Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Urban land transformation and electricity production impact river ecosystems on much larger scale

Leave a Comment

August 23, 20 DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory  Read full ScienceDaily article here

New mapping methods can help urban planners minimize the environmental impacts of cities’ water and energy demands on surrounding stream ecologies.

Using streamflow data from the U.S. Geological Survey, the researchers mapped changes to natural hydrology to assess how infrastructure development and competition over water resources affects the environment at a national scale.

The results indicate that urban land transformation and electricity production together affect seven percent of U.S. streams, which influence habitats for more than 60 percent of all North American freshwater fish, mussel, and crayfish species.

…In the five cities, urban land transformations negatively affected more stream length overall than any other factor considered, including electricity production. The introduction of roads, buildings, and other impervious surfaces alters the natural water cycle, displaces water supplies for downstream communities and can threaten the loss of rich and diverse aquatic species.

…”Both the source and solution to global environmental challenges may lie in the hands of cities. Unfortunately, the changes we discuss are highly transformative, not cheap,” McManamay said. “Our goal here is to give cities a way to look at the big picture, so to speak, and to generate metrics that will help them move toward more environmentally sound policies as they continue to develop.

Ryan A. McManamay et al. US cities can manage national hydrology and biodiversity using local infrastructure policy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2017; 201706201 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1706201114

View all articles

Comments are closed