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A qualitative risk assessment for the impacts of climate change on nationally and internationally important geoheritage sites in Scotland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

Rachel M. L. Wignall, John E. Gordon, Vanessa Brazier, Colin C. J. MacFadyen, Nick S. Everett

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Abstract

Climate change is a significant concern for nature conservation in the 21 st century. One of the goals of the 2014 Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme is to identify the consequences of climate change for protected areas and to put in place adaptation or mitigation measures. As a contribution to the process, this paper develops a methodology to identify the relative level of risk to nationally and internationally important geological and geomorphological sites in Scotland from the impacts of climate change. The methodology is based on existing understanding of the likely responses of different types of geosite to specific aspects of climate change, such as changes in rainfall, rising sea levels or increased storminess, and is applied to assess the likelihood of damaging impacts on groups of similar geoheritage features in sites with similar characteristics. The results indicate that 80 (8.8%) of the ∼900 nationally and internationally important geoheritage sites in Scotland are at ‘high’ risk from climate change. These include active soft-sediment coastal and fluvial features, finite Quaternary sediment exposures and landforms in coastal and river locations, active periglacial features, sites with palaeoenvironmental records, finite or restricted rock exposures and fossils. Using this risk-based assessment, development of indicative geoheritage climate-change actions have been prioritised for these sites. Depending on the characteristics of the sites, management options may range from ‘do nothing’ to rescue excavations and posterity recording. Monitoring is an essential part of the management process to trigger evidence-based interventions.
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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-134
JournalProceedings of the Geologists' Association
Volume129
Issue number2
Early online date2 Mar 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018

    Research areas

  • Geosites, Climate change, Risk assessment, Geoheritage, Geoconservation, Geodiversity

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ID: 253087124