research from the University of Washington and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution explores what conditions in the ocean and in the atmosphere prolong droughts in the Southwestern U.S. The answer is complex, according to a study published Aug. 6 in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. … ” Read more from the University of Washington here: How the Pacific Ocean influences long-term drought in the Southwestern U.S.
Fertilizer, Feast, and Famine: Solving the Global Nitrogen Problem: “Commercial organic and synthetic nitrogen fertilizer helps feed around half of the world’s population. While excessive fertilizer use poses environmental and public health risks, many developing nations lack access to it, leading to food insecurity, social unrest and economic hardship. A team of scientists, led by the University of California, Davis, has published a study that identifies five strategies to tackle the problem. These include applying fertilizers more precisely, getting nitrogen to where it’s needed most, removing nitrogen pollution from the environment, reducing food waste and empowering consumers to think about sustainable food options. … ” Read more from UC Davis here: Fertilizer Feast and Famine Solving the Global Nitrogen Problem
Climate change likely to increase human exposure to toxic methylmercury: “Add another item to the ever-growing list of the dangerous impacts of global climate change: Warming oceans are leading to an increase in the harmful neurotoxicant methylmercury in popular seafood, including cod, Atlantic bluefin tuna and swordfish, according to research led by the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH). Researchers developed a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive model that simulates how environmental factors, including increasing sea temperatures and overfishing, impact levels of methylmercury in fish. The researchers found that while the regulation of mercury emissions have successfully reduced methylmercury levels in fish, spiking temperatures are driving those levels back up and will play a major role in the methylmercury levels of marine life in the future. … ” Read more from Science Daily here: Climate change likely to increase human exposure to toxic methylmercury
Confronting the unpredictable: Meteorologists can’t forecast the weather more than 2-3 weeks in advance. And they never will. “The Sun will not start setting in the east. Niagara can’t begin flowing uphill. And the weather’s not going to become predictable more than a couple of weeks away. Even with the ideal computer model and nearly perfect observations, new research confirms what meteorologists have long thought: there’s a limit to how far in advance we can forecast the weather. “The atmosphere has a finite level of predictability,” said Falko Judt, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the author of a recent paper on the subject. “If we want to predict the day-to-day weather, then we’re stuck with two to three weeks.” … ” Read more from NCAR News here: Confronting the unpredictable: Meteorologists can’t forecast the weather more than 2-3 weeks in advance. And they never will.
US infrastructure unprepared for increasing frequency of extreme storms: “Current design standards for United States hydrologic infrastructure are unprepared for the increasing frequency and severity of extreme rainstorms, meaning structures like retention ponds and dams will face more frequent and severe flooding, according to a new study. Extreme weather events are on the rise, but U.S. water management systems use outdated design guidelines. New research, published in the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters, analyzed data from multiple regions throughout the U.S. and found the rising number of extreme storms combined with outdated building criteria could overwhelm hydrologic structures like stormwater systems. … ” Read more from Science Daily here: US infrastructure unprepared for increasing frequency of extreme storms
Researcher’s innovative flood mapping helps water and emergency management officials: “When Jude Kastens was developing a new floodplain mapping model more than a decade ago as part of his doctoral dissertation at the University of Kansas, he aimed to address a critical information gap that often hindered officials during major flooding events: the lack of real-time, wide-area predictions for floodwater extent and depth. Dependable, detailed inundation estimates are vital for emergency managers to have enough situational awareness to quickly get the right resources and information to flood-impacted communities. In 2007, severe flooding in southeastern Kansas put a spotlight on the lack of timely, reliable projections for floodwater spread. ... ” Read more from PhysOrg here: Researcher’s innovative flood mapping helps water and emergency management officials
Scientists reveal key insights into emerging water purification technology: “With water scarcity a critical challenge across the globe, scientists and engineers are pursuing new ways to harvest purified water from unconventional sources, like seawater or even wastewater. One of those researchers is Tiezheng Tong, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, whose lab is studying an emerging technology called membrane distillation. … ” Read more from Science Daily here: Scientists reveal key insights into emerging water purification technology
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