Preserving Cultural Heritage from the impacts of climate change: from risks and impacts to adaptation plans

Climate change is having an increasing impact on cultural heritage due to the increasing temperatures as well as a number of climate risks such as floods associated with extreme weather events, forest fires, drought and erosion, sea-level rise, and heat waves. In this paper, the impacts of climate change on tangible cultural heritage will be discussed in conjunction with the risks above and in view of developing adaptation plans.

In support of the latter, terms such as exposure, sensitivity, adaptive capacity, and finally, the vulnerability of archaeological sites will be examined along with the capacity of climate modeling to estimate impacts on cultural heritage and the potential of intangible cultural heritage to contribute to the shaping of an adaptation plan, by means of the capacities and traditions of local societies. In addition, a discussion will be made on the importance of multi-criteria systems encompassing various scientific disciplines, such as climate science, environmental physics, chemistry, biology, geology, archaeology, and others.

A case study will be presented for an archaeological site enlisted in the World Heritage List of UNESCO, namely Ancient Olympia. Recommendations for the integration of cultural heritage into international and European Union policies will be discussed accordingly.