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South Dakota Scientists Help Restore Water in Armenia: Summary: South Dakota-based scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey are helping to restore a depleted aquifer and build in-country expertise for managing groundwater in the Ararat Basin of Armenia.  --- World-Class Science Starts Locally Contact Information: Mark Anderson ( Phone: 605-394-3220 ); Marisa Lubeck ( Phone: 303-526-6694 ); --- South Dakota-based scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey are helping to restore a depleted aquifer and build in-country expertise for managing groundwater in the Ararat Basin of Armenia.  The growth of aquaculture to raise trout, sturgeon and other cold-water fish has increased withdrawals of critical groundwater in the Ararat Basin over the last 10 to 15 years. Some wells in the basin have stopped flowing and others have diminished flow in many places. The USGS is working with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Armenia and others to develop scientific tools for water-resource managers to understand and predict consequences of management decisions in Armenia.  “The severity of aquifer depletion in the Ararat Basin is disturbing,” said Mark Anderson, the director of the USGS South Dakota Water Science Center. “Our goal for this project is to assist Armenia in the restoration of the aquifer and the move towards more sustainable water uses.”  The consequences of these depletions in the basin are not fully understood or manifested yet. For example, land subsidence is a likely outcome, Anderson said.  “Aquifer depletion is not only affecting the wells, but causing lower lake levels and decreased streamflow in the Ararat Basin,” said USGS hydrologist Joshua Valder. “The depletion can also limit municipal supplies and potentially affect water quality as water from deeper in the aquifer is withdrawn to keep up with demands.”  During a recent two-week trip, the scientists traveled to Yerevan, Armenia, where they provided training on data collection to help develop a hydrogeologic plan and groundwater model for the Ararat Basin.  “One of the highlights of our recent trip was collecting water-level and water-quality data with a team of knowledgeable and enthusiastic water professionals from Armenia who are beginning to collect data to help with this study,” said USGS hydrologist Janet Carter. “We returned to South Dakota with useful information and are looking forward to acquiring more data from the Armenian water professionals.”  As the project progresses, the scientists will measure water levels in both flowing and non-flowing wells throughout the basin to determine water-level changes and areas where wells no longer flow. This information can be used to better understand the status and trends of water levels as a result of competing water uses such as aquaculture, agriculture and municipal supplies.  At the peak of aquaculture in the Ararat Basin, about 260 fish farms were in operation. Several fish farms have since been abandoned leaving behind wells that are still discharging groundwater on the ground.  “We know of more than 30 communities that had flowing wells to supply their drinking water, and now those wells no longer flow,” said Patrick Meyer, a science and technology advisor with USAID Armenia. “Over-extraction of groundwater has widespread consequences beyond just the water sector. For example, in recent years, the Armenian nuclear power plant has had to build new systems to ensure adequate water supply for cooling.”  Proper sealing of abandoned wells could help conserve some of the precious groundwater.  “Modeling of the artesian aquifer in the Ararat Basin would be a good next step,” Valder said. “Modeling can help determine which of the abandoned wells could be sealed using limited resources and may best benefit the aquifer.” More information about this study is available on the USGS South Dakota Water Science Center website. The growth of aquaculture to raise trout, sturgeon and other cold-water fish has increased withdrawals of critical groundwater in the Ararat Basin of Armenia. The USGS is working with partners, including USAID, to develop scientific tools for water-resource managers to understand and predict consequences of management decisions in Armenia. Field training on well inventory and collection of water-level data at a non-flowing well near Yeghegnavan, Armenia, near the Armenia/Turkey/Iran border. Mt. Ararat is in background. The growth of aquaculture to raise trout, sturgeon and other cold-water fish has increased withdrawals of critical groundwater in the Ararat Basin of Armenia. The USGS is working with partners, including USAID, to develop scientific tools for water-resource managers to understand and predict consequences of management decisions in Armenia. Mark Anderson, Director of the USGS South Dakota Water Science Center, demonstrates how to collect a stable isotope sample from a flowing well near Sis, Armenia. The growth of aquaculture to raise trout, sturgeon and other cold-water fish has increased withdrawals of critical groundwater in the Ararat Basin of Armenia. The USGS is working with partners, including USAID, to develop scientific tools for water-resource managers to understand and predict consequences of management decisions in Armenia. Field training on how to measure water level using a pressure gage for a flowing well in Sis, Armenia. The growth of aquaculture to raise trout, sturgeon and other cold-water fish has increased withdrawals of critical groundwater in the Ararat Basin of Armenia. The USGS is working with partners, including USAID, to develop scientific tools for water-resource managers to understand and predict consequences of management decisions in Armenia. #usgs #news
South Dakota-based scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey are helping to restore a depleted aquifer and build in-country expertise for managing groundwater in the Ararat Basin of Armenia.
