flooding

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ScoMo Blasts Albo Over Taking Too Long To Stage Any Flood Zone Photo Shoots

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 07/07/2022 - 8:08am in

Tags 

Politics, flooding

Former PM Scott Morrison has blasted the current PM Anthony Albanese over the delays flood victims have faced in being involved in any staged photo shoots with any politicians.

”I know that there’s a lot of work to be done as Prime Minister,” said the former PM. ”Trust me, I know. But, Albo needs to get his priorities right and get out there with the photographers.”

”I didn’t spend much time as PM wining and dining the French, no I was boots on the ground having my photo taken.”

When asked if he seriously believed that the key to being PM was to continually stage photo shoots, the former PM said: ”My photo shoots got a lot of likes on Facebook.”

”And not just from Australians, many, many people from all over the World liked my photos.”

”Heck, even the robots got in on it as my advisors told me that a lot of bots liked my stuff.”

”Now, if you’ll excuse me, Parliament is coming back soon so I need to go and see if Jen wants to pop off to Hawaii again.”

”No floods there at the moment.”

Mark Williamson

@MWChatShow

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The Whimsical Skywalks of Rotterdam

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 22/06/2022 - 6:00pm in

Tags 

flooding

Kiss the sky

This week marks the end of a month-long whimsical skywalk through Rotterdam. Since May, the Dutch city has been showcasing its rooftops with a network of “air bridges” that span the chasms between buildings.

The idea is to make residents more aware of an often under-utilized urban space: the hundreds of rooftops that can be used for anything from growing vegetables to socializing with neighbors. The skywalks are accessible by exterior stairs and elevators. Rotterdam hopes that by making rooftops open to the public from the outside, people will think more about their many benefits.

Credit: denkrahm / Flickr

Leon van Geest, director of the Rotterdam Dakendagen Festival, said roofs offer an array of perks, not least of which is more space for plants and biodiversity. Green roofs can also cool down a hot city by as much as five degrees and reduce building energy use by up to 0.7 percent. And for some groups, like small children or older folks, rooftops offer a calmer, traffic-free respite from the hubbub of city life.

But van Geest emphasizes appealing roofs can’t make up for a poorly designed city at street level. “If on the ground level, things are not well, first fix the ground level. Rooftops are not a replacement or a reason to look the other way.”

Read more at Next City

High and dry

An excerpt from the forthcoming book The Water Always Wins takes us to Selsey, England nearly a decade after the town became part of England’s largest retreat from rising sea levels back in 2013. 

Selsey, England. Credit: Carrie Moran / Flickr

“Planned retreat” is a growing trend in climate change adaptation, in which communities threatened by coastal flooding voluntarily abandon their land and move to drier ground. Selsey, a small town two hours southwest of London, was one of these. Nine years ago its flood-prone residents began selling their farms and properties to the government. One decided it “seemed a reasonable way out” after years of expensive flood mitigation efforts. Others were heartened to see the return of a thriving coastal habitat. The project has uncovered some wonders as well, including a submerged Neolithic oak forest now visible at low tide, and a human skull and spine that date back to the Iron Age.

“A lot of what we are realigning is just land that we have claimed from the sea,” said one ecologist. “There’s a sense of … we stole it from salt marsh 200 years ago; we should be putting it back.” 

Read more at Hakai

Doula little dance

As increasingly intense storms put pressure on emergency shelters, a collective of doulas in Louisiana has been making sure the babies in those shelters get the nutrition they need.

Infant nutritional needs are a major gap in emergency planning (and can be precarious even in normal times, as the recent formula shortage has shown). In 2005, several babies died of dehydration following Hurricane Katrina, the result of disaster response that didn’t adequately factor in infant needs.

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The Birthmark Doula Collective works to make sure that doesn’t happen. After Hurricane Laura displaced over 10,000 Louisiana residents in 2020, the collective descended on emergency shelters with dish soap, bottle brushes and liquid formula that doesn’t require refrigeration. They also activated a 24-hour infant-parent emergency hotline staffed with doulas and lactation counselors, partnering with an organization that could translate into Spanish. The hotline received 60 calls in the four weeks following the storm.

“Things could have been going great at home but then you had to evacuate,” said one doula. “You forgot your pump, now one side is engorged … How can we support the family because everything else has changed?”

Read more at The 19th

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California’s Floodplains Are Coming Back, and So Are Their Salmon

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 01/04/2022 - 7:00pm in

Until just a couple of centuries ago, inland California was a lush tapestry of wetlands and floodplains that nourished a thriving ecosystem of fish. But as the state — and its vast agriculture industry — has grown, its waterways have been modified drastically. Rivers have been drained, fields dried out, levees and dams constructed. These engineering feats, coupled with extreme drought, have decimated natural habitats. Today, a shocking 83 percent of native fish species in the state are in decline.

Chinook salmon is one of these. “Winter runs used to have returns in the hundreds of thousands. Now a good year would be 10,000 fish,” says Andrew L. Rypel, a professor of fish ecology at UC Davis where he co-directs the Center for Watershed Sciences. Today, two of California’s three recognized Chinook salmon runs are listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. “We have had years that have just been in the hundreds. It’s a species on the precipice of extinction.”

