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Hydroelectric Dams in the Brazilian Amazon as Sources of ‘Greenhouse’ Gases

  • Philip M. Fearnside (a1)

Existing hydroelectric dams in Brazilian Amazonia emitted about 0.26 million tons of methane and 38 million tons of carbon dioxide in 1990. The methane emissions represent an essentially permanent addition to gas fluxes from the region, rather than a one-time release. The total area of reservoirs planned in the region is about 20 times the area existing in 1990, implying a potential annual methane release of about 5.2 million tons. About 40% of this estimated release is from underwater decay of forest biomass, which is the most uncertain of the components in the calculation. Methane is also released in significant quantities from open water, macrophyte beds, and above-water decay of forest biomass.

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K.B. Bartlett , P.M. Crill , J.A. Bonassi , J.E. Richey & R.C. Harriss (1990). Methane flux from the Amazon River floodplain: Emissions during rising water. J. Geophysical Research, 95(D10), pp. 16, 773–8.

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P.M. Fearnside , N. Leal Filho & P.M. Fernandes (1993). Rainforest burning and the global carbon budget: biomass, combustion efficiency and charcoal formation in the Brazilian Amazon. J. Geophysical Research, 98(D9), pp. 16, 733–43, 6 figs.

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C. Martius , R. Wassmann , U. Thein , A.G. Bandeira , H. Rennenberg , W. Junk & W. Seiler (1993). Methane emission from wood-feeding termites in Amazonia. Chemosphere, 26(1–4), pp. 623–32.

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Environmental Conservation
  • ISSN: 0376-8929
  • EISSN: 1469-4387
  • URL: /core/journals/environmental-conservation
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