Water Reservoirs Release Tons Of Greenhouse Gases And Accelerate Global Warming, Study Finds

Posted: Oct 2 2016, 8:58am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News


Water Reservoirs Release Tons of Greenhouse Gases and Accelerate Global Warming, Study Finds
Photo Credit: Getty Images

New research says that dams and water reservoirs are actually a major source of greenhouse gases

Scientists have just made a shocking discovery about water reservoirs and dams. Dams and reservoirs are used for generating hydroelectric power, which is widely considered a safer alternative to gas, coal and nuclear power plants. But a new research suggests that these reservoirs are actually a major source of greenhouse gases and are releasing around 1 gigaton of carbon dioxide into the air every year, which is equivalent to 1.3 percent of all greenhouses gases produce by humans. To put it in perspective, dams and reservoirs produce more greenhouse gases than all of the Canada.

Carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases contribute heavily to global warming. Therefore, governments across the globe are working together to curb greenhouse gases and prevent climate change. Recently, researchers from Washington State University have uncovered a new source of greenhouse gas emissions and they were surprise to find how much it is contributing to the rise in global temperatures. More importantly, these emissions from reservoirs are largely in the form of methane, a greenhouse gas that is 34 times more lethal than carbon dioxide. Methane accounts for 79 of all emissions produced by reservoirs while carbon and nitrous oxide account for 17 and 4 percent respectively. 

“There’s been kind of an explosion in research into efforts to estimate emissions from reservoirs. So we synthesized all known estimates from reservoirs globally, for hydropower and other functions, like flood control and irrigation. And we found that the estimates of methane emissions per area of reservoir are about 25 percent higher than previously thought, which we think is significant given the global boom in dam construction, which is currently underway.” Lead author of the study Bridget Deemer told The Washington Post.

The findings came from more than 200 studies on reservoirs around the world, providing details on the level of greenhouse gases around reservoirs. These studies pointed to much higher levels of emissions than previously thought. 

“There’s been a growing sense in the literature that methane bubbles are a really important component of the total emissions from lake and reservoir ecosystems,” said Deemer. “This study revisited the literature to try and synthesize what we know about the magnitude and control on methane emissions and other greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide.”

According to a report, more than 3,000 hydropower dams, each with a capacity of more than 1 MW, are currently under construction. And this rapid construction of dams could have a more detrimental effect on climate than we thought.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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