Owsianiak, Mikolaj1; Hauschild, Michael Zwicky1; Rosenbaum, Ralph K.1
1 Department of Management Engineering, Technical University of Denmark2 Quantitative Sustainability Assessment, Department of Management Engineering, Technical University of Denmark
Soil properties show signifficant spatial variability at local, regional and continental scales. This is a challenge for life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) of metals, because fate, bioavailability and effect factors are controlled by environmental chemistry and can vary orders of magnitude for different soils. Here, variography is employed to analyse spatial variability of bioavailability factors (BFs) of metals at the global scale. First, published empirical regressions are employed to calculate BFs of metals for 7180 topsoil profiles. Next, geostatistical interpretation of calculated BFs is performed using ArcGIS Geostatistical Analyst. Results show that BFs of copper span a range of 6 orders of magnitude, and have signifficant spatial variability at local and continental scales. The model nugget variance is signifficantly higher than zero, suggesting the presence of spatial variability at lags smaller than those in the data set. Geostatistical analyses indicate however, that BFs exhibit no signifficant spatial correlation at a range beyond 3200 km. Because BF is spatially correlated, its values at unsampled locations can be predicted, as demonstrated using ordinary kriggin method. Similar approach can be employed for analyzing spatial variability of terrestrial ecotoxicity characterization factors of metals. Predicted maps can be used to provide a set of regionalized factors at spatial scales that are both scientifically relevant and practically feasible in LCIA.