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Biodiversity: USGS study shows how streamflow variations affect fish diversity in Tennessee River Basin

Small changes from norm can have big impacts

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New research to help inform river management.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — An in-depth U.S. Geological Survey study in the Tennessee River basin may help quantify how streamflow alteration changes aquatic ecosystems.

The research is based on community data collected by the Tennessee Valley Authority, and predictions of streamflow characteristics at more than 600 locations — and the findings indicate that even small deviations from natural streamflows can reduce fish diversity.

The  study highlights the importance of the timing, magnitude, and variability of low streamflows and the frequency and magnitude of high streamflows as key characteristics critical to assessing how fish communities change in response to streamflow alteration. Continue reading

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Global warming: Rising temps threaten power production

The Browns Ferry nuclear power plant in Alabama had to shut down several times last summer because the Tennessee River’s water was too warm to be used for cooling.

More partial and total shutdowns of older coal and nuclear power plants predicted as air, river temps get warmer

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Lack of adequate cooling water supplies have already resulted in reduced production and even temporary shutdowns of several thermoelectric power plants, and global warming could exacerbate those problems, potentially cutting production by up to 19 percent in some places.

Just last summer, the the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Alabama had to shut down more than once because the Tennessee River’s water was too warm to use it for cooling.

That problem will become more common, according to a group of researchers from the University of Washington and Europe, who projected impacts for the next 50 years. According to the study, the likelihood of extreme drops in power generation — complete or almost-total shutdowns — is projected to almost triple. Continue reading

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