@USBR bug flows show promise in the #GrandCanyon #ColoradoRiver #COriver

Glen Canyon Dam

From the Associated Press (Felicia Fonseca) via The Salt Lake Tribune:

The bug flows are part of a larger plan approved in late 2016 to manage operations at Glen Canyon Dam, which holds back Lake Powell. The plan allows for high flows to push sand built up in Colorado River tributaries through the Grand Canyon as well as other experiments that could help native fish such as the endangered humpback chub and non-native trout.

Researchers are recommending three consecutive years of bug flows. Scott VanderKooi, who oversees the Geological Survey’s Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center in Flagstaff, said something about the weekend steady flows is encouraging bugs to emerge as adults from the water, which might lead to more eggs, more larvae and more adults. But, more study is needed.

Researchers also are hopeful rare insects such as stoneflies and mayflies will be more frequent around Lees Ferry, a prized rainbow trout fishery below Glen Canyon Dam.

The bug flows don’t change the amount of water the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation must deliver downstream through Lake Mead to Arizona, Nevada, California and Mexico. The lower levels on the weekend are offset by higher peak flows for hydropower during the week, the agency said.

Hydropower took a hit of about $165,000 — about half of what was expected — in the 2018 experiment, the Geological Survey said.

The agency recorded a sharp increase in the number of caddisflies through the Grand Canyon. Citizen scientists along the river set out plastic containers with a battery-powered black light for an hour each night and deliver the bugs they capture to Geological Survey scientists, about 1,000 samples per year.

In 2017, the light traps collected 91 caddisflies per hour on average, a figure that rose to 358 last year, outpacing the number of midges for the first time since the agency began tracking them in 2012, VanderKooi said.

The number of adult midges throughout the Grand Canyon rose by 34% on weekends versus weekdays during last year’s experiment. Intensive sampling one weekend in August showed an 865% increase in midges between Glen Canyon Dam and Lees Ferry, the agency said.

“For a scientist, this is really great,” VanderKooi said. “This is the culmination of a career’s worth of work to see this happen, to see from your hypothesis an indication that you’re correct.”

The Arizona Game and Fish Department also surveyed people who fished from a boat at Lees Ferry during the experiment to see if the bug flows made a difference. Fisheries biologist David Rogowski said anglers reported catching about 18% more fish.

He attributed that to the low, steady flows that allow lures to better reach gravel bars, rather than the increase in bugs.

@ColoradoClimate: Weekly #Climate, Water and #Drought Assessment of the Intermountain West

Click here to read the current assessment. Click here to go the NIDIS website hosted by the Colorado Climate Center.

@NOAA: Assessing the U.S. #Cimate in April 2019 — Coasts see warm April, nation largely drought-free

White beach at sunset with overcast sky. Photo credit: NOAA

Here’s the release from NOAA:

During April, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 52.9°F, 1.8°F above the 20th century average, ranking in the upper third of the 125-year record. The year-to-date (January–April) average contiguous U.S. temperature was 39.4°F, 0.3°F above average, ranking in the middle third of the 125-year period of record. This was the coldest start to a year since 2014 for the nation.

The April precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 3.17 inches, 0.65 inch above average, and ranked in the top 10 percent of the 125-year period of record. The year-to-date precipitation total was 11.24 inches, 1.76 inch above average, ranking seventh wettest.

This monthly summary from NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, business, academia and the public to support informed decision-making.

April Temperature

  • Much-above-average temperatures were observed across the Mid-Atlantic as well as coastal California. Delaware had its second warmest April on record while Maryland and New Jersey were third and fourth warmest on record, respectively.
  • Parts of the Deep South and northern Plains were cooler than average.
  • The Alaska average April temperature was 28.4°F, 5.1°F above the long-term mean. This was the 10th warmest April on record for the state. Kotzebue had its warmest April on record. Along the state’s west coast, the Bering Sea ice extent ranked second lowest behind 2018.
  • April Precipitation

