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Dams, hydroelectricity, and the effect apon the ecosystems - Term Paper Example

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Effects of Hydroelectricity and Dams Have upon the Ecosystem Introduction Freshwater and electricity are very essential resources that all humans depend on. Without dams, people could find it hard to get fresh water in dry seasons and more still; dams have been used as a source of food since fish and other edible aquatic animals can be reared in dams…
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Dams, hydroelectricity, and the effect apon the ecosystems
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Download file to see previous pages However, the idea of constructing more dams in various places has been welcomed with great opposition. Many economic and social arguments have been raised against the construction of dam, but the most profound fact that has overshadowed all other arguments is the major ecological effects that large dams have on the ecosystem. Considering hydroelectricity, hydropower is actually a renewable energy since it depends on the water cycle on earth for the generation of electricity. The cycle of water begins when the water evaporates to form clouds which in turn condenses and precipitates back to the earth and gets back to the water reservoirs. Despite the fact that hydropower pose no effects on the quality of air, the process of constructing and operating large hydropower dams can have significant impact on natural ecosystem such as river systems wildlife and aquatic life population. The assessment of how hydropower affects the environment can be effectively done by reviewing different cases. This paper aims at discussing the effects that hydroelectricity and dams have upon the ecosystem. Effects of Dams upon the Ecosystem Dams have significant effects on both the downstream and upstream ecosystems. Dams comprise hindrances on rivers longitudinal exchange and they alter numerous processes in the natural environment. Flooding of dams in the upstream brings about total damage to the terrestrial ecosystems via a process known as inundation. Flooding eliminates all terrestrial animals and plants inhabiting the affected areas. Water reservoirs inhibit some aquatic species from migrating by obstructing their pathways1. On the downstream, there are obvious changes in sediment transport, water quality and temperature, and flow regime. These particular changes occur gradually and they are not easy to predict. The very common effect of large dams downstream is the reduction of annual water discharge; this lead to an increase in low flows and a decrease in high flows. Flood peaks reduction decreases the period, degree and frequency of floodplain outpouring. A decrease in the channel-formation shrinks the chances of channel migration. Transportation of sediment in the reservoir brings about complex alterations in aggregation and deprivation on the dams surface. Regulation alters the chronological flooding prototype, an effect that desynchronizes temperature systems and yearly water flow. These particular alterations have a direct influence on some dynamic factors affecting the heterogeneity of habitats and the integrity of the river ecosystem ecology. Changes in water quality, water to land interface, and thermal regime have direct impact in primary production, which translates to long term effects on aquatic life and other members in the upper food chain. Dams may also bring about alterations in the ecosystem even at a distance far from the dam2. For instance, any alteration on the transportation of sediments may result in changes in floodplains, coastal delta and river morphology numerous of miles from the dam site. The river ecosystem responds to dams in several, complex, and diverse ways. Subsequently, while endeavouring to establish the impacts of dams on the ecosystem there is need for large bank of information relating to: riparian vegetation and related fauna; quality of water; rivers hydraulic features; geomorphologic features; aquatic animals and their environment; importance of river’ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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