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U.S. Archaeological Sites Threatened by Sea Level Rise

Thursday, November 30, 2017

sea level riseKNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE—David Anderson of the University of Tennessee and a team of researchers analyzed data from the Digital Index of North American Archaeology (DINAA) in order to evaluate the possible effect of rising sea levels on archaeological and historical sites, according to a Live Science report. DINAA aggregates archaeological and historical data collected over the past century from numerous sources, including state and federal agencies. “We will lose much of the record of the last several thousand years of human occupation in coastal areas, where a great deal of history and settlement has occurred,” he said. The study found that an estimated rise in sea levels of about three feet in the next century could damage or submerge more than 13,000 archaeological and historical sites located on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the southeastern United States, including the English settlement site at Jamestown, Virginia, and other cultural landmarks in Charleston, South Carolina, and St. Augustine, Florida. Continuing sea level rise in the following centuries could put an estimated 32,000 sites at risk. “When you develop tools showing how much will be lost at regional and continental scales, it shows the scale of the challenge and the need to start seriously planning for it,” Anderson said. For more on archaeology and climate change, go to “Letter from Norway: The Big Melt.”

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