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Life Cycle Impact Assessment of Terrestrial Acidification: Modeling Spatially Explicit Soil Sensitivity at the Global Scale

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journal contribution
posted on 07.08.2012, 00:00 by Pierre-Olivier Roy, Louise Deschênes, Manuele Margni
This paper presents a novel life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) approach to derive spatially explicit soil sensitivity indicators for terrestrial acidification. This global approach is compatible with a subsequent damage assessment, making it possible to consistently link the developed midpoint indicators with a later endpoint assessment along the cause-effect chaina prerequisite in LCIA. Four different soil chemical indicators were preselected to evaluate sensitivity factors (SFs) for regional receiving environments at the global scale, namely the base cations to aluminum ratio, aluminum to calcium ratio, pH, and aluminum concentration. These chemical indicators were assessed using the PROFILE geochemical steady-state soil model and a global data set of regional soil parameters developed specifically for this study. Results showed that the most sensitive regions (i.e., where SF is maximized) are in Canada, northern Europe, the Amazon, central Africa, and East and Southeast Asia. However, the approach is not bereft of uncertainty. Indeed, a Monte Carlo analysis showed that input parameter variability may induce SF variations of up to over 6 orders of magnitude for certain chemical indicators. These findings improve current practices and enable the development of regional characterization models to assess regional life cycle inventories in a global economy.