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Effects of solar UV radiation and climate change on biogeochemical cycling: interactions and feedbacks

Research output: Contribution to journalScientific review


Journal publication date2011
JournalPhotochemical and Photobiological Sciences
Number of pages19
Original languageEnglish


Solar UV radiation, climate and other drivers of global change are undergoing significant changes and models forecast that these changes will continue for the remainder of this century. Here we assess the effects of solar UV radiation on biogeochemical cycles and the interactions of these effects with climate change, including feedbacks on climate. Such interactions occur in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. While there is significant uncertainty in the quantification of these effects, they could accelerate the rate of atmospheric CO2 increase and subsequent climate change beyond current predictions. The effects of predicted changes in climate and solar UV radiation on carbon cycling in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems are expected to vary significantly between regions. The balance of positive and negative effects on terrestrial carbon cycling remains uncertain, but the interactions between UV radiation and climate change are likely to contribute to decreasing sink strength in many oceanic regions. Interactions between climate and solar UV radiation will affect cycling of elements other than carbon, and so will influence the concentration of greenhouse and ozone-depleting gases. For example, increases in oxygen-deficient regions of the ocean caused by climate change are projected to enhance the emissions of nitrous oxide, an important greenhouse and ozone-depleting gas. Future changes in UV-induced transformations of aquatic and terrestrial contaminants could have both beneficial and adverse effects. Taken in total, it is clear that the future changes in UV radiation coupled with human-caused global change will have large impacts on biogeochemical cycles at local, regional and global scales.

Bibliographic note

© Royal Society of Chemistry 2011

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