SCIENCE NEWS: New study identifies mountain snowpack most “at-risk” from climate change; Counting the dead to account for the living; Improving fish passage on the Calaveras River; and more …

New study identifies mountain snowpack most “at-risk” from climate change

As the planet warms, scientists expect that mountain snowpack should melt progressively earlier in the year. However, observations in the U.S. show that as temperatures have risen, snowpack melt is relatively unaffected in some regions while others can experience snowpack melt a month earlier in the year.  This discrepancy in the timing of snowpack disappearance—the date in the spring when all the winter snow has melted—is the focus of new research by scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego. … ”  Read more from Scripps Oceanography here: New study identifies mountain snowpack most “at-risk” from climate change

Low-level thinning can help restore redwood forests without affecting stream temperatures

Selectively cutting trees in riparian zones to aid forest restoration can be done without adversely affecting streams’ water temperature as long as the thinning isn’t too intensive, new research by Oregon State University shows.  Published in PLOS One, the study led by OSU College of Agricultural Sciences graduate student David Roon is one of the few to quantify restorative thinning’s effects on forest streams.  “We don’t know much about what happens with the more subtle changes in shade and light that come with thinning,” Roon said. “Most of the research so far has looked at the effects of clearcutting with no stream-side buffer at all, or harvests outside of an untouched buffer area. And regulatory requirements tend to look at single descriptors of stream temperature – the warmest it gets in the middle of summer, for example – and those descriptors possibly don’t do a thorough job of explaining thermal influences on ecological processes.” ... ”  Read more from Oregon State University here: Low-level thinning can help restore redwood forests without affecting stream temperatures

Counting the dead to account for the living: A summer survey of winter-run

The feel of the wind in your face, the sound of a boat motor roaring down a river, the spray of water, the warm sun on your back and the smell of rotting flesh. This is what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists on the Sacramento River experience when conducting winter-run Chinook salmon carcass surveys.  “The carcass survey is a cooperative effort between the Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission,” said Kevin Niemela, a Service supervisory fish biologist located at the Red Bluff Fish and Wildlife Office. “Typically, two boats are used to survey the river daily, one operated by the Service and the other operated by PSMFC working under contract through the Department. Each boat travels upstream and searches for carcasses, covering opposite shorelines.” ... ”  Read more from the US FWS here: Counting the dead to account for the living

Improving fish passage on the Calaveras River

The Calaveras River in California’s Central Valley was once a river of extremes that flooded regularly. Over the last several decades, however, it has been transformed into a complex water conveyance system used to deliver water for agricultural, municipal, and residential uses. Modifications made to divert water from portions of the river can prevent migratory trout and salmon from passing to spawning grounds upstream. Addressing this issue is part of a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) recently developed for the Calaveras River, in which the Stockton East Water District has committed to improving fish passage conditions at several instream structures and portions of the lower river. These include road crossings, flashboard dams, the Bellota Weir and Diversion Facility, the Old Calaveras River channel, and private diversions. ... ”  Read more from FishBio here:  Improving fish passage on the Calaveras River

The return of red-legged frogs

“It was serendipitous,” said Clark Winchell from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about a recent collaborative endeavor to bring California red-legged frogs back to their natural habitat in Southern California after they were extirpated decades ago.  The effort to return the frogs to Southern California, which had been ongoing by Robert Fisher from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative Program for more than 20 years, began to move the needle in San Diego County when Winchell started working with private ranchers Judy and Chuck Wheatley who had just restored a pond on their property for the reintroduction of the Western pond turtle.  “Why not add red-legged frogs also,” said Fisher to Winchell who he has known for more than 20 years. ... ”  Read more from the US FWS here:  The return of red-legged frogs

The Dungeness crab fishery: coping with climate change

Droughts, floods, and heatwaves are all examples of “climate shocks,” or natural disasters linked to climate change, that have been becoming more apparent. Even the ocean experiences climate shocks in the form of heatwaves traveling throughout marine ecosystems, like the one dubbed “The Blob” in the North Pacific. These climate shocks, which are predicted to increase, can threaten food systems and disrupt fishing communities that depend on ocean resources. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Fisher et al. 2021) analyzed the way West Coast fisheries have adapted to the negative effects of a climate shock in 2015-2016 that closed the Dungeness crab fishery. A marine heatwave caused a harmful algal bloom that contaminated crabs with biotoxins and made them dangerous to eat. The study found that fishing communities made significant changes to their fishing practices to mediate the effects of the climate shock, with those most dependent on the Dungeness crab fishery being the most affected. … ”  Read more from FishBio here: The Dungeness crab fishery: coping with climate change

Atmospheric drying will lead to lower crop yields, shorter trees across the globe

Global atmospheric drying — known by scientists as a rise in vapor pressure deficit — has been observed worldwide since the early 2000s. In recent years, this concerning phenomenon has been on the rise, and is predicted to amplify even more in the coming decades as climate change intensifies.  In a new paper published in the journal Global Change Biology, research from the University of Minnesota and Western University in Ontario, Canada, outlines global atmospheric drying significantly reduces productivity of both crops and non-crop plants, even under well-watered conditions. The new findings were established on a large-scale analysis covering 50 years of research and 112 plant species. ... ”  Read more from the University of Minnesota here: Atmospheric drying will lead to lower crop yields, shorter trees across the globe

Computing clean water

Water is perhaps Earth’s most critical natural resource. Given increasing demand and increasingly stretched water resources, scientists are pursuing more innovative ways to use and reuse existing water, as well as to design new materials to improve water purification methods. Synthetically created semi-permeable polymer membranes used for contaminant solute removal can provide a level of advanced treatment and improve the energy efficiency of treating water; however, existing knowledge gaps are limiting transformative advances in membrane technology. One basic problem is learning how the affinity, or the attraction, between solutes and membrane surfaces impacts many aspects of the water purification process. … ” Read more from UC Santa Barbara here: Computing clean water

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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