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Climate change and the preservation of archaeological sites in Greenland

Jørgen Hollesen and Rasmus Fenger-Nielsen from University of Copenhagen give a talk about the effects of climate change on archaeological sites

2016.12.01 | Susanna Pakkasmaa

Date Fri 09 Dec
Time 13:00 14:00
Location Aarhus University, Ny Munkegade114, building 1540, meeting room 229

Coastal erosion threatens archaeological sites in the Arctic. Photo Matthew Walsh, ARC.

Archaeological sites in Greenland represent an irreplaceable record of extraordinarily well-preserved material remains covering more than 4000 years of human history. Out of the more than 6000 registered sites very few have been excavated and it is anticipated that thousands of sites are still to be discovered in the many unexplored parts of the country. Therefore, the potential of archaeological sites in Greenland to provide further spectacular findings is considered extremely high. However, the climate is changing rapidly in Greenland leading to accelerated degradation of the archaeological sites.

Since 2009, the National Museums of Denmark and Greenland and the University of Copenhagen have been collaborating in order to understand the link between climate change and the preservation of archaeological sites in Greenland.

This presentation will give examples on how permafrost thaw, coastal erosion and increased vegetation are affecting archaeological sites in Greenland. It will show results from decay studies where the responses of different organic materials to environmental changes have been investigated. The researchers will also present the new project “Remains of Greenland” and elaborate on how they aim to develop new methods for locating sites at risk using both high tech solutions (Remote sensing, UAV and GIS models) and low tech solutions where local residents are involved in surveys and excavations.

Arctic Research Centre