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EarthWord – Xeriscaping http://bit.ly/1rcX3hz #usgs #news
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EarthView – Wildfires Scorch Large Swaths Along Oklahoma-Kansas border http://bit.ly/1SgIcNf #usgs #news
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Most Wind Towers in Southern Great Plains Are Low Risk to Sandhill Cranes http://bit.ly/1SbPXE1 #usgs #news
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New Pump-house in Magnuson Park Provides Water for Scientific Research, Wetlands, Wildlife and Recreation: Summary: SEATTLE –The U.S. Geological Survey announced the completion of its new Western Fisheries Research Center pump-house structure in the southeast part of Magnuson Park in Seattle. The pump-house provides water for scientific research, nearby wetlands and associated wildlife and recreation. --- Contact Information: David  Woodson ( Phone: 206-526-6569 ); Paul  Laustsen ( Phone: 650-329-4046 ); --- SEATTLE –The U.S. Geological Survey announced the completion of its new Western Fisheries Research Center pump-house structure in the southeast part of Magnuson Park in Seattle. The pump-house provides water for scientific research, nearby wetlands and associated wildlife and recreation. The pump-house brings in water from nearby Lake Washington allowing USGS’ fisheries center to conduct research in its wet lab facilities. “Thank you to the USGS for their work to improve Magnuson Park for visitors and wildlife through the thoughtful design and construction of the new pump house,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.  In the early 2000s, new regulations, safety concerns and pump wear-and-tear indicated that a new pump-house was needed. USGS worked together with the City of Seattle Parks and Recreation Department, Magnuson Environmental Stewardship Alliance and other interested parties to come up with a plan that would allow the construction of a new pump structure, while improving the park for both wildlife and visitors. "USGS has been a good neighbor in the past by providing water for wetlands construction, improving wildlife passage and aesthetics, and by helping restore park land adjacent to their WFRC,” said Tom Kelly of MESA. The coordinated effort involved a design for the new pump-house, which serves a pipeline underground through an easement to USGS, and directing cleaned water from WFRC into the Magnuson Park wetlands. Since the project required removal of some trees and vegetation, USGS also invested in restoration and mitigation efforts. The pump structure needed to be an above-ground structure, so the USGS had local Seattle artist Jeff Jacobson create an environmentally themed mural on its walls and local interpretive designer and illustrator, Denise Dahn, provide educational signage near the structure and associated wetlands.  “This piece has a sort of hyper-wildlife feel, where you celebrate and connect with wildlife,” said Jeff Jacobson, the mural artist. “I may live in downtown Seattle, but I love nature and am happy that people can come to the park, experience this piece, and enjoy nature along the way.” The wetlands in Magnuson Park—receiving year-round water from the USGS WFRC—provides habitat for a multitude of wildlife species, including waterfowl and other birds, frogs, insects and aquatic invertebrates, and is a wonderful place for wildlife watching and otherwise enjoying nature. “The USGS conducts cutting-edge fisheries research at this facility, this new pump ensures that vital management information is generated here,” said Jill Rolland, Director of the USGS WFRC. The USGS WFRC, located on the south side of NE 65th St., is one of 17 ecosystem-focused USGS science centers across the United States, and one of only two USGS science centers that focus exclusively on fisheries science. The WFRC focuses on critical natural resource issues facing the nation and provides impartial science to managers of fish and aquatic resources in the western United States.   Magnuson Park was once a U.S. Navy airfield and later transferred to the City of Seattle and other state and federal agencies. It is the second largest park in Seattle and is continually transforming to provide a unique combination of enjoyable features and activities including boating, tennis, swimming, walking, sports fields, and nature and wildlife watching in an urban setting. Murals on the USGS Western Fisheries Research Structure Pump House structure by Jeff Jacobson.  Interpretive signage created by interpretive designer and illustrator Denise Dahn, with murals of USGS Western Fisheries Research Center Pump House created by Jeff Jacobson in background. Murals on the USGS Western Fisheries Research Center Pump House structure by Jeff Jacobson.  #usgs #news
SEATTLE –The U.S. Geological Survey announced the completion of its new Western Fisheries Research Center pump-house structure in the southeast part of Magnuson Park in Seattle. The pump-house provides water for scientific research, nearby wetlands and associated wildlife and recreation.
