climate change emblem

The NPS Climate Change Response Strategy was published in September 2010 to give direction on how to address the impacts of climate change. Goals and objectives are described under four integrated components: Science, Adaptation, Mitigation, and Communication

Damage to cultural heritage from outdoor weathering  is a perpetual, ubiquitous challenge which  grows in complexity as cultural resource managers begin to recognize and anticipate impacts from climate change.  In the field of climatology, scientists have documented a pattern of global warming with broad and dire implications for all the earth–including our cultural heritage.   While climate change is most precisely understood as a long-term process, we can observe indicators of change in our environments today.  Cultural resources in the United States are already being faced with the following problems:

  • Flooding from increased precipitation
  • More frequent phase changes (for example: freeze/thaw cycling) over shorter periods of time
  • Extreme droughts and occasions of wildfire
  • Invasive species moving into formerly cooler climates
  • Erosion caused by storm surges in combination with rising sea levels
  • And more…

This page will serve as a collection of resources on how cultural resources and their managers across the globe are reacting and adjusting to climate change. Topics covered will include: mitigation of emissions, adaptation to new climates, and contribution to public knowledge on efficient energy use.

Map: Climate Change and Cultural Resources 

ImageNameDate
deteriorating walls of fort jeffersonClimate Change at Dry Tortugas

The following case study is part of a forthcoming NPS handbook on climate change entitled ”Climate Change and Cultural Resources: Impact Assessments and Case Studies.”  The original author is Caitlin Smith. Constructed on a spit of land off the southern tip of Florida, historic Fort Jefferson is the central cultural fea­ture of Dry Tortugas National Park. Of­ten ...

09/19/2013
Zuni Acoma Trail across the lava flowsClimate Change at El Malpais

El Malpais National Monument was established for resources associated with ancient lava flows in west-central New Mexico.  Artifacts of Zuni and Acoma nations dating from AD 800s to 1200s are located at El Malpais, including a Chaco-style great house, a great kiva, smaller pueblos, field houses, prehistoric reservoirs, and petrogylphs.  A number of archaeological sites ...

09/19/2013
RH OrtonClimate Change at El Morro

El Morro National Monument in New Mexico is the home of archaeological sites and inscriptions ranging in date from the 13th to 19th c., and a dramatic landscape characterized by Zuni Sandstone cliffs that rise 200 feet from the valley floor.   Use of the site began in the late 1200s when ancestors of Zuni Indians moved onto the outcropping, ...

09/18/2013
damage from water infiltration caused by wind-driven rain, aspetClimate Change at Saint-Gaudens

Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site contains the historic home, studios and gardens of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, a preeminent sculptor of the Gilded Era and primary member of the Cornish Art Colony.  The site’s main house was built circa 1800, and purchased by Charles C. Beamon in 1884. Beamon was an art patron who initiated the Cornish Art ...

09/16/2013
apple treeClimate Change and Cultural Landscapes

In April of 2013, the National Park Service Park Cultural Landscapes Program  gave a presentation which articulated the NPS Climate Change Response Strategy (CCRS) for Cultural Landscapes.  Following the CCRS, the cultural landscape response is divided into four strategies: science, mitigation, adaptation, and communication. Science Cultural Landscape managers are called to “use the best available scientific data and ...

09/11/2013
Beach ridges at cape krusenstern national monumentClimate Change at Cape Krusenstern

The following case study is part of a forthcoming NPS handbook on climate change entitled ”Climate Change and Cultural Resources: Impact Assessments and Case Studies.”  The original author is Caitlin Smith. In the far corner of northwestern Alaska, Cape Krusenstern National Monu­ment stands testament to some of the oldest evidence of human occupation of the North American ...

09/10/2013
Hubbard glacierClimate Change at Wrangell-St. Elias

The following case study is part of a forthcoming NPS handbook on climate change entitled ”Climate Change and Cultural Resources: Impact Assessments and Case Studies.”  The original author is Caitlin Smith. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve contains a wealth of natural and cultural resources, including significant groupings of Athabascan prehistoric and historic archeological sites. They include ...

09/09/2013
A loko kuapa (rockwall fishpond) at Kaloko-Honokohau NHP, NPS photoClimate Change at Kaloko-Honokohau

The following case study is part of a forthcoming NPS handbook on climate change entitled ”Climate Change and Cultural Resources: Impact Assessments and Case Studies.”  The original author is Caitlin Smith. Kaloko-Honokōhau National His­torical Park lies along the rugged western coastline of the Big Island of Hawai’i. Although the landscape is un­inhabited today, the park commemorates the ...

