Sand bank, Bahama Islands; Photo by NASA Earth Observatory

SCIENCE NEWS: Butano Creek restoration, Forest thinning and snowpack, Survey of California’s bees, El Niño impacts on SoCal estuaries, microplastics, and more …

Butano Creek restoration reopens habitat for salmon in California:  “For decades, sediment buildup in California’s Butano Creek caused an array of issues for both fish and people. It flooded roads and local communities, prevented steelhead and coho salmon from migrating, and contributed to substantial die-offs of fish. In October 2019, the NOAA Restoration Center and partners finished a $7 million effort to remove the sediment and restore the creek.   Butano Creek is a major tributary of Pescadero Creek. It winds through San Mateo County in central California, from its headwaters in the Santa Cruz Mountains to its mouth in Pescadero Creek Marsh. Decades of agriculture, logging and other human activities caused a huge increase in the amount of sediment entering the waterway. As sediment built up over time, it resulted in what was essentially  a mile-long dam, clogging the flow of water and blocking the migration of fish. … ”  Read more from NOAA here: Butano Creek restoration reopens habitat for salmon in California

Better than expected: the 2019 salmon season:  “It’s time for our yearly review of the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) Review of Ocean Salmon Fisheries – and this year has a surprisingly positive twist. Each year, the PFMC publishes a report on the previous year’s salmon fisheries along the West Coast. The report details harvest totals and socioeconomic benefits for the California ocean salmon fishery, as well as escapement totals, or the number of salmon that “escaped” the fishery and returned to the Central Valley. The report also provides an opportunity to compare these numbers with the preseason prediction that was used to set harvest regulations for that year. Inaccurate preseason predictions can have severe consequences: an underestimation can impose unnecessary restrictions on the commercial fishery, while an overestimation can lead to reduced escapement and low numbers of fish available for in-river recreational fishing. … ”  Read more from FishBio here:  Better than expected: the 2019 salmon season

Prediction tool shows how forest thinning may increase snowpack:  “The Sierra Nevada forest is an important resource for the surrounding communities in Nevada and California.  Thinning the forest by removing trees by hand or using heavy machinery is one of the few tools available to manage forests. However, finding the best way to thin forests by removing select trees to maximize the forest’s benefits for water quantity, water quality, wildfire risk and wildlife habitat remains a challenge for resource managers.  The U.S. Forest Service is leading an effort to balance all these challenges in landscape-scale forest restoration planning as part of the Lake Tahoe West Restoration Partnership. As part of this effort, University of Nevada, Reno’s Adrian Harpold recently led a team in developing a modeling tool to focus on the issue of water quantity. … ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune here: Prediction tool shows how forest thinning may increase snowpack

First survey of California’s bees in 50 years will look for effects of habitat destruction:  “When you think of California in the 1970s, maybe you think of hippies, Fleetwood Mac or skateboards. But if you’re an entomologist, you might think of all the natural spaces that have since been devoured by urbanization and wonder what happened to the native bees that lived in them.  The question isn’t one of mere nostalgia or curiosity. Insect populations around the world are plunging precipitously, and scientists are scrambling to understand why. The threat to pollinating insects is particularly dire because much of the food people eat depends on them. ... ”  Read more from Phys Org here: First survey of California’s bees in 50 years will look for effects of habitat destruction

MPA update: monitoring iconic kelp forests:  “Some of California’s most important forests don’t have trees. Up and down the West Coast, kelp—a large, plant-like brown algae—supports marine life and local economies.  “It’s really quite an iconic ecosystem,” says Mark Carr, a kelp forest ecologist from UC Santa Cruz. With a growth rate of up to a foot and a half per day, kelp beds are a particularly productive—or fast-growing—ecosystem. “That productivity supports a huge number of species,” says Carr. Otters, seals, shorebirds, and even whales benefit. (Meet some of the species that call California kelp forests home in the video to the right by UC Santa Barbara researcher Katie Davis Koehn, Channel Islands, California.) ... ”  Read more from California SeaGrant here: MPA update: monitoring iconic kelp forests