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Citizen Science – Volcanic Ash Collection Workshop and Public Lecture http://bit.ly/1SFlVY9 #usgs #news
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One Year After the M7.8 Nepal Earthquake http://bit.ly/2496hcF #usgs #news
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Winners Announced in Visualize Your Water High School Citizen Science Challenge http://bit.ly/1SdzGyx #usgs #news
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Community Flood Protection May Also Help Endangered Salmon to Thrive: Summary: TACOMA, Wash. — Building a river setback levee to reduce the risk of flood for a community may also help endangered fish species to thrive, according to the results of a novel computer model reported by the U.S. Geological Survey.  --- Contact Information: John  Clemens ( Phone: 253-552-1635 ); Paul  Laustsen ( Phone: 650-329-4046 ); --- TACOMA, Wash. — Building a river setback levee to reduce the risk of flood for a community may also help endangered fish species to thrive, according to the results of a novel computer model reported by the U.S. Geological Survey.  For the White River in King County, Wash., a proposed setback levee would help reduce flood risks, as well as minimize environmental impacts and provide increased habitat for federally listed species of salmon. A setback levee is a levee relocated farther away from a river channel in order to reduce the risk of flooding by creating a wider riverbed with increased floodwater capacity. Setback levees also allow river flows to spread out and slow down.  In cooperation with King County Water and Land Resources Division, USGS scientists studied a 2-mile reach of the White River near Pacific, Wash., at the site of a proposed setback levee, about 68 miles downstream of Mount Rainier. The proposed project would increase the levee-to-levee distance across the river from the current 195 to 295 feet, to as wide as about 1,300 feet.  Traditional river-restoration computer models that simulate the effects on fish species have relied on preferred habitats determined primarily by river depth, velocity, and riverbed materials, often ignoring the role of food supply and foraging behavior in habitat quality. USGS scientists took the novel approach of having their model “follow the fish food” and simulate how river insects—food for salmon—are carried downstream by varying river flows and at varying river temperatures. In high river flows, for example, salmon can use up a lot of energy as they struggle to hold their position, while their food insects are swept quickly downstream.  Results of the USGS computer model indicate that the proposed setback levee project would likely help endangered salmon thrive as they develop and mature, based on their increased energy intake (more river insects) and reduced energy expenditure (due to lower river flows). The report, "Effect of a levee setback on aquatic resources using two-dimensional flow and bioenergetics models,” by R.W. Black, C.R. Czuba, C.S.Magirl, Sarah McCarthy, Hans Berge, and Kyle Comanor, is published as U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2016-5025, available online. More information about the USGS study can be found here. For over 100 years, the USGS Washington Water Science Center has been investigating the water resources of the state. The data we collect are essential for a reliable supply of safe drinking water, protection from floods and other natural disasters, hydroelectric power, agriculture, manufacturing, recreation and the environment.  #usgs #news
TACOMA, Wash. — Building a river setback levee to reduce the risk of flood for a community may also help endangered fish species to thrive, according to the results of a novel computer model reported by the U.S. Geological Survey.
