EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Climate change: a threat to underwater cultural heritage

Elena Pérez Álvaro
Elena Pérez Álvaro
  • Nelson Mandela University, Institute for Coastal and Marine Research, Gqeberha, South Africa (

Predictions forecast changes in climate that may affect cultural heritage in the future. Not only the underwater cultural heritage will become exposed, but also our land tangible cultural heritage will be submerged: entire nations and their cultural heritage may disappear, losing their identity as nations, countries, and communities. In fact, climate change has the potential to increase the sea level enough by 2100 to inundate 136 sites considered by UNESCO as cultural and historical treasures.

This presentation will examine the specific climate changes that oceans will most likely suffer and how they will probably affect tangible underwater cultural heritage, analysing how the changes will affect every possible material that can be found in a submerged archaeological site. It will also explore cases of heritage that are already suffering the consequences examining two future scenarios: how climate change may disturb underwater cultural heritage, and how land cultural heritage may change its label and subsequently become underwater cultural heritage. Lastly, the presentation will propose a new partnership natural/cultural resources and the qualification of cultural heritage as a natural resource for its preservation, establishing the same common measures for both heritage against climate change.

How to cite: Pérez Álvaro, E.: Climate change: a threat to underwater cultural heritage, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-107,, 2022.