The weekly wash-up (September 8th)

River and water news –  September 8th, 2014

Water resources a priority for developing northern Australia  The Federal Parliamentary Committee looking at Northern Australia has recommended giving priority to the development and funding of water resource proposals including  a number of dams and weirs for irrigation and mining.  However, the report noted local community concerns over the IFED scheme,  a $2 billion private investment project already on the books for the Gilbert catchment in north Queensland.

Archerfish use tools to target prey  Archerfish hunt by shooting jets of water at unsuspecting prey to knock them into the water. A new study has found the fish really do use water as a tool making them the first known tool-using animal to adaptively change the hydrodynamic properties of a free jet of water. They do this by modulating the dynamics of changes in the cross-section of their mouth opening.

An Archerfish hunting. Photo by Shelby Temple.

An Archerfish hunting. Photo by Shelby Temple.

Switzerland braces for alpine lake tsunami   A canton in landlocked Switzerland, are factoring the risk of a tsunami in Lake Lucerne into their hazard plans. It is the first official acknowledgement of such a threat in Europe’s Alpine region — and comes in step with findings that the risk of tsunamis in the area, which is home to around 13 million people, is much higher than previously thought.

Brazil water crisis leads to rationing and tensions   A drought, affecting Brazil’s southeast and central regions, has prompted rationing in 19 cities, undermined hydropower generation, pushed up greenhouse gas emissions and led to squabbles between states vying for dwindling water resources.

Oldest fossil of water treader found  Fossil hunters in the Rhone valley, France,  have discovered a new insect species – the ancestor of today’s water treaders (Mesoveliidae). The bug was 6 mm long and is the oldest record of the aquatic bug lineage of the Gerromorpha which comprises the water striders and the water measurers.

Life can exist in cold dark world   A massive U.S. expedition to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has shown that there’s life and an active ecosystem one-half mile below the surface. Specifically in a lake that hasn’t seen sunlight or felt a breath of wind for millions of years. The life is in the form of microorganisms that live beneath the enormous Antarctic ice sheet and convert ammonium and methane into the energy required for growth.