  • During April, much-below-normal dryness was observed across parts of the central Plains.
  • Above-average wetness occurred across much of the Northwest, the South, parts of the upper Mississippi Valley and Great Lakes as well as portions of the Southeast and New England.
  • Oregon ranked third wettest for April while Idaho and Vermont both ranked sixth wettest.
  • A significant snow event, which occurred from the 9th to the 12th, brought blizzard conditions to parts of the northern Plains and ranked as Category 3 on the Regional Snowfall Index scale. This is the highest rank for a snow event in the Northern Rockies and Plains region since October 2013. Watertown, S.D., reported 25 inches of snow, which is the city’s largest 3-day snow total on record.
  • According to NOAA data, analyzed by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the contiguous U.S. snow cover extent during April was 302,700 square miles, 21,000 square miles above the 1981–2010 average. This was the 22nd largest April snow cover extent on record for the Lower 48 since satellite records began 53 years ago. Above-average snow cover was observed across the northern Plains, Great Lakes and into New England, with below-average snow cover across the central High Plains and parts of the West.
  • According to the April 30 U.S. Drought Monitor report, approximately two percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, down from six percent at the beginning of April. This is the second smallest drought footprint on record. Drought conditions improved across Oregon, New Mexico and Texas and expanded across Hawaii and Puerto Rico
  • Year-to-date (January–April) Temperature

    Much-above- to above-average temperatures were observed across much of the Southeast, Ohio Valley, and Mid-Atlantic states. Florida had its sixth warmest year-to-date period while Georgia experienced its ninth warmest such period.

    Much-below- to below-average temperatures were present across the northern Plains and Great Lakes with South Dakota ranking 11th coldest January–April on record.

    The Alaska January–April temperature was 19.4°F, 9.1°F above the long-term average, ranking second warmest on record for the state. Only 2016 was warmer. Much of the North Slope, northern West Coast, northern Northeast Interior, and eastern Aleutian regions were record warm, while near-average conditions were observed across the Panhandle. Utqiaġvik (Barrow) had its warmest January–April on record, surpassing the previous record set in 2018 by 0.9°F.

    Year-to-date (January–April) Precipitation

  • Below-average precipitation for the year-to-date period was observed across parts of Washington state, Georgia and South Carolina.
  • Much-above- to above-average precipitation dominated much of the West, the Mississippi and Ohio Valleys, Great Lakes and parts of New England. Tennessee was second wettest while Nevada and Utah ranked fourth wettest for this year-to-date period.
  • “Insects are ‘the glue in nature”, says Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson, “underpinning the food and water we rely on” — The Guardian #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

    From The Guardian (Damian Carrington):

    Humanity must save insects, if not for their sake, then for ourselves, a leading entomologist has warned.

    “Insects are the glue in nature and there is no doubt that both the [numbers] and diversity of insects are declining,” said Prof Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson, at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. “At some stage the whole fabric unravels and then we will really see the consequences.”

    On Monday, the largest ever assessment of the health of nature was published and warned starkly that the annihilation of wildlife is eroding the foundations of human civilisation. The IPBES report said: “Insect abundance has declined very rapidly in some places … but the global extent of such declines is not known.” It said the available evidence supports a “tentative” estimate that 10% of the 5.5m species of insect thought to exist are threatened with extinction.

    The food and water humanity relies upon are underpinned by insects but Sverdrup-Thygeson’s new book, Extraordinary Insects, spends many of its pages on how wonderful and weird insects are. “The first stage is to get people to appreciate these little creatures,” said Sverdrup-Thygeson.

    Many appear to defy the normal rules of life. Some fruit flies can be beheaded and live normally for several days more, thanks to mini-brains in each joint. Then there are the carpet beetles that can effectively reverse time, by reverting to younger stages of development when food is scarce.

    Others are bizarrely constructed. Some butterflies have ears in their mouths, one has an eye on its penis, while houseflies taste with their feet. Insect reproduction is also exotic. The southern green shield bug can maintain sex for 10 days, while another type of fruit fly produces sperm that are 20 times longer than its own body.

    Some aphids, which can reproduce without sex, produce babies that already themselves contain babies, effectively giving birth to their children and grandchildren simultaneously. There are also a lot of insects – more than a billion, billion individuals alive today. “If you shared them out, there would be 200m insects for each human,” said Sverdrup-Thygeson.

    But for all their abundance, insects are in trouble. “Global data suggests that while we humans have doubled our population in the past 40 years, the number of insects has been reduced by almost half – these are dramatic figures,” she said.

    Some researchers warned in February that falling insect populations threaten a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, while recent studies from Germany and Puerto Rico have revealed plunging numbers over the last 25 to 35 years.

