The effect of increased winter rainfall on biological crusts and their implications for sandstone decay

Lee, M. and Wright, A. (2012) The effect of increased winter rainfall on biological crusts and their implications for sandstone decay. In: 2012 Stone Conference, Columbia University, NY, USA, 22-26 Oct 2012,

Full text not currently available from Enlighten.


<p>Rainfall trends for the UK show that some areas, including the west of Scotland, are experiencing an increase in both the amount and intensity of winter rain. Future changes to the climate are predicted to exacerbate this effect, creating significant potential problems for the integrity of the sandstone architecture that is a major feature of Scotland’s cultural heritage.</p> <p>Here we describe initial results from a suite of field and laboratory based studies designed to determine the impact of winter rainfall on the growth and loss of crusts on Scottish sandstone buildings. Monitoring of biological and pollutant crusts on existing structures, and under experimental conditions, will demonstrate how crusts develop in wet urban environments compared to those in drier, more rural regions. This approach should show whether elevated rainfall leads to an increase in biological activity and/or the development of complex biomineralic crusts. Conversely, increased rainfall may result in the preferential removal of these crusts, allowing the stonework to become ‘self-cleaning’, but potentially exacerbating degradation by exposing the stone beneath to other weathering agents.</p> <p>The impact of rainfall on biological crusts has important implications for the mechanisms and rates of sandstone decay and for the type and cost of strategies used to limit damage. If crusts are removed by winter rain, fewer resources will be needed to clean stone for aesthetic reasons. However, enhanced biological activity or degradation will increase financial costs for statutory and voluntary bodies responsible for the care of historic buildings. If the effects of winter rainfall are geographically constrained, it may be possible to offset these costs by concentrating preventative and/or remedial work in particular areas.</p>

Item Type:Conference Proceedings
Keywords:winter rainfall, biological crusts, sandstone decay
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Lee, Professor Martin and Wright, Dr Alison
Authors: Lee, M., and Wright, A.
Subjects:G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QE Geology
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences > Earth Sciences
Research Group:Earth Systems

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record