Global Dam Tracker (GDAT): A Global Database of More than 35,000 Dams with Location, Catchment, and Attribute Information


Alice Tianbo Zhang✫ and Vincent Xinyi Gu


We present one of the most comprehensive geo-referenced global dam databases to date. The Global Dam Tracker (GDAT) contains 35,000 dams with cross-validated geo-coordinates, satellite-derived catchment areas, and detailed attribute information. Combining GDAT with fine-scaled satellite data spanning three decades, we demonstrate how GDAT improves upon existing databases to enable inter-temporal analysis on the costs and benefits of dam construction on a global scale. Our findings show that over the past three decades, dams have contributed to a dramatic increase in global surface water coverage, especially in developing countries in Asia and South America. This is an important step toward a more systematic understanding of the worldwide impact of dams on local communities. By filling in the data gap, GDAT would help inform a more sustainable and equitable approach to energy access and economic development.