Action 'needed to save archaeological sites threatened by rising seas'

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Washington, Oct 28 (ANI): Scientists have issued call to action for archaeological sites threatened by rising seas.

Should global warming cause sea levels to rise as predicted in coming decades, thousands of archaeological sites in coastal areas around the world will be lost to erosion.

With no hope of saving all of these sites, archaeologists Torben Rick from the Smithsonian Institution, Leslie Reeder of Southern Methodist University, and Jon Erlandson of the University of Oregon have issued a call to action for scientists to assess the sites most at risk.

The researchers illustrate how quantifiable factors such as historical rates of shoreline change, wave action, coastal slope and shoreline geomorphology can be used to develop a scientifically sound way of measuring the vulnerability of individual archaeological sites.

They then proposed developing an index of the sites most at risk so informed decisions can be made about how to preserve or salvage them.

Urban development, the researchers point out, also is a significant threat to the loss of archaeological data.

Coastlines have long been magnets of human settlement and contain a rich array of ancient archaeological sites, many of which have never been excavated and urban development is projected to remain high in coastal areas, representing a significant danger to undisturbed sites.

Increasing threats from modern urban development, sea level rise and global warming are poised to increase this steady pattern of alteration and destruction.

"We must find ways to act. By quantifying those sites most vulnerable to destruction, we take a first step toward mitigating the loss of archaeological data and the shared cultural patrimony they contain," said the researchers.

The study is published in the Journal of Coastal Conservation. (ANI)

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