Journal article

Large hydropower and water-storage potential in future glacier-free basins

  • Farinotti, Daniel Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW), ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland - Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), Birmensdorf, Switzerland
  • Round, Vanessa Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW), ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland - Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), Birmensdorf, Switzerland
  • Huss, Matthias Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW), ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland - Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), Birmensdorf, Switzerland - Department of Geosciences, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland
  • Compagno, Loris Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW), ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland - Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), Birmensdorf, Switzerland
  • Zekollari, Harry Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW), ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland - Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), Birmensdorf, Switzerland
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    01.11.2019
Published in:
  • Nature. - 2019, vol. 575, no. 7782, p. 341–344
English Climate change is causing widespread glacier retreat1, and much attention is devoted to negative impacts such as diminishing water resources2, shifts in runoff seasonality3, and increases in cryosphere-related hazards4. Here we focus on a different aspect, and explore the water-storage and hydropower potential of areas that are expected to become ice-free during the course of this century. For roughly 185,000 sites that are glacierized at present, we predict the potentially emerging reservoir storage volume and hydropower potential. Using a climate-driven glacier- evolution model5 and topographical analysis6, we estimate a theoretical maximal total storage and hydropower potential of 875 ± 260 cubic kilometres and 1,355 ± 515 terawatt-hours per year, respectively (95% confidence intervals). A first-order suitability assessment that takes into account environmental, technical and economic factors identifies roughly 40 per cent of this potential (355 ± 105 cubic kilometres and 533 ± 200 terawatt-hours per year) as possibly being suitable for realization. Three quarters of the potential storage volume is expected to become ice-free by 2050, and the storage volume would be enough to retain about half of the annual runoff leaving the investigated sites. Although local impacts would need to be assessed on a case- by-case basis, the results indicate that deglacierizing basins could make important contributions to national energy supplies in several countries, particularly in High Mountain Asia.
Faculty
Faculté des sciences et de médecine
Department
Département de Géosciences
Language
  • English
Classification
Hydrology
License
License undefined
Identifiers
Persistent URL
https://folia.unifr.ch/unifr/documents/308343
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