Saturday, October 27, 2018

Historic Sites Face Risk from Rising Seas

Venice has been at hazard from rising seas for years.  But so now are almost all historic sites near Mediterranean coasts, a survey finds.

Some of the planet’s most historic sites could by 2100 face damage or outright destruction in a warming world.  Scientists who surveyed 49 World Heritage Sites in the Mediterranean report that 47 of them are at some degree of risk from future sea level rise.

As ever-higher levels of carbon dioxide enter the atmosphere to warm the planet, so global sea levels creep ever higher.  And this constant threat of attrition by ever-higher tides and storm surges poses an ever-higher risk to a suite of cities, sites, and ruins declared by UNESCO, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, to be of global importance, and in need of careful preservation.

The locations most at risk include the city of Venice, the medieval city of Rhodes, the old city of Dubrovnik, and the ruins of Carthage in Tunisia.

The researchers considered the hazard of what is now a once-in-a-century storm surge occurring, as the seas rise by almost 1.5 meters by 2100.  By then, they found, storm surges that now occur once a century could be happening several times every year.

“Many of these heritage sites will slowly disappear with sea level rise, even though these sites are important parts of human history”

Increasingly, coastal flooding and erosion could damage, deface or completely obliterate landmarks that played a pivotal role in world history.  All the sites have important intangible value as icons of civilization; many of them are popular tourist destinations, and their disappearance could only mean huge economic losses as well.

Such studies are launched to alert governments, civic authorities, and communities to the need for action.  Venice, in particular, has been a subject of national and international concern for decades.  The surprise in the latest research, in the journal Nature Communications, is that of the 49 sites investigated, 37 are vulnerable to storm surge, 42 to coastal erosion − and many of them to both.

Read more at Historic Sites Face Risk from Rising Seas

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