Climate change impacts on cultural heritage: Facing the challenge

Brimblecombe Peter

Emeritus Professor, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK

Professor Dr Peter Brimblecombe

I was born in Australia, but went to university in Auckland, New Zealand where my PhD concerned atmospheric chemistry of sulphur dioxide. I remain interested in atmospheric chemistry and currently work on the thermodynamics of aerosols, particularly water soluble organic substances. My studies of long-term changes in urban air pollution and its effects on health and building damage are also an important activity: the historical aspects of subject resulted in my book, The Big Smoke. This encouraged an interest in the relationship between air pollution and architecture, literature and even cinema. My research on material damage by air pollutants has not been restricted to outdoor environments. I have worked on the museum atmosphere and have a continuing interest in the process of damage to cultural materials by air pollutants. I have increasingly co-operated with conservators in the National Trust, English Heritage and Historic Royal Palaces on management issues; focussing on accumulation of dust, but have become also become interested in the effect of climate change on heritage, with recent work focussing on the changing potential for insect damage. My current interest in air pollution relates to human exposure in the urban environment. The practical context of my research work means that I am frequently an invited speaker at conferences, interviewed by the media and teach on advanced courses.

In 2005 I received a gold medal from the Italian Chemical Society for my contributions in environmental and heritage chemistry. I am currently Chair Professor in the School of Energy and Environment at City University of Hong Kong and a emeritus professor to the School of Environmental Sciences of the University of East Anglia.


Academic career

1973-4 Lecturer in inorganic chemistry at the School of Natural Resources of the University of the South Pacific, FIJI

1974-2013 Lecturer and then Professor in Atmospheric Chemistry at the School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, UK (Associate Dean 2008-2011).

2013- 2018 Chair Professor in Environmental Chemistry at the School of Energy and Environment, City University of Hong Kong (subsequently a visitor)


External Panels

I have served on European Commission working parties related to heritage within DG Environment and on proposal review panels within DG Research of the EU and more recently Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department. I advise on environmental science programs in Hong Kong, China, France and Saudi Arabia.


In 2005 I was awarded the Società Chimica Italiana Gold Medal for my work in environmental and heritage chemistry. In 2009 our Noah's Ark project, which has mapped future climate impacts on heritage, won the Europa Nostra Grand Prize for research.

Education at University of Auckland, New Zealand

BSc Chemistry1967-70
MSc Chemistry, 1970-71
PhD Chemistry1971-73

Recent Publications relevant to the project

Xing, Y., Brimblecombe, P. (2018) Dispersion of traffic derived air pollutants into urban parks, Science of the Total Environment, 622-623, pp. 576-583.

Lai, Y., Brimblecombe, P. (2017) Regulatory effects on particulate pollution in the early hours of Chinese New Year, 2015, Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 189 (9), art. no. 467,

Wang, T., Xue, L., Brimblecombe, P., Lam, Y.F., Li, L., Zhang, L. (2017) Ozone pollution in China: A review of concentrations, meteorological influences, chemical precursors, and effects, Science of the Total Environment, 575, pp. 1582-1596

Lee, C.-L., Brimblecombe, P. (2016)Anthropogenic contributions to global carbonyl sulfide, carbon disulfide and organosulfides fluxes, Earth-Science Reviews, 160, pp. 1-18.

Yeh, C.-F., Lee, C.-L., Brimblecombe, P., Lai, I.-C. (2015) Markers of East Asian dust storms in March 2010 Atmospheric Environment 118, , pp. 219-226.

Brimblecombe, P., Townsend, T., Lau, C.F., Rakowska, A., Chan, T.L., Močnik, G., Ning, Z.(2015) Through-tunnel estimates of vehicle fleet emission factors, Atmospheric Environment, 123 . 180-189.

Brimblecombe, P., Ning, Z. (2015) Effect of road blockages on local air pollution during the Hong Kong protests and its implications for air quality management Science of the Total Environment 536, pp. 443-448.

Lau, C.F., Rakowska, A., Townsend, T., Brimblecombe, P., Chan, T.L, Yam, Y.S.,Močnik, G., Ning, Z (2015) Evaluation of diesel fleet emissions and control policies fromplume chasing measurements of on-road vehicles Atmospheric Environment 122, , pp. 171-182.

Yang, F., Kaul, D., Wong, K.C., Westerdahl, D., Sun, L., Ho, K.-F., Tian, L.,Brimblecombe, P., Ning, Z. (2015) Heterogeneity of passenger exposure to air pollutants in public transport microenvironments, Atmospheric Environment, 109, pp. 42-51.