For example, if deforestation continues, one of the world’s largest dam projects in Brazil will deliver around a third less energy than is currently estimated, according to the research, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) last week (13 May).
Researchers had presumed that cutting down trees near dams increases the flow of water and hence energy production. This is because crops and pastures that replace trees take less water from the ground and lose less moisture by evaporation.
But trees also release water vapour into the atmosphere, which turns into rain and feeds hydroelectric power stations, and this new research suggests that wider deforestation can reduce overall rainfall and therefore energy production. This should be…
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