, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 383-392,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Humans and Ecosystems Over the Coming Millennia: Overview of a Biosphere Assessment of Radioactive Waste Disposal in Sweden

Abstract

This is an overview of the strategy used to describe the effects of a potential release from a radioactive waste repository on human exposure and future environments. It introduces a special issue of AMBIO, in which 13 articles show ways of understanding and characterizing the future. The study relies mainly on research performed in the context of a recent safety report concerning a repository for spent nuclear fuel in Sweden (the so-called SR-Site project). The development of a good understanding of on-site processes and acquisition of site-specific data facilitated the development of new approaches for assessment of surface ecosystems. A systematic and scientifically coherent methodology utilizes the understanding of the current spatial and temporal dynamics as an analog for future conditions. We conclude that future ecosystem can be inferred from a few variables and that this multidisciplinary approach is relevant in a much wider context than radioactive waste.