Image of the Week – The Belo Monte Dam Complex, Brazil


In northern Brazil, the
Belo Monte Dam complex on the Xingu River, has changed the
course of the river and surrounding landscape.
Construction began in 2011, and the complex
began producing hydropower in 2016. When fully
operational in 2018, it will be the world’s fourth
largest hydropower plant. Landsat’s shortwave infrared
bands distinguish water and land. This band
combination displays the rainforest as green, and
faded green is deforestation. In the 2015 image, bright
areas indicate construction of the dams, canals, and
dikes to contain the reservoir. The primary dam
creates a reservoir and a canal diverts 80% of the
Xingu’s flow into another reservoir.
At the same time these dams have caused the
original path of the river to dry up, affecting fish
and turtles unique to that stretch of the river, and
thousands of people who depend on fishing for
their livelihoods.

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