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, structural engineering, planning, and social and economic impact. The Atlas is a unique resource which helps cultural resource stewards in Europe plan for the effects of climate change, and serves as a model for similar research that can be conducted for cultural heritage sites worldwide.
The Atlas is divided into three parts: Maps, Guidelines, and Appendices. For Maps, five sets of research output were created:
- Climate maps of single climate parameters relevant to cultural heritage (e.g. annual precipitation amount, frost, wind driven rain)
- Heritage climate maps combining climate parameters to create maps of heritage-specific problems (e.g. salt crystallization frequency, wet-frost, biomass accumulation on monuments)
- Damage maps showing locations where damage is likely to occur (e.g. surface recession of low porosity carbonate stones, thermoclastism)
- Risk maps indicating areas with increasing or decreasing risk (e.g. climate induced decay of indoor wooden objects due to humidity shocks, moisture content of spruce wood wall)
- Thematic pages consisting of non-map displays of other types of damage (e.g. rainfalls driven landslides, blackening and rain-washing of cultural surfaces)
Maps are generated at high resolution (approximately 50km x 50km) and show thirty-year mean values for recent past (1961-1990), near future (2010-2039), and far future (2070-2099).
Guidelines facilitate use of the Atlas by describing aspects of climate change and European cultural heritage, management strategies, and avenues for future research. Appendices provide further detail on the weathering processes referenced in the Maps.