, Volume 46, Issue 5, pp 566–577 | Cite as

A method for the assessment of long-term changes in carbon stock by construction of a hydropower reservoir

  • Julio Werner Yoshioka Bernardo
  • Michael Mannich
  • Stephan Hilgert
  • Cristovão Vicente Scapulatempo Fernandes
  • Tobias Bleninger


Sustainability of hydropower reservoirs has been questioned since the detection of their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions which are mainly composed of carbon dioxide and methane. A method to assess the impact on the carbon cycle caused by the transition from a natural river system into a reservoir is presented and discussed. The method evaluates the long term changes in carbon stock instead of the current approach of monitoring and integrating continuous short term fluxes. A case study was conducted in a subtropical reservoir in Brazil, showing that the carbon content within the reservoir exceeds that of the previous landuse. The average carbon sequestration over 43 years since damming was 895 mg C m\(^{-2}\mathrm{{day}}^{-1}\) and found to be mainly due to storage of carbon in sediments. These results demonstrate that reservoirs have two opposite effects on the balance of GHGs. By storing organic C in sediments, reservoirs are an important carbon sink. On the other hand, reservoirs increase the flux of methane into the atmosphere. If the sediments of reservoirs could be used for long term C storage, reservoirs might have a positive effect on the balance of GHGs.


Carbon cycle Fluxes Sedimentation Sequestration 



The authors acknowledge the Project funding within the ANEEL (Brazilian National Energy Agency) Call 09/2008 supported by the APINE companies. The authors are thankful to the Project Partner LACTEC for leading the project and collaborating during the measurement campaigns and providing the additional data. Special thanks go to Maurícius M. dos Santos and Vanessa D. Gonçcalves for laboratory analyses and field sampling, João P. J. Sabóoia for chamber and funnel flux measurements, Elaine V. Oliva for soil profile sampling and vegetation data. We also would like to thank the energy company COPEL, specially to Juarez Alves de Araujo, for the support during the measurement campaigns and the Brazilian funding agencies CAPES and CNPq for providing scholarships for the participating doctoral and master students. We are indebted to the Baden-Württemberg Stiftung for the financial support of this Research Project by the Baden-Württemberg-STIPENDIUM, BWS plus.


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dpto. de Hidraulica e Saneamento (DHS)Univ. Federal do Paraná (UFPR)CuritibaBrazil
  2. 2.Dpto. de Engenharia Ambiental (DEA)Univ. Federal do Paraná (UFPR)CuritibaBrazil
  3. 3.Institute for Water and River Basin ManagementKarlsruhe Institute of TechnologyKarlsruheGermany

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