Despite what you might think, I am not a bird.

SCIENCE NEWS: Scientists say expect more rainfall variability for California; Global methane emissions soaring, but how much was due to wetlands?; The ups and downs of tides; and more …

Scientists say expect more rainfall variability for California

California’s winter precipitation is expected to become 50% more variable by century’s end, based on a Berkeley Lab-led study of the impact of future greenhouse gas emissions on the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), a rainfall pattern that covers a quarter of the globe.  When active, the MJO influences whether precipitation occurs for 30 to 60 days, and is already known to affect North America’s weather when it moves eastward from the Indian Ocean (sometimes driving, for example, the Pineapple Express, which brings heavy rainfall to the Pacific coast). To see how much global emissions increase would influence the MJO, Berkeley Lab faculty scientist Da Yang and postdoctoral fellow Wenyu Zhou, and colleagues at UC San Diego and Nanjing University used the 10 computer models that best capture MJO behavior to study the emissions’ impact on it. … ”  Read more from the Berkeley Lab here:  Scientists say: expect more rainfall variability for California

Forest growth in drier climates will be impacted by reduced snowpack, Portland State University study finds

A new study suggests that future reductions in seasonal snowpack as a result of climate change may negatively influence forest growth in semi-arid climates, but less so in wetter climates.  Researchers from Portland State University, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Forest Service and the universities of Vermont and Maine found that forest density and snowpack can influence drought stress and forest growth in ways that are important to recognize for managing forests in a changing climate. … ”  Read more from Portland State University here:  Forest growth in drier climates will be impacted by reduced snowpack, Portland State University study finds

Predicting drought in the American West just got much more difficult

People hoping to get a handle on future droughts in the American West are in for a disappointment, as new USC-led research spanning centuries shows El Niño cycles are an unreliable predictor.  Instead, they found that Earth’s dynamic atmosphere is a wild card that plays a much bigger role than sea surface temperatures, yet defies predictability, in the wet and dry cycles that whipsaw the western states. The study, published today in Science Advances, is a detailed assessment of long-term drought variability. … ”  Read more from the University of Southern California here: Predicting drought in the American West just got much more difficult

Global methane emissions soaring, but how much was due to wetlands?

Last month, an international team of scientists, including Berkeley Lab’s William Riley and Qing Zhu, published an update on the global methane budget as part of the Global Carbon Project. They estimated annual global methane emissions at nearly 570 million tons for the 2008 to 2017 decade, which is 5% higher than emissions recorded for the early 2000s and the equivalent of 189 million more cars on the world’s roads.  Anthropogenic sources like agriculture, waste, and fossil fuels contributed to 60% of these emissions, while wetlands made up for the largest natural source of methane. Riley, a Berkeley Lab senior scientist, focuses on modelling how terrestrial ecosystems – such as wetlands – interact with climate. Working with Zhu, they built one of the computer models that allows scientists to quantify these methane emissions from wetlands at global scale. … ”  Read more from Berkeley Lab here:  Global methane emissions soaring, but how much was due to wetlands?

The ups and downs of tides

Although the motion of the tides on Earth is generated by the Sun and the Moon, the size of tides and other characteristics are largely shaped by non-astronomical processes. A recent article published in Reviews of Geophysics describes what drives various tidal properties on different scales; it also explores how tides have changed over recent centuries and may alter in future. Here, the some of the authors give an overview of the non-astronomical processes that influence tides and how these are changing. … ”  Read more from EOS here: The ups and downs of tides

Jagger’s Law & Turn Taking Optimization

When water is limiting and the world is getting warmer and prone to more extremes, human communities, agricultural users and ecosystems all need to do more with less. Because of competing needs (what’s good for you is sometimes bad for me), there is no single way to satisfy everyone and trade-offs must always be made. Turn Taking Optimization (TTO) creates a smarter way to meet multiple objectives and is based on the idea that species do not need to do well every year, but can “take turns” having their needs met.  Using a cloud-based computing framework, TTO has been applied to the Sacramento River and Delta, combining existing simulation and optimization tools for water allocation and management with the Ecological Flows Tool (EFT),  creating a flexible multi-objective optimization system that takes turns searching for water allocation solutions that meet the needs of 15 representative species and 31 indicators. … ”  Read more from ESSA here:  Jagger’s Law & Turn Taking Optimization

Age and growth homework: determining how old fish are

Sometimes it’s a good thing to “take your work home with you.” A team of scientists at NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center is demonstrating that it is possible to accomplish a lot while teleworking. Their job is to study and estimate fish age, growth, and reproduction for a number of commercially important fish species from the Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska and Aleutian Islands.  “One of our most important jobs at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center is estimating fish abundance and population trends (whether abundance is increasing or decreasing). A key piece of information used to generate that estimate is age data,” said Tom Helser, manager, Age and Growth Program. “Teleworking really hasn’t hindered staff productivity at all. They have aged nearly as many fish as they usually do in the laboratory, and they have found creative ways to do it.” … ”  Read more from NOAA here:  Age and growth homework: determining how old fish are

They were trying to save a species. Instead, scientists created a fish that’s part sturgeon, part paddlefish, all accident

A group of Hungarian aquatic scientists was looking for ways to save the fish responsible for some of the world’s finest caviar from extinction.  Instead, they made a Frankenfish.  But their accidental hybrid, a fish that’s part American paddlefish and part Russian sturgeon, could benefit fish farming and the industry’s carbon footprint. And on their own, the fish are a marvel of biology.  Though they haven’t been formally named yet, fellow fishery researchers have given them the moniker “sturddlefish.” … ”  Read more from CNN here: They were trying to save a species. Instead, scientists created a fish that’s part sturgeon, part paddlefish, all accident

Featured image credit: Hematite minerals on silicon substrate, which looks like a bird with fragrant flowers. Image courtesy of Pacific Northwest National Labs.

Maven’s XKCD Comic Pick of the Week …

 

 


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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