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Climate change and coastal archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa: assessing past impacts and future threats

Climate change and coastal archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa: assessing past impacts and future threats
Climate change and coastal archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa: assessing past impacts and future threats
Climate change is a threat to coastal archaeology, with impacts resulting from storm flooding (Extreme Sea-Level: ESL), long-term sea-level rise (SLR) and coastal erosion. There remain large global gaps in baseline evidence, for instance in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). We present here a methodological demonstration and initial results from an assessment of climate change threats to the coastal heritage of the MENA region. This is based on the newly-developed Maritime Endangered Archaeology (MarEA) inventory which provides an up-to-date digital geospatial database of maritime archaeological sites from MENA incorporating as standard a disturbance and threat assessment. These data inform two analyses of past disturbance and future threat: 1) based directly on the integral threat/disturbance assessment and 2) geospatial extraction of information from existing models of coastal change (Global Surface Water, LISCoAsT, CoastalDEM90). These analyses suggest a small core of coastal sites (<5%) isdefinitely affected by coastal erosion. However, many more (up to 34% of the documented coastal record), may also have been affected by flooding, erosion or storm action in the recent past. More than 40–50% of coastal sites could be impacted by climate change-related processes in some form over the 21st Century. SLR and ESL could impact on 14–25% of sites by 2050 and 18–34% by 2100. Over 30% of coastal sites could be impacted by erosion by 2050 and over 40% by 2100. All climate change-related threats will also increase over the 21stCentury with a post-2050 acceleration, if carbon emissions remain high, and place considerable pressure on the unique coastal archaeological record. Whilst documentation is ongoing and there remain uncertainties in this modelling, these data and approaches provide a viable means to redress the frequent absence of baseline data on climate change impacts and coastal cultural heritage in the MENA region.
1556-4894
Westley, Kieran
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Andreou, Georgia
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El Safadi, Crystal
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Huigens, Harmen
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Nikolaus, Julia
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Ortiz Vazquez, Rodrigo
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Ray, Nick
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Smith, Ashley
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Tews, Sophie
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Blue, Lucy
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Breen, Colin
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Westley, Kieran
8a2c120d-53f8-4d89-b9d4-7f926b4e630e
Andreou, Georgia
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El Safadi, Crystal
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Huigens, Harmen
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Nikolaus, Julia
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Ortiz Vazquez, Rodrigo
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Ray, Nick
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Smith, Ashley
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Tews, Sophie
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Blue, Lucy
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Breen, Colin
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Westley, Kieran, Andreou, Georgia, El Safadi, Crystal, Huigens, Harmen, Nikolaus, Julia, Ortiz Vazquez, Rodrigo, Ray, Nick, Smith, Ashley, Tews, Sophie, Blue, Lucy and Breen, Colin (2021) Climate change and coastal archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa: assessing past impacts and future threats. The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology. (In Press)

Record type: Article

Abstract

Climate change is a threat to coastal archaeology, with impacts resulting from storm flooding (Extreme Sea-Level: ESL), long-term sea-level rise (SLR) and coastal erosion. There remain large global gaps in baseline evidence, for instance in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). We present here a methodological demonstration and initial results from an assessment of climate change threats to the coastal heritage of the MENA region. This is based on the newly-developed Maritime Endangered Archaeology (MarEA) inventory which provides an up-to-date digital geospatial database of maritime archaeological sites from MENA incorporating as standard a disturbance and threat assessment. These data inform two analyses of past disturbance and future threat: 1) based directly on the integral threat/disturbance assessment and 2) geospatial extraction of information from existing models of coastal change (Global Surface Water, LISCoAsT, CoastalDEM90). These analyses suggest a small core of coastal sites (<5%) isdefinitely affected by coastal erosion. However, many more (up to 34% of the documented coastal record), may also have been affected by flooding, erosion or storm action in the recent past. More than 40–50% of coastal sites could be impacted by climate change-related processes in some form over the 21st Century. SLR and ESL could impact on 14–25% of sites by 2050 and 18–34% by 2100. Over 30% of coastal sites could be impacted by erosion by 2050 and over 40% by 2100. All climate change-related threats will also increase over the 21stCentury with a post-2050 acceleration, if carbon emissions remain high, and place considerable pressure on the unique coastal archaeological record. Whilst documentation is ongoing and there remain uncertainties in this modelling, these data and approaches provide a viable means to redress the frequent absence of baseline data on climate change impacts and coastal cultural heritage in the MENA region.

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Accepted/In Press date: 28 July 2021

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 450627
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/450627
ISSN: 1556-4894
PURE UUID: 022cc951-573f-47a5-98cd-52dd71fb02a8
ORCID for Crystal El Safadi: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-6399-5875

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Date deposited: 05 Aug 2021 16:31
Last modified: 06 Aug 2021 01:48

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Contributors

Author: Kieran Westley
Author: Georgia Andreou
Author: Harmen Huigens
Author: Julia Nikolaus
Author: Nick Ray
Author: Ashley Smith
Author: Sophie Tews
Author: Lucy Blue
Author: Colin Breen

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