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Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999



Item #d97sep15

"Increases in Fluxes of Greenhouse Gases and Methyl Mercury Following Flooding of an Experimental Reservoir," C.A. Kelly (Dept. Microbiol., Univ. Mantioba, Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2, Can.), J.W.M. Rudd et al.,Environ. Sci. & Technol., 31(5), 1334-1344, May 1997.

Reports on extensive field measurements in Canada and the recommendations indicated for minimizing production of greenhouse gases and toxic methyl mercury from reservoirs: (1) minimize the total area flooded (avoid flooding areas of low relief); and (2) minimize the flooding of wetlands, which contain larger quantities of organic carbon than uplands.

Item #d97sep16

"Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Amazonian Hydroelectric Reservoirs: The Example of Brazil's Tucuruí Dam as Compared to Fossil Fuel Alternatives," P.M. Fearnside (Natl. Inst. for Res. in the Amazon--INPA, CP 478, 69011-970 Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil; e-mail:,Environ. Conserv., 24(1), 64-75, Mar. 1997.

Uses a tropical case study to illustrate how the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions from reservoirs should be calculated and compared with those of alternative energy sources such as fossil fuels. The bulk of emissions from hydroelectric generation occur early in the lifetime of the project, while those from fossil fuel generation are constant in proportion to the power generated. Results show that the selected method of time preference is a key factor in the outcome. For instance, with low annual discount rates (1-2%) the global warming impact of the Tucurui Dam is 3-4 times less than that of fossil fuel, but the situation reverses above a discount rate of 15%.

Item #d97sep17

"Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Hydropower: The State of Research in 1996," L. Gagnon (Environ. Dept., Hydro-Québec, 75 René Lévesque W., Montréal PQ H2Z 1A4, Can.), J.F. van de Vate,Energy Policy, 25(1), 7-13, Jan. 1997.

Reports on findings of a recent expert meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency on the assessment of greenhouse gases from hydropower. Considers both emissions during construction and those resulting from flooding to create reservoirs. In most cases, hydropower plants are a good alternative to fossil fuel generation in cold climates, but this may not be the case in humid tropical climates, where research on this issue is badly needed.

Item #d97sep18

Comment and Reply: Environ. Conservation, 23, 1996:

"Are Hydroelectric Dams in the Brazilian Amazon Significant Sources of 'Greenhouse Gases?'" L.P. Rosa, R. Schaeffer (COPPE, Univ. Fed. Rio de Janeiro, Centro Technol., Bloco C, Sala 211, CP 68565, Cidade Univ., Ilha do Fundao, 21945-970 Rio de Janeiro, RJ Brazil; e-mail:, M.A. dos Santos, pp. 2-6, Mar. 1996. Counters a 1995 paper by Fearnside, which concluded that the global warming impact of hydroelectric reservoirs in the Amazon is greater than that of fossil fuel sources of energy.

"Hydroelectric Dams in Brazilian Amazonia: Response to Rosa, Schaeffer & dos Santos," P.M. Fearnside (Natl. Inst. for Res. in the Amazon--INPA, CP 478, 69011-970 Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil; e-mail:, pp. 105-108, June 1996. Presents a short, point-by-point defense of his 1995 analysis, rebutting the above comment.

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