The International Atomic Energy Agency has coordinated an international project addressing climate change and landscape development in post-closure safety assessments of solid radioactive waste disposal. The work has been supported by results of parallel on-going research that has been published in a variety of reports and peer reviewed journal articles. The project is due to be described in detail in a forthcoming IAEA report. Noting the multi-disciplinary nature of post-closure safety assessments, here, an overview of the work is given to provide researchers in the broader fields of radioecology and radiological safety assessment with a review of the work that has been undertaken. It is hoped that such dissemination will support and promote integrated understanding and coherent treatment of climate change and landscape development within an overall assessment process. The key activities undertaken in the project were: identification of the key processes that drive environmental change (mainly those associated with climate and climate change), and description of how a relevant future may develop on a global scale; development of a methodology for characterising environmental change that is valid on a global scale, showing how modelled global changes in climate can be downscaled to provide information that may be needed for characterising environmental change in site-specific assessments, and illustrating different aspects of the methodology in a number of case studies that show the evolution of site characteristics and the implications for the dose assessment models. Overall, the study has shown that quantitative climate and landscape modelling has now developed to the stage that it can be used to define an envelope of climate and landscape change scenarios at specific sites and under specific greenhouse-gas emissions assumptions that is suitable for use in quantitative post-closure performance assessments. These scenarios are not predictions of the future, but are projections based on a well-established understanding of the important processes involved and their impacts on different types of landscape. Such projections support the understanding of, and selection of, plausible ranges of scenarios for use in post-closure safety assessments.
- Climate change
- Landscape development
- Post-closure safety assessments
- Solid radioactive waste disposal