Assesing Hydrophysical/Enivornmenal impacts by Dams in the Amazon (fluvial) Basin

Friday, 19 December 2014
Charles Wight and Edgardo M Latrubesse, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, United States
Growing demands from human activities are increasing the pressure and impacts on the Amazon River basin. Covering almost 40% of South America, the Amazon River basin’s health is of global importance. With tributaries in 6 different countries, the anthropogenic impacts on this large system are complex and hard to synthesize. However to better understand large system responses to human impacts such an analysis is called for.

Our objective is to organize a rigorous analysis of the potential hydro-physical impacts of dams on the major sub-basins of the Amazon. We are incorporating existing data of sediment fluxes, deforestation and land-use land-change to include the entire extent of the basin as defined by the fluvial unit. In addition, we will be analyzing the spatial distributions of dams (planned, under construction, and constructed) within each sub-basin. Our preliminary results have used statistical analysis and remote sensing to calculate the extent of deforestation on fluvial regimes of the legal Amazon and concentrated to identify the potential disruptions of sediment fluxes.

Combining the spatial distributions of dam sites, and deforestation per sub-basin we will develop a system to interpret land-use and land-change per catchment. This in turn will allow us to better predict changes in the fluvial regimes and allow for comparisons of vulnerability.