Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Climate Change Will Impact Global River Flow, Scientists Warn

Date:
October 13, 2007
Source:
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Summary:
A global analysis of the potential effect of climate change on river basins indicates that many rivers impacted by dams or extensive development will require significant management interventions to protect ecosystems and people, according to a new article.

The water level on the Potomac River at Great Falls, Maryland, was low on October 10, 2007. By the 2050's, researchers predict that mean annual river discharge is expected to increase by about 20 percent in the Potomac. In contrast California's Sacramento River is expected to decrease by 20 percent.
Credit: Dan Hogan

A global analysis of the potential effect of climate change on river basins indicates that many rivers impacted by dams or extensive development will require significant management interventions to protect ecosystems and people, according to an article published in the online version of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

"As a result of damming and development, major rivers worldwide have experienced dramatic changes in flow, reducing their natural ability to adjust to and absorb disturbances," said lead author Dr. Margaret Palmer, Director of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Chesapeake Biological Laboratory. "Given expected changes in global climate and water needs, this could lead to serious problems for both ecosystems and people."

In their analysis, the authors project river discharge under different climate and water withdrawal scenarios and combine this with data on the impact of dams on large river basins. The results are presented in global maps illustrating potential changes in discharge and water stress for dam-impacted and free-flowing basins.

The projections indicate that every populated basin in the world will experience changes in river discharge -- some are expected to have large increases in flood flows while other basins will experience water stress such that there is not enough water to meet human needs. For example, by the 2050's, mean annual river discharge is expected to increase by about 20 percent in the Potomac and Hudson River basins but to decrease by about 20 percent in Oregon's Klamath River and California's Sacramento River.

The magnitude of the changes is used to identify basins likely and almost certain to require proactive or reactive management intervention. The study also finds that nearly one billion people live in areas likely to require action and approximately 365 million people live in basins almost certain to require action.

Specific, proactive restoration, rehabilitation, and management actions are recommended to enhance the resilience of riverine ecosystems and minimize impacts. These efforts will minimize risks to ecosystems and people and may be less costly than reactive efforts taken only once problems have arisen. Proactive actions include stormwater and sediment management, channel reconfiguration, dam removal, land acquisition and riparian management.

"This report calls attention to significant risks facing many of the world's major rivers and those people who live near or depend on them for water or food," said Palmer. "Many of these risks could be reduced dramatically if proactive management measures are implemented now. It's now up to the world's political leaders to decide whether or not to step forward and put in place programs designed to minimize the impacts we may see on our ecosystems and people."

The article, "Climate change and the world's river basins: anticipating management options," is coauthored by authors from the United States, Sweden, Germany and Australia. This work was supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Global Climate Change Program, the Swedish Research Council and the Swedish Research Council Formas, Land and Water Australia, Water CRC Australia, the DFG--German Research Foundation and the International Water and Climate Dialogue.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. "Climate Change Will Impact Global River Flow, Scientists Warn." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 October 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071012105820.htm>.
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. (2007, October 13). Climate Change Will Impact Global River Flow, Scientists Warn. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071012105820.htm
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. "Climate Change Will Impact Global River Flow, Scientists Warn." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071012105820.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

AFP (Apr. 23, 2014) — The UN mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) led a mine clearance demonstration on Wednesday in the UN-controlled buffer zone where demining operations are being conducted near the Cypriot village of Mammari. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) — For months California has suffered from a historic drought. The lack of water is worrying for farmers and ranchers, but for gold diggers it’s a stroke of good fortune. With water levels low, normally inaccessible areas are exposed. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — With only three weeks until Minnesota's fishing opener, many are wondering if the ice will be gone. Some of the Northland lakes are still covered by up to three feet of ice, causing concern that just like last year, the lakes won't be ready. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niño Event This Year

Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niño Event This Year

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — With Pacific ocean water already showing signs of warming, the NOAA says there's about a 66 percent chance the event will begin before November. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins