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Climate Change and Cultural Resources

by Christopher Corey, Associate State Archaeologist

Cultural Resources of California State Parks are being threatened from the effects of Global Climate Change that is already underway. As the climate is disrupted by human activities, scientists feel that winter storms are likely to become more frequent and powerful. Wildfires, often projected to occur in conjunction with climate change, will increase the potential threat to museums and their artifacts, as well as cultural landscapes, historic structures, and prehistoric sites and features. State Parks along California's coastlines could see the effects of a projected rise in the level of the oceans, and subsequently affecting archaeological sites located near the shore. The online links provided below are to assist professionals who manage culturally important resources with information to help minimize the effects of climate change. 

Visit Governor Brown's Climate Change Just The Facts Website


Featured Links:

Global warming seen as threat to state's parks
Stunted redwoods, flooded campgrounds and a mighty waterfalls reduced to a trickle. Those are a few of the dire consequences facing 10 California parks over the next century because of rapidly changing climate patterns, according to a new study by an environmental think tank. San Francisco Chronicle, October 2010

National Parks in Peril: The Threats of Climate Change
Human disruption of the climate is the greatest threat ever to our national parks. This report focuses primarily on 25 national parks that we identify as having the greatest vulnerabilities to human-caused climate change. They face 11 different types of risks. National Resources Defense Council, October 2009

Climate Change and Cultural DynamicsMiddle Holocene Change Population Dispersal Western North America
Douglas Kennett, et al.  The authors hypothesize that population dispersal from the desert interior was primarily in response to severe and prolonged drought and that people moved selectively to coastal and aquatic habitats because of the ameliorated effects of drought and their overall productivity.  From Climate Change and Cultural Dynamics: A Global Perspective on Mid-Holocene Transitions, edited by Donald Anderson, Kirk Maasch and Daniel Sandweiss. Academic Press, 2007.

Getty Foundation:  Climate Change and Preserving Cultural Heritage
in the 21st Century

Professionals in the cultural heritage sector are more recent arrivals to the debate on global warming but there is a growing urgency to document the ways climate change affects our historic built environment, and to implement preventive and corrective actions. Use the link above to visit the Getty website and view project videos.


National Parks

Subject and Synopsis:           
Point Reyes: Climate Change Threatens Cultural Resources
Web Address:                        
http://www.nps.gov/pore/naturescience/climatechange_culturalresources.htm
Publisher:                              National Park Service Website
Date Published:                     June 2007

Subject and Synopsis:          
Rocky Mountains Climate Threats to 400 prehistoric and 600 historic sites
Web Address:                       
http://rockymountainclimate.org/release_parks_report.htm
Publisher:                              Rocky Mountain Climate Website
Date Published:                     July 2006

Subject and Synopsis:           
National Park Service and Global Climate Change: An Overview
Web Address:                       
http://www.nativescience.org/assets/Documents/Nutrition%20and%20Food/NtlPkSvcglobalchange.pdf
Publisher:                              National Park Service
Date Published:                      July 2002

Subject and Synopsis:          
National Parks Science Scholars Research on Climate Change
Web Address:                       
http://home.nps.gov/applications/release/Detail.cfm?ID=226
Publisher:                              National Park Service
Date Published:                      February 2002



Native Americans

Subject and Synopsis:          
Drastic Effects of Climate Change on Tribal Communities
Web Address:                       
http://www.indianz.com/News/2007/004965.asp
Publisher:                              Indianz Website
Date Published:                     September 2007

Subject and Synopsis:          
Vulnerabilities and Adaptive Strategies in the Far North
Web Address:                       
http://www.pacificworlds.com/ipsg/aagweb07/abstracts/3236abs.html
Publisher:                              Pacific Worlds Website: Indigenous Peoples Specialty Group
Date Published:                      April 2007

Subject and Synopsis:          
Rural Development Program Seminar: Whale of a Time
Web Address:                       
http://www.nps.gov/akso/cr/akrcultural/WhaleofaTime.htm
Publisher:                              National Parks Service Alaska Regional Office Cultural Resources
Date Published:                      April 2006

Subject and Synopsis:          
US National Educational Resources Paper: Native Peoples and Native Homelands
Web Address:                        
http://www.usgcrp.gov/usgcrp/nacc/education/native/native-edu-2.htm
Publisher:                              US Global Change Research Program
Date Published:                      October 2003



Arcaheological Palynology

Subject and Synopsis:           
Archaeological Palynology: Influence Climate Change Vegetation Human Behavior
Web Address:                       
http://www.geo.arizona.edu/palynology/arch_pal.html
Publisher:                              University of Arizona, Geosciences Department
Date Published:                      2007



World Heritage

Subject and Synopsis:           
Effects of Climate Change on World Heritage
Web Address:                       
http://whc.unesco.org/uploads/news/documents/news-262-1.doc
Publisher:                               World Heritage Centre: UN Ed, Scientific/Cultural Organization
Date Published:                      2006



Holocene Climate Change Articles

Subjectand Synopsis:            
Human Response to Mid-Holocene Climate Change on California’s Channel Islands
Web Address:                       
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/02773791
Publisher/Author:                   Quaternary Science Vol 26, Issue 3-4, 351-367/ Doug J. Kennett et.al.
Date Published:                      Quaternary Science, February 2007

Subject and Synopsis:            
Effects of Holocene Climate Change on Demography of Migrating Hawks
Web Address:                       
http://www.sonoma.edu/users/g/girman/HullandGirman2005.pdf
Publisher:                               Molecular Ecology Journal
Date Published:                      2005

Subject and Synopsis:            
Extreme Late Holocene Climate Change in Coastal Southern California
Web Address:                        
http://www.pcas.org/Vol35N23/3523Boxt.pdf
Publisher:                               Pacific Coast Archaeological Society
Date Published:                       PCAS Quarterly, 35(2 & 3), Spring and Summer, 1999

Subject and Synopsis:            
Extreme and persistent drought in California and Patagonia during Mediaeval time
Web Address:                         
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v369/n6481/abs/369546a0.html
Publisher/Author:                     Nature Magazine/  Scott Stine
Date Published:                       June 1994



Climate Impacts Group:


The Climate Impacts Group (CIG) is an interdisciplinary research group studying the impacts of natural climate variability and global climate change (“global warming”) on the U.S. Pacific Northwest (PNW). Through research and interaction with regional stakeholders, CIG works to increase the resilience of the Pacific Northwest to fluctuations in climate.  Visit CIG Website: Climate Impacts Group: University of Washington


 Use the link below to go to the California Climate Change Portal.
Visit the California Climate Change Portal

Download Printable PDF of Links:  Climate Change and Cultural Resources