The State of Bay-Delta Science 2008

The State of Bay-Delta Science 2008 report is the CALFED Science Program's first extensive effort at compiling, synthesizing, and communicating the current scientific understanding of the San Francisco Bay Estuary and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystems. Intended for resource managers, policymakers, and the public, the report provides relevant scientific information in context to help make important policy choices about the Delta. This first report focuses on what was learned during the first stage of the CALFED Program and provides a basis for upcoming decisions during CALFED's stage 2, the Delta Vision Strategic Plan, and other Delta planning initiatives.

Landmark Publication on the California Delta is now available.

Hard copies of State of Bay-Delta Science, 2008 are available by contacting Jill McGee at


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Editorial Board Biographies

Michael Healey, Editor-in-Chief

Dr. Michael Healey received BSc and MSc degrees in Zoology from the University of British Columbia and a PhD in Natural History from the University of Aberdeen (Scotland). He began his professional scientific career in 1970, working on freshwater fisheries, with the Fisheries Research Board of Canada in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In 1974 he transferred to the Pacific Biological Station at Nanaimo, British Columbia, where he led a number of research teams investigating the ecology and productivity of Pacific salmon, including all five North American species. It was there that Dr. Healey became known internationally for his research on Chinook salmon.

In 1990, Dr. Healey joined the faculty of the University of British Columbia as Director of the Westwater Research Centre, an interdisciplinary research unit that focused on scientific and policy issues related to water. As Director of Westwater, he was instrumental in securing several major research grants, in particular a prestigious "ecoresearch" grant under a fund established by the federal government to support interdisciplinary research on environmental problems in Canada. Dr. Healey is author of more than 225 scientific articles and reports and is editor of 2 books on water and sustainable development.

Throughout his career, Dr. Healey has taken a strong interest in how scientific information is used in developing resource management policy. He is recognized internationally as an expert on the ecology of Pacific salmon but also as an expert in the design of resource management systems. His research and teaching are strongly interdisciplinary, which has made him conversant with a number of other disciplines important to resource management decision-making, in particular resource economics, decision analysis and policy analysis. He has served on many national and international boards and committees including at CALFED, the Core Team, which developed the strategic plan for CALFED Ecosystem Restoration Program (ERP), the ERP Science Board, and the CALFED Independent Science Board.

Michael Dettinger

Dr. Michael Dettinger is a research hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, Branch of Western Regional Research, and a research associate of the Climate, Atmospheric Sciences and Physical Oceanography Division at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California. He has degrees from the University of California, San Diego, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles (Atmospheric Sciences). Dettinger has monitored and researched water resources of the West for over 25 years, focusing on regional surface water and groundwater resources, watershed modeling, causes of hydroclimatic variability, and climatic-change influences on western water resources. He has authored over 60 scientific articles in scholarly journals, 20 government reports, and another 60 articles in outreach and less formal outlets. Among other activities over the years, he has been the physical-sciences team leader for DOI-DOD ecosystem planning in the Mojave Desert, founding member of the multi-institutional CIRMONT Western Mountain Climate Sciences Consortium, climate advisor to the CALFED Science Program, member of the Climate Change Technical Advisory Group for DWR’s upcoming 2009 Water Plan Update, and member of the external Science Steering Group for the multi-agency federal Global Water Cycle Program.

Richard Norgaard

Richard B. Norgaard is Professor of Energy and Resources. He received his B.A. in economics from the University of California at Berkeley, M.S. in agricultural economics from Oregon State University, and Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago in 1971. Among the founders of the field of ecological economics, his recent research addresses how environmental problems challenge scientific understanding and the policy process, how ecologists and economists understand systems differently, and how globalization affects environmental governance. He has field experience in the Alaska, Brazil, California, and Vietnam with minor forays in other parts of the globe.

Dr. Norgaard is the author of one book, co-author or editor of three additional books, and has over 100 other publications spanning the fields of environment and development, tropical forestry and agriculture, environmental epistemology, energy economics, and ecological economics. Though an eclectic scholar, he is also among the 1000 economists in the world most cited by other economists (Millennium Editions of Who's Who in Economics, 2000) and was one of ten American economists interviewed in The Changing Face of Economics: Conversations with Cutting Edge Economists (Colander, Holt, and Rosser, University of Michigan Press, 2004). He is currently writing on how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment facilitate collective understandings of complex systems.

Dr. Norgaard has served on numerous committees of the National Academy of Sciences and the former office of Technology Assessment and was a member of the U.S. Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment. He served as President of the International Society for Ecological Economics (1998-2001). He has been a visiting scholar at the World Bank and served on the Science Advisory Board of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He currently serves on the Independent Science Board of the California Bay – Delta Authority, the Board of the American Institute of Biological Sciences, and the Board of EcoEquity.

Key Points from The State of Bay-Delta Science, 2008

  • The Delta of tomorrow will be very different than it is today. Intensifying forces of change, such as land subsidence, rising sea level, species invasions, earthquakes and regional population growth, virtually guarantee that current land and water use in the Delta cannot be sustained. (Chapter 1)
  • The largest estuary in western North America, the Bay-Delta is a system of extremes. Discharge from tributary rivers varies more from year to year than other large western rivers, such as the Columbia or Colorado. (Chapter 2)
  • Many toxic chemicals are a concern in the Delta. Organisms can often be affected by very low concentrations of contaminants. Effects can be magnified though concentration up the food chain or synergistic effects of mixtures. (Chapter 3)
  • Since 2001, both public and scientific attention has focused on the unexpected decline of several open-water fishes (delta smelt, longfin smelt, juvenile striped bass, and threadfin shad). It is clear that export pumping is only one of several factors contributing to the decline. Other factors include changes in food supply, loss of habitat and toxic chemicals. (Chapter 4)
  • When levees were first constructed, Delta islands were close to sea level. Farming, water extraction, burning and wind erosion have lowered the island interiors and recent subsidence modeling suggests that by 2200, the Central Delta will be 30 to 40 feet below sea level. (Chapter 5)
  • With climate change, California will become warmer, more precipitation will fall as rain and less as snow, the snowpack will be much reduced, and there will be less groundwater recharge. These changes will challenge the capacity of California's water management system to provide reliable, high quality water to satisfy human and environmental needs. (Chapter 6)
  • As science has developed a better understanding of Delta water supply, water quality, levees and ecosystem, it has become clear that many problems are tightly interlinked and cannot be solved independently. Greater study of the cross-cutting linkages among problems will be needed for effective solutions to be found. (Chapter 7)
  • Delta problems involve multiple variables, are large in scale, are socially and economically significant, and transcend the established institutional approach to problem-solving. Social scientists call such problems “wicked problems.” The problems are characterized by an evolving set of interlocking issues and there is no definitive formulation of “the” problem or “the” solution. (Chapter 8)