Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

Ancient blue oaks reveal human impact on San Francisco Bay salinity

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Abstract

San Francisco Bay is one of the most important estuaries on the west coast of the Americas. Its water quality is controlled primarily by streamflow from the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. In fact, freshwater inflow from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta explains 86% of the salinity variability at the mouth of the San Francisco Bay estuary [Peterson et al., 1989]. The massive diversion of streamflow by the California State Water Project and the Central Valley Project, part of the largest manmade water control system on Earth [Reisner, 1988], has raised salinity in the estuary on daily, seasonal, and annual timescales [Nichols et al., 1986; Peterson et al., 1989].