The 2014-2016 Biennial Science Work Plan is available for review

Every two years, the Puget Sound Partnership is required by statute to produce a Biennial Science Work Plan (BSWP). Its primary purposes are to assess how well ongoing research addresses decision-critical uncertainties relating to the recovery of Puget Sound, make recommendations for priority science actions in the coming biennium, and suggest how science can better support recovery. The latest report in this series, covering the 2014-2016 biennium, is available for public review until April 30, 2014 at http://www.psp.wa.gov/.

The authors report several key conclusions:

  • A great deal of science is ongoing that is recovery-relevant (> 181 projects), addressing a wide scope of scientific needs appropriate to an ecosystem as large and complex as Puget Sound.
  • Assessment of how well these projects meet recovery goals was precluded because goals were not sufficiently specified, nor were criteria that would indicate whether goals had been met.
  • Research priorities for the coming biennium are many, but prominent among them is to learn how to monitor, mitigate, and adapt to ocean acidification.
  • The imagined impact of at least 181 research projects focusing on such a diverse array of recovery priorities engenders hope that recovery gains will be forthcoming. However, it also generates expectation that we will have a clear vision of how recovery should proceed, and a better understanding of why recovery progress has been slower than expected. The fact that we currently have neither amplifies the need for advances in discovery that arise from research to be more directly and efficiently applied to the recovery of Puget Sound by applying the principles of Adaptive Management.

 

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Science writing team to cover Salish Sea conference

SalishSea_small_iconWill it be dinoflagellates and harmful algal blooms? How about the latest and greatest on ocean acidification or shoreline armoring? Maybe your interest lies with eelgrass? Or orcas? A look at the schedule for the upcoming Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference can be dizzying. There are no less than 450 science talks, not to mention 150 posters, eight discussion panels, numerous featured speakers and just three days to see everything.

The Puget Sound Institute in collaboration with the EPA and the Puget Sound Partnership is here to help. We can’t clone you so you can attend every presentation, but we’ll do the next best thing. We are assembling a team of ten science writers to fan out and document key conference sessions. Writers will follow presentations related to topics of concern for Salish Sea recovery and will come back with some of the most interesting highlights. We will post their stories over the course of the next few months in the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound.

Check back for more details about this project as the conference approaches. We’ll also be joining the conversation on social media with regular posts to #SSEC14 on Twitter.

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Associated Press features caffeine tracer research

Shawn Ultican, a water-quality investigator with the Kitsap Public Health District in Kitsap, Wash., fills a jar with water along the Illahee shore. Meegan M. Reid, Kitsap Sun

Shawn Ultican, a water-quality investigator with the Kitsap Public Health District in Kitsap, Wash., fills a jar with water along the Illahee shore. Meegan M. Reid, Kitsap Sun

A recent article in the Kitsap Sun features a PSI-related study that uses caffeine as a tracer of human contamination in Puget Sound. The article was distributed by the Associated Press to dozens of news sites around the country. PSI and the University of Washington Center for Urban Waters have been collaborating with Kitsap County on the study.

Read the A.P. article.

Read more about caffeine tracers and other emerging contaminants in the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound. 

Read a related article about similar PSI research at Everest Base Camp.

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Salish Sea Conference mobile app in testing phase

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SSEC app icon

We are really excited about the 2014 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference mobile event app. Data imports and final configurations are underway and we have a crack team testing it out on iOS, Android and desktop platforms. The app will allow 1,000+ conference attendees to completely manage their schedules online. Go paperless!

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Socio-cultural values associated with salmon in the Quinault Indian Nation

Sockey salmon. Photo courtesy of NOAA.

Sockey salmon. Photo courtesy of NOAA.

A 2014 report from the Puget Sound Institute describes a study of socio-cultural values associated with blueback salmon in the Quinault Indian Nation. The blueback salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) is a unique strain of sockeye that returns primarily to the Quinault river system. The report was prepared by Kelly Biedenweg and Sophia Amberson of the University of Washington and Justine James of the Quinault Indian Nation.

Download the report. 

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PSI Visiting Scientist key advisor in halt to Japanese whaling

Japanese whalers have killed an estimated 10,000 minke and other whales in the Southern Ocean off Antarctica since a worldwide moratorium on commercial whaling was issued in 1986. Photo courtesy of NOAA.

Japanese whalers have killed an estimated 10,000 minke and other whales in the Southern Ocean off Antarctica since a worldwide moratorium on commercial whaling was issued in 1986. Photo courtesy of NOAA.