El Niño impacts on southern California estuaries reveal potential for more frequent closures:  “Some Southern California estuaries may be more vulnerable than others to larger waves and higher water levels associated with El Niño events and climate change, according to a recent study by researchers at the Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego.  Southern California estuaries usually don’t receive substantial river flows and depend heavily on tides for water circulation. This, combined with migrating sand at the estuary mouth, means that they can be vulnerable to closure–leading to impacts such as increased water levels and flooding of nearby infrastructure, poor water quality and dramatic drops in dissolved oxygen levels which negatively impact species that live in the estuary. … ”  Read more from Sea Grant here:  El Niño impacts on southern California estuaries reveal potential for more frequent closures

Microplastics are everywhere, study finds:  “Microplastics are everywhere—including in our drinking water, table salt and in the air that we breathe. Having studied the scope of microplastics in a number of countries, researchers are worried.  “Given the lifetime inevitable exposure to microplastics, we urgently call for a better understanding of the potential hazards of microplastics to human health,” says Dr. Elvis Genbo Xu, an Assistant Professor of environmental toxicology at the University of Southern Denmark.  There are many studies on microplastics, especially concerning the oceans, but in this study Elvis Genbo Xu and his colleagues, Professor Huanghong Shi from East China Normal University and Professor Eddy Zeng from Jinan University in China, chose to focus on microplastics in table salt, drinking water and air. … ”  Read more from Phys Org here: Microplastics are everywhere, study finds

Double-whammy weather:  “Like an undulating seesaw, weather in some regions swings from drought to heavy rain under the weight of climate-induced changes, a new study finds. The analysis, published in Geophysical Research Letters, finds a link between droughts followed by heavy rain events, along with an increased rate of these successive extreme weather occurrences. The research could inform more effective climate adaptation planning and policies by identifying where these swings are likely to exacerbate conditions, especially for vulnerable populations and ecosystems. Australia’s recent swing from massive drought-driven wildfires to landslide-causing heavy rains is a prime example. … ”  Read more from Stanford’s Water in the West here: Double-whammy weather

Climate-related extreme events can, but do not consistently, motivate change for water managers:  “Extreme events like drought can create a window of opportunity for policy change, but they do not always seem to drive organizations toward adaptation. With communities across the Western U.S. facing increasing drought risks, new research, led by the Western Water Assessment (a CPO RISA team) and funded by the Sectoral Applications Research Program’s (SARP) Coping with Drought initiative in partnership with the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), studied how water managers responded in the wake of two significant Western Colorado droughts in 2002 and 2012 to better understand what motivates adaptive change.  ... ”  Read more from NOAA here: Climate-related extreme events can, but do not consistently, motivate change for water managers

New study could help better predict rainfall during El Nino:  “Researchers at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science have uncovered a new connection between tropical weather events and U.S. rainfall during El Niño years. The results can help explain why California received significantly less rainfall than predicted during the 2015 El Niño event while massive flooding occurred in the Mississippi River basin.  UM Rosenstiel School graduate student Marybeth Arcodia analyzed 39-years of weather data from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction-National Center for Atmospheric Research Reanalysis Project to understand how the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), a phenomenon of sub-seasonal atmospheric variability in the tropical Indo-Pacific Oceans, leads to pressure and rainfall anomalies over the North Pacific and North America. … ”  Read more from Phys Org here:  New study could help better predict rainfall during El Nino

New approach to hydrological modelling applicable to every river basin in the world:  “Water managers are continuously making decisions to guarantee water safety. These decisions relate to the short term, for example ongoing droughts or, precisely, when there is a risk of flooding. But they can also affect the long term given the more extreme events caused by climate change. All these decisions have one thing in common: they are often grounded on results from hydrological models. ... ”  Read more from Smart Water Magazine here:  New approach to hydrological modelling applicable to every river basin in the world

Climate models got hotter. Why they might be overshooting:  “One of the world’s biggest efforts to study climate change is underway — and it’s happening behind the screens of powerful computers.  Research teams around the world are working to develop the next generation of climate models. Known as the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, or CMIP, it’s a coordinated, international effort to create suites of ever-more-advanced models for use in climate research. There’s a new effort every few years or so, typically timed around an upcoming report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  The latest generation of models — CMIP6 — is in progress right now. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here: Climate models got hotter. Why they might be overshooting

Featured image credit: Great Bahama Bank, photo by NASA’s Earth Observatory

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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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