May 14 News: Loss Of Rain Forest Leads To More CO2, Less Hydroelectric Power

The loss of rain forests is likely to lead to lower hydroelectric energy production in nations like Brazil. [New York Times]

The loss of tropical rain forests is likely to reduce the energy output of hydroelectric projects in countries like Brazil that are investing billions of dollars to create power to support economic growth.

That is the conclusion of a group of experts whose findings, released Monday, run counter to the conventional understanding of deforestation’s impact on watersheds.

For years, scientists and engineers have noted an increase in river flows when the trees along streams are removed. The water in the soil, which would otherwise have been taken up by the tree roots and sent into the atmosphere, instead moves directly into streams and rivers.

At the same time, large areas of tropical forest actually create rain clouds as moisture from their leaves evaporates. So the elimination of swaths of these forests decreases rainfall. Cut down enough trees, the scientists argue, and the indirect impact of lost rainfall outweighs the direct impact of removing trees.

The study, published by The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, predicts that extensive deforestation will leave less water in the rivers to generate hydropower from projects like Belo Monte, which is under construction on the Xingu River in Brazil and will be the world’s third largest hydropower complex.

Climate-fueled Superstorm Sandy displaced the largest number of people in the U.S. last year, or third-most globally. [The Hill]

Could valley fever be fueled by climate change? [Salon]

The Alaskan town of Newtok is being consumed by the sea, likely creating the first American climate refugees. [Guardian]

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a “forum” today to discuss natural gas, as the Interior Department prepares to issue draft rules on disclosing chemicals while fracking on public lands, and energy companies push for looser liquid natural gas export rules. [The Hill, AP]

“Fatbergs,” built-up clods of oil and fat accumulated underneath the streets of London, will be burned for 130 gigawatt-hours of electricity. [CleanTechnica]

Instead of just cutting emissions, or just capturing burned CO2, or just geoengineering, it may be that we have to also remove and sequester carbon dioxide already in the air. [Slate]

The Arctic Institute says the U.S. strategy for the Arctic an unspecific wish list — and it does not adequately address climate change. [Washington Post]

Britain prepares for another climate-fueled rainy summer. [Telegraph]