Now, Rypel and his colleagues are helping the Chinook rebound by working with California rice farmers to recreate the natural floodplains in which the fish used to thrive.

salmon rice“One of the critical parameters that salmon managers are interested in is out-migration survival. Do they make it to the ocean? And how many?” Credit: Center for Watershed Sciences

 The so-called “salmon-rice project” began a decade ago, when a motley group of scientists, rice farmers and conservationists joined together to answer a simple question: if they were to flood rice fields with water from the Sacramento River — effectively mimicking the region’s original ecological rhythms — would juvenile salmon take to the fields and grow? 

First, they conducted some basic experiments to see whether salmon even lived in floodplains. Turns out, they did. The Nigiri Project – which began in the early 2000s, is still ongoing and involves some of the same people working on Rypel’s project — set out to determine whether salmon can survive on rice fields. In Asian countries, freshwater fish are often raised on flooded rice paddies, but it wasn’t known if salmon in particular were suited to that environment.

“The answer was that they not only survive, they grow extremely well,” Rypel says. “The fish were feeding on lush zooplankton that develop off the decomposed rice straws.” Rice straw is a rich source of carbon, and Rypel says that the density of zooplankton (normally microscopic) that develops in these winter-flooded rice plains is so high that you can actually see them with the naked eye, swimming around. 

“It turns out that this kind of food is like an awesome steak for the growing salmon,” he says. UC Davis scientists found that these juvenile salmon survived at high rates in the flooded rice fields — 50 to 80 percent over the course of a month. “That’s excellent for baby fish,” Rypel says. They also grew two to five times faster than they grow in the Sacramento River.

With these data points in hand, Rypel and his colleagues teamed up with the California Rice Commission and California Trout in 2018 and began studying the viability of raising juvenile salmon in small experimental fields. The work was funded, in part, by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a wing of the United States Department of Agriculture that pays farmers and ranchers to do conservation work. 

The researchers found that juvenile salmon grew two to five times faster on the rice fields than they grow in the Sacramento River. Credit: Center for Watershed Sciences

In 2021 the California Rice Commission and the UC Davis scientists got an additional $550,000 grant from NRCS to continue and expand upon their work. (The California Rice Commission and its partners are matching this grant.) Though this is the first year scientists are trying this out on production-scale rice farms, preliminary data is encouraging. For instance, in years like the past one, when the rice fields around the Sacramento River don’t flood naturally, farmers flood their fields with water from the adjacent canals and then scientists stock them with hatchery fish. They then track the fishes’ growth, survival and movements. Data so far indicates that these fish survive at a rate four to five times higher than lab-raised fish. 

In the coming months, they’ll continue to track these hatchery salmon with tiny acoustic transmitters as they make their way out to sea. “One of the critical parameters that salmon managers are interested in is out-migration survival,” Rypel says. “That is: do they make it to the ocean? And how many?” The plan is to track 600 of the salmon to see if they make it to the Golden Gate Bridge and conduct a side-by-side comparison with lab-reared fish of out-migration survival.

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Rypel says it boils down to two words: Big and early. “Being a baby salmon kind of sucks!” he laughs. “It’s really hard. Most of the fish die. You are dodging predators, you have to migrate a super-long distance. You need fat reserves.” Giving the salmon a head start while they’re still very young can have huge knock-on effects. “We think that by rearing them on these rice fields, we can get fish very big, very quick. If the fish can become smolts [juvenile salmon] earlier in the winter, they can ride the flows better and have better survivorship.”

Raising fish in rice paddies is nothing new. Rice farmers from China, Thailand, India and Northern Vietnam have been doing it for centuries – according to some evidence, for as long as 2,000 years. 

According to Rypel, the unusual collaboration between farmers and ecologists is “a good example of how farms can work together with conservation scientists to make a difference.” Credit: Center for Watershed Science

But the project in California is actually more directly inspired by a series of bird conservation efforts dating back to the late 1980s and early ’90s. At the time, Pacific flyway birds — ducks, snow geese, egrets and all the other migratory birds that over-summer up in Alaska or Canada, and over-winter in the Central Valley — were in decline. For decades, rice farmers in the area regularly burned their leftover rice straw after the fall harvest. “People who lived in the area at that time will remember when the skies were black with smoke,” Rypel says. The air quality was poor, and carbon was being released into the atmosphere, as well.

Residents frustrated by poor air quality campaigned to stop this practice, and in 1991 a state law banned it. “Some smart people got together at that time and figured out that if you re-flooded the rice fields, you could naturally decompose the rice straw,” Rypel says. “At the same time, you could potentially provide habitat for the migratory birds that were on the Pacific flyway.” The NRCS began a program where they paid rice farmers to flood their fields instead of burn them, which was a win for the locals, a win for the birds and a win for the farmers, as it gave them a new revenue stream.

“I’m not a bird ecologist, but I work with a lot of bird scientists who have worked on this, and it’s probably one of the big conservation success stories in our country’s history,” Rypel says.

It was that program’s success that got fish ecologists scratching their heads. “Hey, if you can do this for birds, why can’t you do that for fish?” Rypel recounts. “We’ve got 83 percent of species declining in California. We know salmon use the floodplains. Is there a way to do this with fish?” 

The answer appears to be a resounding yes. There are roughly 500,000 acres of rice under cultivation in the Sacramento Valley. “That’s a lot of habitat that’s potentially on the table there,” notes Rypel. He and his colleagues at UC Davis hope to replicate the model on more farms in years to come. “It’s a good example of how farms can work together with conservation scientists to make a difference.”

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