Rainforest Dams Need Rainforests For Water

Deforestation may significantly decrease the hydroelectric potential of tropical rainforest regions, warns a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, reports Rhett Butler at Mongabay. The study used climate, hydrological, and land use models to forecast the impact of potential forest loss on hydropower generation on the Xingu River, a major tributary of the Amazon where the world’s third largest dam — Belo Monte — is currently under construction. They find that deforestation could inhibit rainfall and discharge up to 36 percent, potentially limiting Belo Monte’s electricity output to just a quarter of its installed capacity. Yet despite the potential impact, the researchers say that policymakers are largely failing to account for the effects of deforestation on power generation. “The problem is that power plant designers typically ignore the effects of future deforestation. Or, if they do consider it, they presume that deforestation will increase the amount of water flowing to the dams,” said lead study author Claudia Stickler. “When we incorporated the effects of deforestation at the regional level, our results show quite the opposite.” And as climate change makes the Amazon water cycle more extreme, this, too, will inhibit hydroelectric power output.

 

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Source

Deforestation will undercut effectiveness of rainforest dams
(05/13/2013) Deforestation may significantly decrease the hydroelectric potential of tropical rainforest regions, warns a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The study, used climate, hydrological, and land use models to forecast the impact of potential forest loss on hydropower generation on the Xingu River, a major tributary of the Amazon where the world’s third largest dam — Belo Monte — is currently under construction. Mongabay

See also: Fewer rain forests mean less energy for developing nations, study finds. The loss of tropical rain forests is likely to reduce the energy output of hydroelectric projects in countries like Brazil that are investing billions of dollars to create power to support economic growth. New York Times

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About melharte

Mel (Mary Ellen) Harte is a biologist (PhD) and climate change educator. She co-authored the free online book, COOL THE EARTH, SAVE THE ECONOMY, available at www.CoolTheEarth.US, and writes the CLIMATE CHANGE THIS WEEK column at the HuffingtonPost. Living summers in the alpine Rockies, she is on the frontlines of watching what climate change can do. Her diagnostic digital photographs of wildflowers have appeared in numerous publications.
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