Global Biogeochemical Cycles

The net carbon footprint of a newly created boreal hydroelectric reservoir

Authors

  • Cristian R. Teodoru,

    Corresponding author
    1. Groupe de Recherche Interuniversitaire en Limnologie, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Québec at Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    2. Now at Department of Earth and Environmental Science, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
      Corresponding author: C. R Teodoru, Department of Earth and Environmental Science, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200E, Box 2411, B-3001 Leuven, Belgium. (teo.teodoru@ees.kuleuven.be)
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  • Julie Bastien,

    1. Environnement Illimité Inc, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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  • Marie-Claude Bonneville,

    1. Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, Canada
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  • Paul A. del Giorgio,

    1. Groupe de Recherche Interuniversitaire en Limnologie, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Québec at Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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  • Maud Demarty,

    1. Environnement Illimité Inc, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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  • Michelle Garneau,

    1. Centre de Recherche en Géochimie Isotopique et en Géochronologie, Department of Geography, University of Québec at Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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  • Jean-Francois Hélie,

    1. Centre de Recherche en Géochimie Isotopique et en Géochronologie, Department of Geography, University of Québec at Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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  • Luc Pelletier,

    1. Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, Canada
    2. Centre de Recherche en Géochimie Isotopique et en Géochronologie, Department of Geography, University of Québec at Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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  • Yves T. Prairie,

    1. Groupe de Recherche Interuniversitaire en Limnologie, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Québec at Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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  • Nigel T. Roulet,

    1. Department of Geography, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    2. Global Environment and Climate Change Centre, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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  • Ian B. Strachan,

    1. Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, Canada
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  • Alain Tremblay

    1. Hydro-Québec, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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Corresponding author: C. R Teodoru, Department of Earth and Environmental Science, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200E, Box 2411, B-3001 Leuven, Belgium. (teo.teodoru@ees.kuleuven.be)

Abstract

[1] We present here the first comprehensive assessment of the carbon (C) footprint associated with the creation of a boreal hydroelectric reservoir (Eastmain-1 in northern Québec, Canada). This is the result of a large-scale, interdisciplinary study that spanned over a 7-years period (2003–2009), where we quantified the major C gas (CO2 and CH4) sources and sinks of the terrestrial and aquatic components of the pre-flood landscape, and also for the reservoir following the impoundment in 2006. The pre-flood landscape was roughly neutral in terms of C, and the balance between pre- and post-flood C sources/sinks indicates that the reservoir was initially (first year post-flood in 2006) a large net source of CO2 (2270 mg C m−2 d−1) but a much smaller source of CH4 (0.2 mg C m−2 d−1). While net CO2 emissions declined steeply in subsequent years (down to 835 mg C m−2 d−1 in 2009), net CH4 emissions remained constant or increased slightly relative to pre-flood emissions. Our results also suggest that the reservoir will continue to emit carbon gas over the long-term at rates exceeding the carbon footprint of the pre-flood landscape, although the sources of C supporting these emissions have yet to be determined. Extrapolation of these empirical trends over the projected life span (100 years) of the reservoir yields integrated long-term net C emissions per energy generation well below the range of the natural-gas combined-cycle, which is considered the current industry standard.

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