Claim: Dams are major driver of global environmental change

Watts Up With That?

From the UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO

Lake Orovile Dam

Water reservoirs created by damming rivers could have significant impacts on the world’s carbon cycle and climate system that aren’t being accounted for, a new study concludes.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Waterloo and the Université libre de Bruxelles, appears in Nature Communications. It found that man-made dam reservoirs trap nearly one-fifth of the organic carbon moving from land to ocean via the world’s rivers.

While they can act as a significant source or sink for carbon dioxide, reservoirs are poorly represented in current climate change models.

“Dams don’t just have local environmental impacts. It’s clear they play a key role in the global carbon cycle and therefore the Earth’s climate,” said Philippe Van Cappellen, a Canada Excellence Research Chair in Ecohydrology at Waterloo and the study’s co-author. “For more accurate climate predictions, we need to better…

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