Mapping the impact of climate change on surface recession of carbonate buildings in Europe

Alessandra Bonazza, Palmira Messina, Cristina Sabbioni, Carlota M. Grossi, Peter Brimblecombe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

163 Citations (Scopus)


Climate change is currently attracting interest at both research and policy levels. However, it is usually explored in terms of its effect on agriculture, water, industry, energy, transport and health and as yet has been insufficiently addressed as a factor threatening cultural heritage. Among the climate parameters critical to heritage conservation and expected to change in the future, precipitation plays an important role in surface recession of stone. The Lipfert function has been taken under consideration to quantify the annual surface recession of carbonate stone, due to the effects of clean rain, acid rain and dry deposition of pollutants. The present paper provides Europe-wide maps showing quantitative predictions of surface recession on carbonate stones for the 21st century, combining a modified Lipfert function with output from the Hadley global climate model. Chemical dissolution of carbonate stones, via the karst effect, will increase with future CO2 concentrations, and will come to dominate over sulfur deposition and acid rain effects on monuments and buildings in both urban and rural areas. During the present century the rainfall contribution to surface recession is likely to have a small effect, while the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration is shown to be the main factor in increasing weathering via the karst effect.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2039-2050
Number of pages12
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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