Observed and projected changes in the climate based decay hazard of timber in the United Kingdom

IRG/WP 20-20665

S F Curling, G A Ormondroyd

The risk of microbiological attack on wood is determined by both material and climatic factors and indeed the hazard for a component is based on its intrinsic durability and the conditions in which it is used. The use of wood and organic materials in construction is increasing but ultimately all these materials will be susceptible to microbiological attack. The Scheffer Climate index applies climatic variables such as temperature and wetting time to assess hazard zones within geographical areas. A changing and variable climate e.g. an increase in heavy but short duration rain events, may have an effect on the incidence or severity of microbiological attack and with the increase in the use of timber this could have significant impact on buildings and construction. This paper shows a significant increase in the Scheffer climate indices for various locations of the UK from 1990 to 2019. The highest index values are seen in the Northern and western areas of the United Kingdom, but increases are seen across the country. The paper also uses representative concentration pathway (RCP) scenarios to project future climate decay indices for the United Kingdom until the end of the 21st century. The projections show a significant increase in the climate decay index even in the lowest RCP scenario, with all regions of the UK moving to index values indicating a very high hazard based on climatic conditions

Keywords: decay hazard, Scheffer climate index, climate change

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