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Reg Environ Change. 2018;18(6):1871-1881. doi: 10.1007/s10113-018-1321-y. Epub 2018 Apr 9.

Land cover change explains the increasing discharge of the Paraná River.

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1Sustainability Science Program, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA USA.
2Present Address: Goddard Earth Sciences Technology and Research, and Global Modeling and Assimilation Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD USA.
Present Address: Energy Research Office, Empresa de Pesquisa Energética (EPE), Rio de Janeiro, 20.090-003 Brazil.
4School of Engineering, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW Australia.
5State Key Laboratory of Hydrology-Water Resources and Hydraulic Engineering, and College of Hydrology and Water Resources, Hohai University, Nanjing, 210098 China.
6Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, COPPE-UFRJ, Civil Engineering Program, Rio de Janeiro, RJ Brazil.
7Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA USA.


Over the past 40 years, the discharge in South America's Paraná River basin has increased despite no evidence of significant rainfall increases in the basin. In this analysis, we show that the observed multi-decadal increase in discharge can be explained by concomitant changes in land cover that have occurred within the basin during this period. Our analysis also indicates that the peak discharge timing may have shifted concurrently from January/February in the 1970s to March in more recent decades. While land-use effect dominantly alters the long-term temporal dynamics of the river discharge over multi-decades, the change in the seasonality of the discharge can be attributable to the combined effect of the land-use and climate variability. This study suggests that the mean annual discharge is likely to change in the other South American River basins where land transformation is currently taking place, and the shift of the month of peak discharge needs to be taken into consideration to forecast the hydropower generation under changing climate and land conversion.


Hydroelectricity generation in Brazil; Land cover change; Paraná River basin; River discharge; Shift of the peak discharge timing

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