Nordic project protects culture from climate change

disko-bayA new Nordic project with the lengthy title “The effects of climate change on cultural artefacts and cultural environments” is attempting to find ways to prevent impending climate change from destroying culture heritage sites in the Nordic region. Led by the Norwegian State Archives, the project will focus on vulnerable sites like Ilulissat, Greenland.

As glaciers melt, temperatures increase and strong winds blow across the Nordic lands, this change in climate will dramatically impact preserved buildings, monuments and key cultural sites. Sermitsiaq reports that in Greenland the rising temperatures have already affected the permafrost in Disko Bay.

“This is where we have one of our finest cultural areas, dating back over 4,000 years and with traces and evidence of the first people in Greenland,” said Anne Norgard Jorgensen, an archaeologist with Denmark’s Natural Heritage committee. “The permafrost helps to preserve these things, and if it thaws we will simply lose those parts of Greenland’s cultural heritage.”

The project, whose goal is to find ways to limit the damage caused by climate change in the Nordics, was started in 2008. Research and a report of the findings should be completed by 2010, but project leaders will present the preliminary findings at a Nordic conference in Oslo this November.

Jorgensen admits it’s impossible to blame climate change exclusively for the deterioration of areas of cultural value. “But we can see that the climate affects cultural heritage through, among other things, coastal erosion, storm deposits and increased humidity,” she said.

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