Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A New Climate Change Culprit: Dam drawdowns

"Release of water over a dam. Washington State University researchers have documented an underappreciated suite of players in global warming: dams, the water reservoirs behind them, and surges of greenhouse gases as water levels go up and down."
Methane emissions jump dramatically ?  Yes!

Here is the information provided from the University of Washington -

Contact: Eric 206-799-9186Washington State University

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Washington State University researchers have documented an underappreciated suite of players in global warming: dams, the water reservoirs behind them, and surges of greenhouse gases as water levels go up and down. 
Bridget Deemer, a doctoral student at Washington State University-Vancouver, measured dissolved gases in the water column of Lacamas Lake in Clark County and found methane emissions jumped 20-fold when the water level was drawn down. A fellow WSU-Vancouver student, Maria Glavin, sampled bubbles rising from the lake mud and measured a 36-fold increase in methane during a drawdown. 
Methane is 25 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. And while dams and the water behind them cover only a small portion of the earth's surface, they harbor biological activity that can produce large amounts of greenhouse gases. There are also some 80,000 dams in the United States alone, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Inventory of Dams.  
"Reservoirs have typically been looked at as a green energy source," says Deemer. "But their role in greenhouse gas emissions has been overlooked."
Deemer and Glavin's findings will be on display this week in a poster session at the national meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Portland.
Their efforts are part of a larger attempt to appreciate the role of lakes, reservoirs and streams in releasing greenhouse gases. A study published last year in the journal Science conservatively estimated that the ability of terrestrial ecosystems to act as carbon sinks, storing greenhouse gases, could be one-fourth less than estimated once emissions from reservoirs are considered. 
The WSU-Vancouver work is the first to actually demonstrate and quantify the relationship between water-level drawdowns and greenhouse gas releases, says John Harrison, Deemer and Glavin's advisor and an assistant professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences. 
The research could lead to different ways of managing drawdowns, he says, as emissions may be higher in summer months, when warmer temperatures and low oxygen conditions in bottom waters stimulate the microbial activity that produces greenhouse gases. 
"We have the ability to manage the timing, magnitude and speed of reservoir drawdowns, which all could play a role in how much methane gets released to the atmosphere," Harrison says. 
Managers can also consider the optimal time to take out a dam, Deemer says. While a dam removal may lead to some greenhouse gas emissions initially, she says it will be a one-time occurrence, while emissions can recur with regular drawdowns. The ability of soils and plants to store greenhouse gases could also make reservoir decommissioning a net sink, she says, but researchers "simply don't know at this point." 
With Army Corps of Engineers funding, Deemer now plans to look at three other reservoirs in Oregon and northern California's Klamath basin. 

And yet as interesting and enlightening as this is, it's really is nothing new. No doubt the average reader didn't read this bit of news about the Chinese Three Gorges Dam Project and the same exact dilemma.  Marshes in the drawdown area of the Three Gorges Reservoir could be a significant source of methane. This bit of information was revealed back on the 29th of September 2009 issue of Nature Journal of Science.

Sources: - Chinese Dam may be a Methane Menace - Wetlands around Three Gorges Produce Tonnes of the Greenhouse Gas. 

Journal of Geophysical research Atmospheres - Methane emissions from newly created marshes in the drawdown area of the Three Gorges Reservoir


 I have to admit I really hate the term Global Warming since it focuses merely on one of many symptoms rather than an actual cause. The warming itself is not an actual cause, though it is a cause of crop failures, Glacial melts and endless other domino effects. There are countless symptoms associated with Climate Change and yet all point back to the true cause - Human. And on top of the pile of that human cause can be found the failed leadership and natural resource mismanagement our natural world by such individuals as Scientists themselves. Yes Scientists. Does anyone realize that the majority of scientists and researchers work for and obey the demands of those Corporation Giants that employ them ? I'm not pointing the finger at the Science of 'Discovery and Wonder', I'm speaking of Corporate Industrial Science.

