From: University of Texas at Austin
Published June 14, 2017 04:46 PM

Hydroelectric Dams May Jeopardize the Amazon's Future

Hundreds of built and proposed hydroelectric dams may significantly harm life in and around the Amazon by trapping the flow of rich nutrients and modifying the climate from Central America to the Gulf of Mexico. These findings, published in Nature, emerge from a multidisciplinary, international collaboration of researchers from 10 universities, led by scientists at The University of Texas at Austin.

To meet energy needs, economic developers in South America have proposed 428 hydroelectric dams, with 140 currently built or under construction, in the Amazon basin — the largest and most complex network of river channels in the world, which sustains the highest biodiversity on Earth. The rivers and surrounding forests are the source of 20 percent of the planet’s fresh water and valuable ingredients used in modern medicine. 

While these hydroelectric dams have been justified for providing renewable energy and avoiding carbon emissions, little attention has been paid to the major disturbances dams present to the Amazon floodplains, rainforests, the northeast coast of South America and the regional climate, the researchers said.

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