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  1. Optical water types (OWTs) were identified from an in situ dataset of concomitant biogeochemical and optical parameters acquired in the Amazon River and its tributaries, in the Lower Amazon region, at different hydrological conditions from 2014 to 2017. A seasonal bio-optical characterization was performed. The k-means classification was applied to the in situ normalized reflectance spectra (rn(λ)), allowing the identification of four OWTs. An optical index method was also applied to the rn(λ) defining the thresholds of the OWTs. Next, level-3 Sentinel-3 Ocean and Land Color Instrument images representative of the seasonal discharge conditions were classified using the identified in situ OWTs as reference. The differences between Amazon River and clearwater tributary OWTs were dependent on the hydrological dynamics of the Amazon River, also showing a strong seasonal variability. Each OWT was associated with a specific bio-optical and biogeochemical environment assessed from the corresponding absorption coefficient values of colored dissolved organic matter (aCDOM) and particulate matter (ap), chlorophyll-a and suspended particulate matter (SPM) concentrations, and aCDOM/ap ratio. The rising water season presented a unique OWT with high SPM concentration and high relative contribution of ap to total absorption compared to the other OWTs. This bio-optical characterization of Lower Amazon Rivermore »waters represents a first step for developing remote sensing inversion models adjusted to the optical complexity of this region.« less
  2. The global development of hydropower dams has rapidly expanded over the last several decades and has spread to historically non-impounded systems such as the Amazon River’s main low land tributaries in Brazil. Despite the recognized significance of reservoirs to the global methane (CH 4 ) emission, the processes controlling this emission remain poorly understood, especially in Tropical reservoirs. Here we evaluate CH 4 dynamics in the main channel and downstream of the Santo Antônio hydroelectric reservoir, a large tropical run-of-the-river (ROR) reservoir in Amazonia. This study is intended to give a snapshot of the CH 4 dynamics during the falling water season at the initial stage after the start of operations. Our results show substantial and higher CH 4 production in reservoirs’ littoral sediment than in the naturally flooded areas downstream of the dam. Despite the large production in the reservoir or naturally flooded areas, high CH 4 oxidation in the main channel keep the concentration and fluxes of CH 4 in the main channel low. Similar CH 4 concentrations in the reservoir and downstream close to the dam suggest negligible degassing at the dam, but stable isotopic evidence indicates the presence of a less oxidized pool of CH 4more »after the dam. ROR reservoirs are designed to disturb the natural river flow dynamics less than traditional reservoirs. If enough mixing and oxygenation remain throughout the reservoir’s water column, naturally high CH 4 oxidation rates can also remain and limit the diffusive CH 4 emissions from the main channel. Nevertheless, it is important to highlight that our results focused on emissions in the deep and oxygenated main channel. High emissions, mainly through ebullition, may occur in the vast and shallow areas represented by bays and tributaries. However, detailed assessments are still required to understand the impacts of this reservoir on the annual emissions of CH 4 .« less
  3. The current resurgence of hydropower expansion toward tropical areas has been largely based on run-of-the-river (ROR) dams, which are claimed to have lower environmental impacts due to their smaller reservoirs. The Belo Monte dam was built in Eastern Amazonia and holds the largest installed capacity among ROR power plants worldwide. Here, we show that postdamming greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the Belo Monte area are up to three times higher than preimpoundment fluxes and equivalent to about 15 to 55 kg CO 2 eq MWh −1 . Since per-area emissions in Amazonian reservoirs are significantly higher than global averages, reducing flooded areas and prioritizing the power density of hydropower plants seem to effectively reduce their carbon footprints. Nevertheless, total GHG emissions are substantial even from this leading-edge ROR power plant. This argues in favor of avoiding hydropower expansion in Amazonia regardless of the reservoir type.