Climate change adversely impacting global river flows: Study

November 14th, 2007 - 2:09 am ICT by admin  
According to an article published in the online version of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, damming and development have resulted in major rivers experiencing dramatic changes in flow, reducing their natural ability to adjust to and absorb disturbances.

Dr. Margaret Palmer, Director of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, and lead author of the study, has warned that these expected changes in global climate and water needs, “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.

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.

The study has called for specific, proactive restoration, rehabilitation, and management actions are recommended to enhance the resilience of riverine ecosystems and minimize impacts.

Proactive actions include storm water and sediment management, channel reconfiguration, dam removal, land acquisition and riparian management.

Authors from the United States, Sweden, Germany and Australia prepared the study. (ANI)

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