SCIENCE NEWS: 2019 was 2nd hottest year on record for Earth say NOAA, NASA; Marine heatwave known as ‘the blob’ killed a million US seabirds; Modeling the fall-run chinook salmon lifecycle; Response to fire impacts water levels 40 years into future; and more …

Gymnosperm Stem: Three Year Pinus: Photo by Berkshire Community College

In science news this week: 2019 was 2nd hottest year on record for Earth say NOAA, NASA; Pacific Ocean marine heatwave known as ‘the blob’ killed a million US seabirds; Stream to sea and back again: Modeling the fall-run chinook salmon lifecycle; eDNA expands species surveys to capture a more complete picture; Helping land managers take risk-analysis approach to new wildfire reality; Response to fire impacts water levels 40 years into future; Water governance: Could less sometimes be more?; Can we predict earthquakes at all?; and more …

2019 was 2nd hottest year on record for Earth say NOAA, NASA:  “The world’s five warmest years have all occurred since 2015 with nine of the 10 warmest years occurring since 2005, according to scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).   It was also the 43rd consecutive year with global land and ocean temperatures, at least nominally, above average.   The average temperature across the globe in 2019 was 1.71 degrees F (0.95 of a degree C) above the 20th-century average and just 0.07 of a degree F (0.04 of a degree C) cooler than the 2016 record. … ”  Read more from NOAA here: 2019 was 2nd hottest year on record for Earth say NOAA, NASA

Pacific Ocean marine heatwave known as ‘the blob’ killed a million US seabirds:  “A million seabirds that died along the US west coast were probably the victims of an unprecedented marine heatwave in the Pacific. Such events are expected to become more frequent due to climate change.  About 62,000 common murres (Uria aalge) washed ashore from summer 2015 to spring 2016 between Alaska and California, most having apparently starved. Researchers extrapolate that this means around a million died in total.  “The amazing question is, how could a million die over 6000 kilometres, pretty much all at the same time, and what could cause it,” says John Piatt at the US Geological Survey. ... ”  Read more from Phys Org here: Marine heatwave known as ‘the blob’ killed a million US seabirds

Bird species are facing extinction hundreds of times faster than previously thought:  “Extinction, or the disappearance of an entire species, is commonplace. Species have been forming, persisting and then shuffling off their mortal coil since life began on Earth. However, evidence suggests the number of species going extinct, and the rate at which they disappear, is increasing dramatically.  Our recent work suggests that the rate at which are going extinct may be many times higher than previously estimated —at least for birds. The good news, however, is that recent conservation efforts. ... ” Read more from PhysOrg here: Bird species are facing extinction hundreds of times faster than previously thought

Stream to sea and back again: Modeling the fall-run chinook salmon lifecycle:  “For salmon, starting life in freshwater is a useful trait for getting a head start on growth before striking out to the ocean, where bigger fish tend to have better odds of survival. But this complex, multi-habitat life cycle comes at a cost. Both ocean and freshwater environments are becoming more unpredictable, and the fish that travel between them face risks that compound across each of their life stages. Changes in both river and ocean environments have the potential to reduce salmon abundance, which makes it difficult for scientists to determine which factors have driven the precipitous declines of populations like Central Valley fall-run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). To parse this messy situation, biologists can gain insights from life-cycle models. … ”  Read more from FishBio here: Stream to sea and back again: Modeling the fall-run chinook salmon lifecycle

eDNA expands species surveys to capture a more complete picture:  “Tiny bits of DNA collected from waters off the West Coast allowed scientists to identify more species of marine vertebrates than traditional surveys with trawl nets. They also reflect environmental shifts such as unusual ocean temperatures that affect the organisms present, new research shows.  The findings published  in Frontiers in Marine Science demonstrate that environmental DNA, or eDNA, can add valuable detail to longstanding marine surveys. They revealed the presence of important species that usually evade trawl nets such as great white sharks and salmon. Ongoing collection of eDNA can also help detect environmental changes when marine life shifts habitat with changes in the ocean, the study found. … ”  Read more from NOAA here: eDNA expands species surveys to capture a more complete picture

Helping land managers take risk-analysis approach to new wildfire reality:  “New digital tools developed by Oregon State University will enable land managers to better adapt to the new reality of large wildfires through analytics that guide planning and suppression across jurisdictional boundaries that fires typically don’t adhere to.  Led by Chris Dunn, a research associate in the OSU College of Forestry with several years of firefighting experience, scientists have used machine learning algorithms and risk-analysis science to analyze the many factors involved in handling fires: land management objectives, firefighting decisions, fire mitigation opportunities and the needs of communities, the environment and the fire management system.  Their findings were published in Environmental Research Letters. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here: Helping land managers take risk-analysis approach to new wildfire reality

Response to fire impacts water levels 40 years into future:  “Salvage logging and re-seeding a forest after a wildfire helps reduce flooding and returns water levels to normal faster, according to a new paper from a Washington State University researcher.  The paper, just published in the journal Hydrological Processes, shows that water levels are still increased up to 40 years after a fire. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here: Response to fire impacts water levels 40 years into future

Long shaped by fire, Australia enters a perilous new era:  “Australia is sometimes called “the fire continent” because the ecology of the world’s driest inhabited land has been shaped by repeated burning. But even the fire continent has never seen anything like the recent conflagrations.  Bush fires have been raging in the southeastern states of New South Wales and Victoria for four months now. More than 38,000 square miles, an area the size of South Carolina, have burned. At least 28 people have died and some 2,000 houses in rural towns have been destroyed. ... ”  Read more from Yale E360 here: Long shaped by fire, Australia enters a perilous new era

Toward a smarter way of recharging the aquifer:  “To replenish groundwater, many municipalities inject reclaimed water into depleted aquifers. The injected water has been purified by secondary wastewater treatment, and, in some cases, the water has been treated through tertiary processes and can be clean enough to drink directly.  The original water in the aquifer was chemically stable, in equilibrium with the surrounding rocks, and was slowly recharged by natural processes (water infiltration). However, when more groundwater is consumed than the natural processes can restore, engineered recharging with purified, reclaimed water is needed. Unfortunately, over time, the reclaimed water sometimes becomes contaminated. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here: Toward a smarter way of recharging the aquifer

Water governance: Could less sometimes be more?  “The use of environmental resources has been regulated for centuries with the aim of improving the management and behaviour of private and public actors on an on-going basis. But, does the never-ending introduction of new regulations really have a positive effect? Or, does a surfeit of rules cause malfunctions and lead to disturbing overlaps? In an attempt to answer these questions, researchers from the Universities of Geneva (UNIGE) and Lausanne (UNIL), Switzerland, analysed water governance regulations in six European countries from 1750 to 2006. Their results, published in the journal Ecological Economics, show that rules designed to improve resource management eventually come into conflict in the long run, creating an equal number of positive and negative effects until the system falls apart. At this point, the only way out is for the state to overhaul governance. ... ”  Read more from Science Daily here: Water governance: Could less sometimes be more?

Can we predict earthquakes at all?  “My hometown of Los Angeles is home to the earliest reported earthquake dating back to 1769 (and, of course, many more since then). The largest recorded earthquake in the world occurred in Chile in May of 1960 measuring at a magnitude of 9.5 moment magnitudes. A single earthquake can cause destruction costing hundreds of millions of dollars to repair and, far more importantly, can end in fatalities. In 2009, scientists in Italy were convicted of manslaughter for failing to predict the L’Aquila earthquake that killed more than 300 people. But how successful can we expect our quake predictions to be? ... ”  Read more from Scientific American here: Can we predict earthquakes at all?

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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