Hydroelectricity is a cornerstone of many low-carbon scenarios, but hydro reservoirs may account for considerably more atmospheric methane than previously believed, Climate Central reports.
“Until recently, it was believed that about 20% of all man-made methane emissions come from the surface of reservoirs,” Magill writes, but “new research suggests that figure may be much higher.” The difference matters, since methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
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Reservoirs’ contribution to global methane emissions is “still a big question mark” due to limited research, said associate professor John Harrison of Washington State University-Vancouver. But a 2012 study in Singapore found the impact is likely higher than previously believed, so that “rapid hydropower development and increasing carbon emissions from hydroelectric reservoirs to the atmosphere should not be downplayed.”