PSI monthly roundup: July 2022

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VIEW THE FULLY FORMATTED NEWSLETTER in your browser Low-oxygen problems to be scrutinized in talks about research, modeling efforts   For decades, researchers have been advancing their understanding of what causes the harmful and sometimes deadly low-oxygen problems afflicting some areas of Puget Sound. A series of 10 workshops on the subject will begin Tuesday, July 26th, and continue into next year. The workshops, coordinated by the Puget Sound Institute, will build on previous discussions, such as the Washington Department of Ecology’s Nutrient Forum and a forthcoming Marine Water Quality Implementation Strategy that […]

PSI monthly roundup: June 2022

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VIEW THE FULLY FORMATTED NEWSLETTER in your browser Boundary spanning in Puget Sound Ecosystem-based management is often a large-scale collaborative effort involving many distinct groups. Boundary spanning organizations such as the Puget Sound Institute can help to support communication and policy development across institutions. In a new paper in the journal Environmental Science & Policy, we look at how knowledge exchange influences science-based ecosystem recovery in Puget Sound. Our paper is now online, and we have created an extended abstract available on the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound. Read more. Magazine series looks […]

New paper describes PSI’s support of ecosystem-based management

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Right now, researchers across Puget Sound are carefully measuring the salinity and temperature of the water, searching for harmful algal blooms and studying the feeding patterns of endangered orcas. They are testing the effects of ocean acidification, counting rockfish and checking the health of our declining kelp forests. Their scope includes salmon genetics and invasive crabs, the flow of rivers and streams. They study thousands of different species and thousands of miles of winding shoreline across a region the size of a small state. Within this region are two pristine national […]

Recent papers from our group: 6PPD-Q updates and the ongoing hunt for contaminants

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New papers this month 6PPD-Quinone: Revised Toxicity Assessment and Quantification with a Commercial Standard A 2022 article in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters revises previous findings on the environmental concentration and toxicity of 6PPD-Quinone, a novel compound lethal to coho salmon. The paper reports that 6PPD-Quinone, a chemical resulting from tire wear particles, “was more toxic than previously calculated and should be categorized as a ‘very highly toxic’ pollutant for aquatic organisms.” Authors include our colleagues at the Center for Urban Waters and the Puget Sound Institute as well as […]

Scientists look for answers in methane bubbles rising from bottom of Puget Sound

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In 2011, sonar operators aboard the ocean-going Research Vessel Thomas G. Thompson inadvertently recorded a surprising natural phenomenon, as the 274-foot ship traversed through Puget Sound while returning to port at the University of Washington. At the time, researchers on board were focused on a host of other projects. They might not have known that the ship’s multi-beam sonar was even turned on. They certainly didn’t realize that the sonar was picking up images that would later be interpreted as multiple plumes of methane bubbles rising from the bottom of […]

Mathematical tools to aid in the interpretation of coronavirus testing

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New mathematical equations co-developed by Puget Sound Institute affiliate research professor Marc Mangel are designed to help health officials interpret coronavirus test results for better risk assessments.  As more people in the U.S. are vaccinated and mask restrictions loosen, public health officials hope that the coronavirus pandemic has reached a turning point. Even so, the virus continues to rage around the world and concerns remain for people who are unvaccinated or may have compromised immune systems. Testing for new infections continues to be a critical tool in the fight against […]

Low-interest loans could help shoreline property owners finance improvements

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As ongoing research confirms the importance of shoreline habitat throughout Puget Sound, experts are looking for new ways to help shoreline property owners pay for bulkhead removals. One emerging idea, which could be established as a formal initiative within a year, consists of a special shoreline loan program that could provide low-interest loans to residential property owners. The owners could then make payments over decades with less strain on their family budgets. A soon-to-be-released report examines the possibilities of a state-sponsored revolving-fund loan program. This type of program would begin […]

Puget Sound Partnership proposing ‘Desired Outcomes’ for ongoing ecosystem recovery

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Puget Sound Action Agenda, often referred to as Puget Sound Partnership’s blueprint for ecological recovery, continues to evolve. The next Action Agenda — scheduled to go into effect a year from now — will incorporate an expanded long-range vision for Puget Sound, complete with broad-based strategies, not just near-term actions. “Desired Outcomes,” the first major component of the next Action Agenda, will be unveiled tomorrow (Thursday) before the Ecosystem Coordination Board, the wide-ranging, 27-member committee that advises the Leadership Council in its recovery oversight and strategic planning. A live video […]

Discovery of toxic chemical in tires spurs scientific and regulatory interest

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The discovery of a mysterious chemical that kills coho salmon in urban streams is expected to spawn new research throughout the world while possibly inspiring new demands for protective regulations. The deadly chemical, associated with automobile tires, was identified by researchers at the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Waters, which is affiliated with the Puget Sound Institute. The findings were published yesterday in the journal “Science.” I wrote about this discovery and more than 20 years of related scientific investigations in PSI’s online magazine “Salish Sea Currents.” “This is […]

Could tire discovery go beyond impacts on coho?

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Scientists have suspected for several years that chemicals from tire wear particles are to blame for the deaths of thousands of coho salmon that have returned to spawn in Puget Sound’s urban streams. Sometimes referred to as “pre-spawn mortality” or “urban runoff mortality syndrome,” these deaths typically occur in streams near roads, and scientists have been analyzing a wide variety of automobile-derived chemicals to see if they produced similar toxic effects. Now, thanks to some painstaking detective work by our partners at the University of Washington Center for Urban Waters […]

A look at future ocean conditions and how they could affect coastal communities

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Scientists tell us that climate change is probably increasing the frequency of extreme events, such as hurricanes, droughts and wildfires. As time goes on, we might expect even more dramatic shifts in the ecosystem, as some species move to more suitable locations and others die out. The Pacific Fishery Management Council, which oversees fishing along the West Coast, has launched an effort to become more nimble and responsive to changing conditions with regard to estimating fish populations and approving sport and commercial fisheries. One effort is to describe how the […]

Warm-water ‘blobs’ significantly diminish salmon, other fish populations, study says

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It’s no secret that salmon and other Northwest fish populations are expected to shrink as a result of a warming Pacific Ocean. But a new study suggests that the resulting decline in commercial fishing by 2050 could be twice as great as previously estimated by climate scientists. The higher estimates of population declines were calculated by researchers at the University of British Columbia, who took into account occasional “marine heat waves” that can play havoc with the ecosystem. A recent example is the warm-water event known as the “blob,” which […]