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Research and applications using the core GDW datasets

Used together, the three core datasets offer global coverage of existing medium and large sized dams, associated large reservoirs, and future hydropower developments. They have been used to derive preliminary results to spur deeper research along new lines of inquiry. These data and the associated mapping and analytical tools will also be useful to governments, development agencies, NGOs, academics, community groups and those undertaking water resources, energy, infrastructural or environmental research, planning or assessments. The core datasets were used as key inputs in the Nature publication “Mapping the world’s free-flowing rivers” (Grill et al. 2019).

Key characteristics of the three core dam datasets are shown below.

GOODD dams

GOODD contains the geospatial coordinates for more than 38,000 dams across the planet. Example applications for GOODD are shown here.

Concentration of dams at the sub-national level

The highest concentrations of GOODD dams by state can be found in southern Brazil and central to southern India.

GRanD v1.1 and v1.3 dams

GRanD v1.1 and v1.3 contain the locations and characteristics for 7,320 dams and reservoirs across the planet. GRanD dams are snapped to the HydroSHEDS river network, which facilitates research on the size of rivers being dammed. Example applications for GRAND are shown here.

When focusing on reservoirs with storage greater than 100 million cubic metres (MCM), large dam and reservoir construction peaked between 1960 and 1969. Cumulative volume of water impounded peaked later, between 1970 and 1979. Large reservoir construction slowed considerably after these peaks. Though dam and reservoir construction has not returned to rates seen over the middle of the 20th century, the size of rivers being dammed has increased. Fewer dams with large reservoirs were built between 2000 and 2016, but the cumulative discharge of rivers being impounded by large dams nearly reaches that of the much more active decade between 1970 and 1979, indicating that recent dams are increasingly built on larger rivers.

FHReD dams

Future Hydropower Reservoirs and Dams contains the spatial location and planned megawatts for 3,700 hydropower dams that are either planned or under construction. The highest concentration of future hydropower projects can be found in Brazil. Countries like China and India also feature high concentrations of future hydropower projects. Example applications for FHRED are shown here.

Though Brazil is planning more dams than China, China is planning the highest concentration in terms of total megawatts of energy produced.