Although there is some uncertainty in predicting future impacts of climate change, global and national scientific evidence suggests that the UK will be subjected to warmer and wetter winters, hotter and drier summers, rising air temperatures, increased storminess and heavier rainfall. These factors will contribute to an increase in the risk of significant pollutant linkages forming. As a result sources of contamination which currently pose little risk to the environment are likely to become significant in the future.
Climate change may lead to a requirement for more robust adaptation strategies for the sustainable development of contaminated and brownfield sites.
The impacts of climate change may include:
- Pollution control measures may be compromised; for example containment barriers may fail.
- Pollutant linkages may be strengthened or brownfield sites may develop new significant pollutant linkages; for example through increased soil erosion.
- The rate of natural attenuation or bioremediation may change.
- The mobility and volatility of certain organic contaminants in the ground will be affected by higher ground temperatures.
These impacts will also be affected by the vegetation on the site, which in-turn will be subject to potential ecological adaptation as a result of climate change.