A March 31st ruling by the United Nations to halt Japanese whaling in the Antarctic draws heavily on analysis by PSI Visiting Scientist Marc Mangel, who served as an Independent Scientific Expert in the case. The Japanese government had argued that whaling in the region was primarily for scientific research, but had been challenged in a lawsuit by Australia. Continue reading

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PSI publishing mobile app for Salish Sea conference

A new mobile app for the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference

A new mobile app for the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference

PSI’s Encyclopedia of Puget Sound has been chosen to publish the official mobile app for the upcoming Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Seattle. The app will allow users to customize their schedules, network with conference participants and receive real-time news about conference events. It will be available for all devices and will be the first time a mobile app has been developed specifically for the biennial conference.

EoPS is creating the app with the help of developers at CrowdCompass with funding support from the Puget Sound Partnership. The Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference is the region’s premier gathering dedicated to the science and policy of Salish Sea ecosystem recovery. The conference will be held April 30 – May 2, 2014 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

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Legislature hears testimony on Puget Sound forage fish

Tessa Francis testifies before the state legislature on the importance of Puget Sound forage fish.

Tessa Francis (center facing away from camera) testifies before the state legislature on the importance of Puget Sound forage fish.

Puget Sound Institute research scientist Tessa Francis testified before the Washington House Environment Committee today about the ecological importance of the region’s forage fish.

She discussed findings from PSI’s recent Study Panel on Ecosystem-based Management of Forage Fish in Puget Sound.

Watch the testimony online.

 

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From Puget Sound to Everest: water quality studies may aid climbers

Lake at Gorak Shep. This is the current water source as other sources are frozen at the moment. Buildings of Gorak Shep, Tawoche, Cholatse, and Lobuche in the background.

Lake at Gorak Shep. This is the current water source as other sources are frozen at the moment. Buildings of Gorak Shep, Tawoche, Cholatse, and Lobuche in the background. Photo courtesy MountEverestFoundation.org

Scientists at PSI and the Center for Urban Waters have taken cutting edge research on emerging contaminants to the highest place on earth. The same techniques used to analyze water quality in Puget Sound are being applied to Everest base camp.

Water samples were collected on the mountain and sent back to PSI researchers Andy James and Justin Miller-Schulze as part of a study on potential human impacts on drinking water. New techniques can identify chemical tracers known as CECs that indicate human sources.

Continue reading

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Reducing the risk of PCBs in sediments

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) were banned in the 1970s, but continue to persist in sediments at the bottom of Puget Sound. A vestige of earlier use and improper disposal, they remain among the most toxic pollutants in local waters, are implicated in the decline of the region’s endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale population, and are at the heart of the current debate about fish consumption rates in the Pacific Northwest.  Cleaning up PCB-contaminated sediments such as those found in the Duwamish Waterway in Seattle is an expensive and often contentious issue.  Traditional dredging and capping operation may not reduce the risk from PCBs to levels required by law or acceptable to the local communities.

Southern Resident Killer Whales in Puget Sound. Credit: NOAA

PCBs are leading culprits in the decline of Southern Resident Killer Whales in Puget Sound. Photo courtesy of NOAA.

A paper in the journal Water Research sheds new light on a novel ‘in place’ treatment option that effectively lowers risk by reducing the activity of PCBs in the sediment.  The paper, co-authored by PSI director Joel Baker shows how adding granulated activated carbon (GAC) affects bacterial dechlorination of PCBs in Baltimore Harbor, which “has the potential to promote greater degradation [of PCBs] in situ.”

Read the full paper:

B.V. Kjellerup, C. Naff, S.J. Edwards, U. Ghosh, J.E. Baker, K.R. Sowers. 2014. Effects of activated carbon on reductive dechlorination of PCBs by organohalide respiring
bacteria indigenous to sediments. Water Research. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2013.12.030.

Read more about the effects of PCBs in the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound.

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New approaches to ecosystem synthesis

SSECLogoIs technology changing the way we think about ecosystem information? PSI’s Encyclopedia of Puget Sound will host a two-part session on new approaches to ecosystem synthesis at this spring’s Salish Sea conference.

Presentations will run the gamut from demonstrations of visualization software to wiki-based conceptual models. The session will conclude with a 30-minute panel discussion featuring Joel Baker, University of Washington Puget Sound Institute, Rob Fatland of Microsoft Research, Amy Merten of NOAA’s Office of response and Restoration, Ian Perry of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Charles Simenstad, University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences.

The conference will be held April 30 – May 2, 2014 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. Read more.

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