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How Climate Change Might Affect Polar Bears’ Bodies: Summary: PORTLAND, Ore. — You really are what you eat. That’s the taking-off point for a new polar bear study, conducted by U.S. Geological Survey researchers with an assist from the Oregon Zoo — and published this week in the journal Physiological and Biochemical Zoology. --- Zoo polar bears help scientists understand effects of Arctic bears’ shifting diets Contact Information: Paul  Laustsen, USGS ( Phone: 650-329-4046 ); Hova Najarian, Oregon Zoo ( Phone: 503-220-5714 ); --- PORTLAND, Ore. — You really are what you eat. That’s the taking-off point for a new polar bear study, conducted by U.S. Geological Survey researchers with an assist from the Oregon Zoo — and published this week in the journal Physiological and Biochemical Zoology. As sea ice shifts in the Arctic, scientists have noted a corresponding shift in polar bears’ diets. In Western Hudson Bay, for example, sea-ice loss has been associated with declines in the consumption of benthic-feeding prey, such as bearded seals. In East Greenland, polar bears have increased consumption of hooded seals and decreased consumption of their more typical prey, ringed seals.  The degree to which these types of changes are common throughout polar bear populations, and their implications on bear health, are not well understood. To determine whether bears are changing their diet in these remote Arctic regions, scientists are gathering baseline data from a couple of animals closer to home — Tasul and Conrad, two resident polar bears at the Oregon Zoo.  “Science can sometimes be a slow process,” said Amy Cutting, who oversees the zoo’s North America and marine life areas. “And climate change is happening rapidly. Anything we can do to quickly gain information about how polar bears respond will help managers make critical decisions for protecting them in the wild.”  Using a handy chemical tool called “stable isotopes” — which include the carbon and nitrogen atoms that exist in every living thing — researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey are revealing how polar bears, which currently boast the highest-fat diets of all the animal kingdom, process different types of meals.  “This new tool is allowing us to use hair and blood samples to discover whether polar bear diets have changed since the ’80s, when we began keeping records,” said Dr. Karyn Rode, the USGS wildlife biologist who led the study.  This is possible, Rode says, because when a polar bear eats a meal of seal, whale or walrus, it takes on that organism’s isotope load as well.  These chemical markers can then be detected in the bears’ own tissue samples, such as their blood or hair, which grows at a predictable rate and reveals the bear’s past “dietary signature” — or what and where their meals were eaten, she says.  But it’s not quite that simple.  “It’s not just that a 50 percent salmon diet shows up as 50 percent salmon in the body,” Rode said. “Some gets routed toward body fat, some gets stored and some is transformed directly to energy. I need to understand how the bear body processes food before I can understand how different diets may affect them.”  During data collection, the zoo bears participated in what zoo staff dubbed a “surf and turf” experiment — switching between marine and terrestrial foods. By comparing this new data to USGS archive samples from the Chukchi and Southern Beaufort Sea bear populations over the past 25 years, Rode and her team may reveal the effects of this new meal diversity on polar bears. “We’re hoping to study their diets over time to explain potential changes in resource use as a result of climate-related changes in this sensitive Arctic ecosystem,” said USGS research biologist Craig Stricker.  This project, conducted by the USGS Polar Bear Team, is part of the USGS’s Changing Arctic Ecosystems research on the effects of climate change on polar bears. The zoo is a service of Metro and is dedicated to its mission of inspiring the community to create a better future for wildlife. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Oregon silverspot and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, western pond turtles and Oregon spotted frogs. Other projects focused on saving animals from extinction include studies on Asian elephants, polar bears, orangutans and cheetahs.  Support from the Oregon Zoo Foundation enhances and expands the zoo’s efforts in conservation, education and animal welfare. Members, donors and corporate and foundation partners help the zoo make a difference across the region and around the world. The zoo opens at 9 a.m. daily and is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Visitors who travel to the zoo via MAX receive $1.50 off zoo admission. Call TriMet Customer Service, 503-238-RIDE (7433), or visit trimet.org for fare and route information. #usgs #news
PORTLAND, Ore. — You really are what you eat. That’s the taking-off point for a new polar bear study, conducted by U.S. Geological Survey researchers with an assist from the Oregon Zoo — and published this week in the journal Physiological and Biochemical Zoology.
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Mystery Solved: Traits Identified for Why Certain Chemicals Reach Toxic Levels in Food Webs http://bit.ly/240k45v #usgs #news
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