09/09/2013
Fort Baker in the fogClimate Change at Golden Gate

The following case study is part of a forthcoming NPS handbook on climate change entitled ”Climate Change and Cultural Resources: Impact Assessments and Case Studies.”  The original author is Caitlin Smith. Amidst the urban environment of San Francisco, Golden Gate National Recreation Area embodies a rich and di­verse cultural landscape chronicling over 200 years of American history. ...

09/09/2013
Tyuonyi and Talus House, photo courtesy of Sallie KingClimate Change at Bandelier

The following case study is part of a forthcoming NPS handbook on climate change entitled ”Climate Change and Cultural Resources: Impact Assessments and Case Studies.”  The original author is Caitlin Smith. In the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico, Bandelier National Monument stands as one of the rich­est collections of cultural history in the American Southwest. Bandelier’s ...

09/09/2013
wikiups vulnerable to fireClimate Change at Rocky Mountain

The following case study is part of a forthcoming NPS handbook on climate change entitled ”Climate Change and Cultural Resources: Impact Assessments and Case Studies.”  The original author is Caitlin Smith. With its lush valley meadows and craggy snow capped peaks, Rocky Mountain National Park is best known for its remarkable scenic beauty and mountain recreation. However, ...

09/09/2013
bank erosion on knife river photo courtesy of John Moeykens NPS photoClimate Change at Knife River Indian Villages

The following case study is part of a forthcoming NPS handbook on climate change entitled ”Climate Change and Cultural Resources: Impact Assessments and Case Studies.”  The original author is Caitlin Smith. At Knife River Indian Villages Na­tional Historic Site, the relationship between natural and cultural resources is fluid. As such, the effects of climate change on the ...

09/09/2013
ojibwe elderClimate Change at Apostle Islands

The following case study is part of a forthcoming NPS handbook on climate change entitled ”Climate Change and Cultural Resources: Impact Assessments and Case Studies.”  The original author is Caitlin Smith. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is composed of a 21-island archipelago and a portion of Wiscon­sin’s Bayfield Peninsula extending out into Lake Superior. The Islands are a ...

09/09/2013
gettysburgClimate Change at Gettysburg

The following case study is part of a forthcoming NPS handbook on climate change entitled ”Climate Change and Cultural Resources: Impact Assessments and Case Studies.”  The original author is Caitlin Smith. Battlefields represent an important in­terface between nature and culture in cultural landscapes. At Gettysburg National Military Park, preserving his­toric landscape features associated with historic events is ...

09/09/2013
284BB6E9-155D-451F-67E2CEF668D1F7A5-large[1]Climate Change at Assateague Island

The following case study is part of a forthcoming NPS handbook on climate change entitled ”Climate Change and Cultural Resources: Impact Assessments and Case Studies.”  The original author is Caitlin Smith. Assateague Island National Seashore represents one of the most vul­nerable sites for cultural resources on the Atlantic Coast. As a barrier island measuring only 46 feet ...

09/09/2013
CCIYHEnglish Heritage: Climate Change and Your Home

Climate Change and Your Home is a customizable web tool created by English Heritage that provides information on climate change, sustainability, and the UK’s government legislation on saving energy. While much of the site’s information is applicable to any historic home in England, it is also customizable for “traditionally built homes”: homes built with solid wall or ...

09/06/2013
SHARP1Scotland’s Coastal Heritage at Risk Project (SCHARP)

Scotland’s Coastal Heritage at Risk Project (SCHARP) is a three year venture created by Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion (SCAPE) to monitor impacts from coastal erosion in Scotland.  As threats of sea level rise and high storm intensity increase, SCAPE strives to document coastal archaeology while it still exists. SCHARP relies on public ...

09/06/2013
Getty Discusses Climate Change, Sustainability, and Cultural Heritage

In 2008 and 2011, the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) held panel discussions on climate change, sustainability, and cultural heritage.  Both panels present information on how cultural resource managers can help slow climate change, adapt resources to changing environments, and be a part of sustainable communities. Climate Change and Preserving Cultural Heritage in the 21st Century The first panel considers ...

08/28/2013
Atlas CoverAtlas of Climate Change

The final product of the research project Noah’s Ark: Global Climate Change Impact on Built Heritage and Cultural Landscapes has recently been published. Noah’s Ark, funded by the European Commission, is the premier effort to integrate cultural resource management with climate science research. Participants include experts in climate modeling, atmospheric chemistry, atmospheric physics, materials science, conservation, ...

08/21/2013
NPS Arrowhead LogoSample post

This is a sample excerpt

09/04/2012