sea levels rise, shorelines, homes, and cities will start flooding more
frequently. But mitigation and adaptation strategies to deal with a
changing climate that involves rising seas sometimes leave out plans for
everything else in between.
A study published in PLOS One
on Wednesday examined the impact rising sea levels will have on
historical and archaeological sites, specifically those in the
southeastern part of the United States.
The researchers involved
found that the 1 meter of sea level rise will leave more than 13,000
archeological sites, that they classified as historic and prehistoric,
under water. Not including an additional 1,000 or more sites that are
eligible National Register of Historic Places
sites that will also be, said the study
of when exactly sea level rise will reach a meter tend to vary. But by
2100, somewhere between 0.2 and 2 meters of sea-level rise is expected, according to NASA projections
reason for the wide range is that it’s difficult for researchers to
predict emissions related to human activity, or the forcing that will
happen to cause rise like sea ice melt. Climate models show that in a
“business as usual” scenario, meaning emissions stay on track as-is,
about a meter or so of sea level rise is expected by the end of the
century, the authors of the study wrote
Aside from those sites that will be submerged and lost due to flooding, the authors of the study also pointed out
that historic locations will be altered by the relocation of those
people who will be forced to flee their homes in low-lying areas and on
the coast. To make their conclusions they examined the elevation and
proximity to the coast along with projected rise of the historic sites
in nine states along the southeast coast of the U.S. as well as along
the Gulf of Mexico. There were more than 5,500 sites at or below sea
level sites that would likely be the first to flood, with those
lower-lying sites flooding soon thereafter.
suggest that creating and completing databases that could house
information on when sites might flood and what was being done to protect
them. The hope is that such databases will increase sample size and
allow archaeologists and land managers to better prepare.
what will be needed is a commitment, like that last seen in the Great
Depression, to document that which will be lost if the effects of sea
level rise are not mitigated,” the authors of the study wrote
even suggested buildings barriers around, or even moving, historic
sites like the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials in Washington, D.C. to
save them from rising sea level.