I know I often use the term 'science-based' sarcastically in my posts when referring to many the present inept technologies we as humans use each day and have for decades relied on and believing we cannot do without which scientists have given us. And I probably would not use the term except that there appears to be a movement out there to kiss and worship the very ground these people walk on as hallowed ground. Sorry, I won't even do that with even the conventional Churches in general let alone another entity which seeks to overtake it as the ruling thought authority. Irresponsible Human leadership has done a real number on our natural world. You'd think though that of all humans, Scientists themselves should be the ones to know better. But unfortunately people who put their faith and trust in these individuals and their institutions forget that despite all their supposed knowledge and credibility in the form of diplomas and other letters of recommendation, they are just as imperfect and flawed as the rest of us. 

While it is true that there are Scientists who are the ones that have pointed out the global climate crisis to us, these are far out numbered by those shackled to their corporate employers, even making a defense of these. Scientists have never ALL been on the same page about anything. They are as politically, ideologically, philosophically, religiously and self-interest driven just as any other human beings on Earth. It should come as no surprise that their solutions are often ideologically, politically and sometimes have personal economic motivation. Don't let the pure as the driven snow white lab coat fool you. They're as imperfect as anyone else, though they may have a tough time admitting this publicly.

 Much of the so-called solutions being offered to stop or even reverse climate change as usual are of a materialist fix-it-all pill for nature. They never actually deal with the causes. It's because they know they can't. Not that they don't know real solutions, many do. But implementing them without force is an impossible task and probably wouldn't work even if you did force people under some type of Marshal Law to do the right thing. 

Well, let's get back to the subject at hand in related news to today's announcements. Take a look at the sad state of lake level affairs at Lake Mead on the Colorado River. This too is a part of the Global Climate Change game.

A drawdown at Lake Mead Nevada ? 

My wife and I recently saw how desperate things are on a recent CNN documentary last week dealing with the water issues over in Las Vegas, Nevada the last 12 years in what they are calling a drought. Sounds funny to hear the term drought associated with a desert city like Las Vegas where there has always historically been very little rainfall. Of course they are extreme dependent on what happens upstream throughout the Colorado drainage area which hasn't seen the normal rains over the past decade or more.

Colorado River Drainage

But what they are really referring to is the upstream Colorado River watershed basin stretching all the way up into the Rocky Mountains of several states which presently have been receiving less and less snowpack and annual rainfall historic averages. They showed an area on the lake bed which use to be under water and which now houses a giant construction city and equipment storage area. It actually looks like the new Boulder City which itself was built for the Dam's construction center. Below are some pictures of the expensive sophisticated equipment being used to construct this latest irrigation intake and conduit tunnel towards Las Vegas from Lake Mead.

Vegas Tunnel Constructors
Source:  The Lake Mead Intake No. 3 Project by Vegas Tunnel Constructors Illustrates Accomplishing the Impossible, in Business Review USA

 Workers build a water intake tunnel under Lake Mead near Boulder City, Nev., in 2010. An accident Monday, June 11, 2012, resulted in the death of one worker
Two of the major water intake towers are almost failing, so they are building a third much deeper intake tunnel on the deepest part of Lake Mead. Incredibly the lake level has dropped below 140 below spillway. The photos of the present Lake Mead shoreline to me illustrate just how large the ancient Lake Cahuilla which is now Coachella Valley near Palm Springs must have looked like. The ancient Sea Level line is still visible and as bleached as the Lake Mead if you know where to look for it on a country drive down there. 

To end on a lighter note, below is an online game of sorts created by the University of Las Vegas. It's actually a teaching tool to see how much water you can keep in the lake. The game is actually called "Losing the Lake (MEAD)" game and it is a simulation training to see if you can keep enough water in Lake Mead so that Las Vegas can keep growing like an out of control weed for a few more years. The animation actually illustrates the three intake tunnels and begins with a full lake which lowers. Your job is to delay the inevitable as best as possible. Sounds illogical I know, but that's the reality of the policies being implemented as a result of 'science-based' failed policies. So you just might learn just how human government truly works. There are three levels of difficulty. Interesting to note that 'Control population growth' is not allowed as an option to reduce water use. You can click on it, but an explanatory box pops up. Incredibly it adds real life municipal planning idiocy to illustrate the reality. 

Click Here to Play: "Losing The Lake"

  And on one further final thought, Robert Redford and his son have finished their documentary called Watershed which deals exactly with the problem mentioned above. While they say there are solutions that will work, I agree. But actually getting people to cooperate or CARE is yet another one of those moral issues science says doesn't exist.


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