Sea Level Rise Could Swallow 13000 Archeological Sites In US

Posted: Dec 1 2017, 6:14am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Sea Level Rise Could Swallow 13000 Archeological Sites in US
Credit: Anderson et al., 2017

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Researchers predict that hundreds of archaeological sites in the southeast US alone may be submerged with a 1 meter rise in sea-level

More than 13000 archeological and historic sites on southeastern United States could be submerged by the end of the century, according to a new study published by a researcher from University of Tennessee.

The landscapes and monuments on coastlines are at significant risk from rising sea levels resulting from global warming. At the current rate of global warming, sea level is projected to continue rising as much as 1 meter per by 2100. If we do nothing to curb or reduce our burning of fossil fuel, the sea-level rise could destroy a vast number of archaeological sites on US coastline. The Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the southeastern United States will particularly hit hard by rising seas.

"It is clear that small increases in sea level will have great consequences on the coastal archaeological record," said study lead author David Anderson of the University of Tennessee. "Sea-level rise will result in the loss of much of the record of human habitation of the coastal margin in the Southeast within the next one to two centuries."

To study the phenomena, researchers analyzed data from the Digital Index of North American Archaeology (DINAA). DINAA is a national archeological database that has been developed over the past century from numerous sources. The data set provides a uniquely comprehensive window into human settlement and can be used for research and management purposes.

In the latest effort, researchers utilized the data to give a precise estimate of the impact of sea level rise on archeological sites across US. Researchers predict that over 13,000 recorded archaeological sites in the southeast alone could go underwater with a 1 m rise in sea-level, including settlements on Jamestown, Virginia, Charleston and Cape Canaveral.

The findings will not only allow accurate forecast but also help make better public policy decisions about the consequences of rapid climate change and extreme weather events.

David Anderson says. “Sea-level rise in the coming years will destroy vast numbers of archaeological sites, buildings, cemeteries, and cultural landscapes. Developing informatics capabilities at regional and continental scales like DINAA (Digital Index of North American Archaeology) is essential if we are to effectively plan for, and help mitigate, this loss of human history."

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