    “There are lots of details to fill in, but I have read pretty much every study in English and I haven’t seen a single one where entomologists don’t believe the main message that a lot of insect species are definitely declining,” said Sverdrup-Thygeson. The destruction of natural environments to create farmland is the key cause, she said. “When you throw all the pesticides and climate change on top of that, it is not very cool to be an insect today.

    2019-2020 Colorado Water Center Grantees — @COWaterCenter

    Here’s the notice from the Colorado Water Center:

    The Center has awarded funding to three research teams, two faculty fellows, and two education and engagement projects for 2019-20. These projects catalyze water research, education, and engagement through interdisciplinary collaboration and creative scholarship among CSU faculty and students. Congratulations to the awardees!

    Water Research Teams

    Harnessing the power of the crowd to monitor urban street flooding

    This research team will use community monitoring of urban street flooding in order to generate greater temporal and spatial coverage of flood-related data than would be possible with installed sensors. This data will allow for analyses of the factors that lead to street flooding. This pilot project will also provide a foundation for integrating social media with Flood Tracker.

    Team Investigators:

  • Aditi Bhaskar, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Greg Newman, Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory
  • Stephanie Kampf, Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability
  • Sam Zipper, University of Victoria, Kansas Geological Survey
  • Hydrologic drivers of peatland development and carbon accumulation in western Washington

    This research team will investigate how peatlands respond to changes in precipitation and temperature over time. Despite peatlands’ significant role in global carbon storage, uncertainties remain in how these systems respond to hydrologic alterations from changing climate and land use. This research will inform regional wetland management and has far reaching implications for more northern peatlands.

    Team Investigators:

  • John Hribljan, Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship
  • Jeremy Shaw, Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship
  • David Cooper, Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship
  • Jason Sibold, Department of Anthropology
  • Joe Rocchio, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Program
  • Julie Loisel, Texas A&M University, Department of Geography
  • The current and future state of water resources for the Colorado Rocky Mountains

    This research team will use high-resolution modeling to investigate how predicted changes in climate will modify the snowpack and hydrology of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. This work will produce a better understanding of future snow dynamics given its complex interactions with the atmosphere, land cover, and terrain, and will inform management of the ecological resources of Rocky Mountain National Park and surrounding areas.

    Team Investigators:

  • Kristen Rasmussen, Department of Atmospheric Science
  • Steven Fassnacht, Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability
  • Daniel McGrath, Department of Geosciences
  • Graham Sexstone, U.S. Geological Survey, Colorado Water Science Center
  • Water Faculty Fellows

    Yoichiro Kanno, Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology

    Assessing gene flow of invasive brook trout to restore a meta-population of threatened greenback cutthroat trout in the upper Poudre River basin

    Dr. Kanno will provide scientific support for a significant greenback cutthroat trout restoration in the upper Cache la Poudre basin. Spatial population structure and movement of this species in the upper basin are poorly understood, and this research will quantify trout movement, identify habitat features that impact gene flow, and determine whether altered flows in the river’s mainstem may hamper fish movement or isolate tributary populations.

    Michael Ronayne, Department of Geosciences

    Numerical modeling of evolving recharge-discharge sources in a multi-aquifer system

    Dr. Ronayne will study the hydrogeologic processes that control time-varying recharge within complex multi-aquifer systems. This research will examine how geologic heterogeneity impacts the alluvial-bedrock groundwater exchange, the conditions that give rise to unsaturated zones between the alluvium and bedrock, and the causes of aquifer “disconnect.”

    Water Education & Engagement Projects

    Steven Fassnacht, Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability

    Kids Poetry on Water – Creating K-12 curriculum integrating water science and poetry

    This project aims to help high school students and K-12 educators better understand the coupling of humanities and the environment—specifically ecology, climate, and hydrology. By creating an interdisciplinary curriculum that encourages students to think about water, write poetry, and broaden their perspectives, Drs. Fassnacht and Carlyon hope to inspire students to study water and environmental sciences at the college level.

    Amy Kremen, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences

    Development and launch of a “Master Irrigator” education and training program in Northeastern Colorado

    This project will develop curriculum to encourage water-use efficiency and water conservation in the Northern High Plains. It will provide an engaging, intensive professional development/educational opportunity for producers and crop consultants and help push the region towards fulfilling its water conservation goals. These efforts will complement state and local policy efforts around declining water quantity and quality.

    Trains at 14th St and South Platte River June 19, 1965. Photo via Westword.com