Characterization factors for terrestrial acidification at the global scale: A systematic analysis of spatial variability and uncertainty

Roy P-O, Azevedo L, Margni M, van Zelm R, Deschenes L, & Huijbregts MAJ (2014). Characterization factors for terrestrial acidification at the global scale: A systematic analysis of spatial variability and uncertainty. Science of the Total Environment: 270-276. DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.08.099.

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Abstract

Characterization factors (CFs) are used in life cycle assessment (LCA) to quantify the potential impact per unit of emission. CFs are obtained from a characterization model which assess the environmental mechanisms along the cause-effect chain linking an emission to its potential damage on a given area of protection, such as loss in ecosystem quality. Up to now, CFs for acidifying emissions did not cover the global scale and were only representative of their characterization model geographical scope. Consequently, current LCA practices implicitly assume that all emissions from a global supply chain occur within the continent referring to the characterization method geographical scope. This paper provides worldwide 2 degree x 2.5 degree spatially-explicit CFs, representing the change in relative loss of terrestrial vascular plant species due to an emission change of nitrogen oxides (NOx), ammonia (NH3) and sulfur dioxide (SO2). We found that spatial variability in the CFs is much larger compared to statistical uncertainty (six orders of magnitude vs. two orders of magnitude). Spatial variability is mainly caused by the atmospheric fate factor and soil sensitivity factor, while the ecological effect factor is the dominant contributor to the statistical uncertainty. The CFs provided in our study allow the worldwide spatially explicit evaluation of life cycle impacts related to acidifying emissions. This opens the door to evaluate regional life cycle emissions of different products in a global economy.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Acidification; Characterization factors; Spatial variability; Uncertainty analysis
Research Programs: Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM)
Bibliographic Reference: Science of the Total Environment; 500-501:270-276 (1 December 2014) (Published online 16 September 2014)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:50
Last Modified: 25 Feb 2016 08:42
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/10848

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