Impacts of climate change on cultural heritage. The development of Delos environmental monitoring facility

Delos represents a unique combination of globally significant monuments, both cultural and natural heritage, and is already included in the UNESCO World Heritage List of cultural monuments. This area is subject to a combination of risks due to climate change and due to the influence of geophysical phenomena, both on the monuments themselves and on the broader environment.

In this frame, the Academy of Athens took the initiative to implement an environmental monitoring facility on the island of Delos. This pilot program is funded by the Initiative ’21 and aims ultimately to be applied to other monuments in Greece and abroad with the support of international organizations (e.g., UNESCO, ICOMOS, Europa Nostra, etc.).

As part of the project, an integrated system is developed for the monitoring of risks faced by the monuments and the natural environment of Delos from intense atmospheric, oceanographic, and seismic phenomena. This system combines the use of data from numerical models with observations from satellites as well as from a network of ground instruments that will carry out seismic, oceanographic, and atmospheric measurements on the island of Delos.

Here we present the main features of the Delos environmental facility and first results from the obtained data and scientific analysis. This effort aims to address policies and strategies for sustainable development in the economy, tourism, and culture, and present a paradigm for increasing the resilience of cultural heritage to natural hazards and risks.