A new study has found that waterways altered by human activity are at higher risk of flooding. The research has been published in the journal Nature Sustainability.
The University of Waterloo study analyzed the seasonal flow patterns of 2,272 rivers in Canada and the United States and found that human-managed rivers – those affected by developments like dams, canals or intensive urbanization – had significantly different flow patterns compared to streams in natural watersheds. Larger increases in flow in managed watersheds indicate more severe flooding – possibly due to increased paved surfaces in urban areas. On the other hand, reduced flow can lead to water shortages and loss of biodiversity in managed waterways.
The study used natural watersheds untouched by human activity to measure the impact of climate change on river flow. Using them as a reference, the researchers then compared the flow of managed rivers within a radius of 115 kilometers to measure the impact of human developments. “Compared to their natural neighbors, about 48% of human-modified streams experienced significant increases in seasonal flow trends, while 44% showed significant decreases in seasonal flow trends,” said Nitin Singh, postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Waterloo. of earth and environmental sciences and principal author of this book. “We used machine learning to show conclusively that these changes are caused by human activity.”
While previous studies have looked at stream flows on an annual scale, this study accounts for seasonal effects like spring floods and summer droughts, which are critical to water management. “It is important to recognize that human alterations to the landscape often amplify the effects of climate change on river flow. We must take responsibility for managing our landscape sustainably, because it is not just climate that changes it,” said Nandita Basu, professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Civil and Environmental Engineering. (ANI)
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