There is a well written news article in the Boulder Daily Camera based on our paper
Degu, A. M., F. Hossain, D. Niyogi, R. Pielke Sr., J. M. Shepherd, N. Voisin, and T. Chronis, 2011: The influence of large dams on surrounding climate and precipitation patterns. Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, doi:10.1029/2010GL046482, in press
It is reproduced below from the February 18 2011 Boulder’s Daily Camera.
CU-Boulder: Reservoirs can change regional rainfall patternsResearch highlights ways humans inadvertently affect local weather by Laura Snider Camera Staff Writer
Large dams — and the reservoirs they create — can increase rainfall in semiarid regions, according to a team of researchers that includes a scientist from the University of Colorado.
The study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, took into account both the size of the reservoir and the changes the reservoir may have caused in the way surrounding lands were used.
“When you have a dam, the alteration of the landscape and the presence of the water body provide more water vapor to the atmosphere than would be there in the natural state,” said Roger Pielke Sr. of CU’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences.
Studies such as this one are important, Pielke said, because they highlight the ability of humans to inadvertently alter weather patterns and, therefore, modify the local impacts of larger climatic changes. These types of studies also show that there are many ways humans can affect the climate beyond emitting greenhouse gases, one of which is by altering the landscape.
“There are a whole range of forcings that can affect weather as well as climate,” he said. “And they’re underreported in terms of how humans are altering the climate system.”
Faisal Hossain, a researcher at Tennessee Tech and a co-author of the study, agrees that the new research represents a change in mindset about how humans interact with the climate.
“We know a lot about how climate affects reservoirs, but what we didn’t know a lot about was what a reservoir could do to the local climate,” he said in a news release. “We just reversed our thinking by saying that a reservoir and the activities it supports are just as important a player for climate as the larger climate is for the reservoir.”