The EC BIOCLIM Project (2000-2003)
    5th Euratom Framework Programme
    - Modelling Sequential Biosphere Systems under Climate Change for Radioactive Waste Disposal -

    Marianne Calvez
    Andra, France

    3rd IGSC meeting (Integration group for safety case)
    24 oct. 2001, OECD/NEA, Paris, France

1. The BIOCLIM Project in Brief

The BIOCLIM project on modelling sequential BIOsphere systems under CLIMate change for radioactive waste disposal is part of the EURATOM fifth European framework programme. The project was launched in October 2000 for a three-year period. The project aims at providing a scientific basis and practical methodology for assessing the possible long term impacts on the safety of radioactive waste repositories in deep formations due to climate and environmental change.

Two complementary strategies (hierarchical/discrete and integrated/continuous) will provide representations of future climate changes for periods of up to the next million years. Global climate results will be downscaled to derive regional/local climates. Climate and vegetation will be simulated for various European areas. These results will be used to derive an understanding of the environments (i.e. the biosphere systems) through which radionuclides may migrate and lead to potential exposure of Man. Finally, these exposure and migration pathways will be described for selected biosphere systems using two different approaches: a discrete set of snapshots, as has typically been used in assessments to date, and a more innovative, continuous representation.

The project has the following objectives :

The final outcome will be an enhancement of the state-of-the-art treatment of biosphere system change over long periods of time through use of a number of innovative climate modelling approaches and the application of the climate model outputs in PAs.

The project is co-ordinated by ANDRA, Agence Nationale pour la Gestion des Déchets Radioactifs (France) and brings together a number of representatives from both European radioactive waste management organisations which have national responsibilities for the safe disposal of radioactive waste, either as disposers or regulators, and several highly experienced climate research teams (CEA/LSCE, NIREX, GRS, ENRESA, CIEMAT, UPM-ETSIMM, NRI, UCL/ASTR, EA, UEA, ENVIROS QuantiSci).

2. Background

The project has been initiated on the basis of the requirements of European waste management agencies to assess the feasibility and safety of radioactive waste repositories in geological formations, with regard to possible long-term impacts due to climate change. In addition to climate, the associated biosphere system may be subject to major change. Predictions over one million years cannot be considered as very reliable, however possible future evolution scenarios can be proposed, based on the past history of the climate system. Collaboration within the project by participants with different types of expertise will provide a robust scientific basis and practical results to demonstrate how climate and related environmental changes can be represented in radiological PAs.

3. Work Packages

The project is designed to advance the state-of-the-art of biosphere modelling for use in PAs via five work packages (WP).

WP 1 - Consolidation of the needs

The requirements of the European waste management agencies of the consortium will be consolidated and the current methods used to represent environmental change will be summarised by :

WP 2 - Hierarchical strategy

A hierarchy of climate models (Earth system Model of Intermediate Complexity, General Circulation Model and regional climate model) will be used to derive the environmental changes for selected discrete climatic situations (e.g. glacial and interglacial). Results will consist in climate and vegetation cover. Downscaling approaches will be developed and evaluated.

WP 3 - Integrated strategy

This strategy consists of building an integrated, dynamic climate model, representing all the mechanisms important for long-term climatic variations. The time-dependent results will be interpreted in terms of regional climate as well as vegetation changes using downscaling approaches.

WP 4 - Biosphere system description

The output from the climate models developed in WP 2 and 3 will be interpreted in terms of requirements of PA models, and in order to demonstrate how biosphere systems can be represented in the long-term. In particular, innovative guidance will be provided to represent a transitional biosphere system.

WP 5 - Final seminar

The methodologies and results obtained from the three year project will be disseminated within the international scientific/technical and waste management community for further use. All deliverables will be made publicly during the course of the project and a final seminar will be organised in October 2003.

4. Results

Several deliverables (D) will be produced among the five work packages (see table 1). As soon as finalised, they will be available on the BIOCLIM web site.

  • Mechanisms causing long-term climate change and environmental consequences. Summary of the methods currently used in PAs and lessons learned in their application (D1).
  • Narrative descriptions and summaries of palaeodata for the European regions of interest (D2).
  • Selection and justification of global climate scenarios for periods up to one million years (D3).
  • Global and European regional climate characteristics, output from discrete climate models at specific selected times (D4).
  • Global and European regional vegetation characteristics at specific selected times (D5).
  • Climate and vegetation characteristics for three regions within Western Europe derived using downscaling approaches (D6).
  • Scenarios for continuous climate evolution for one hundred thousand years or longer for Western Europe (D7).
  • Comparison of regional climate characteristics using downscaling approaches (D8).
  • Vegetation for the time scales of interest for the three regions within Western Europe (D9).
  • Approach to the application of long-term climate model outputs to discrete biosphere systems for the three regions and the time scales of interest (D10).
  • Methodology for addressing transitional biosphere systems (D11).
  • Reference biosphere system descriptions using discrete and transitional methods and approaches for developing relevant conceptual models for use in PAs (D12).
  • Proceedings of the final seminar, including results from climate model developments and the application of the different methods developed during the project for use in radiological PAs (D13).
Table 1. List of deliverables