Climate Change Impacts on Cultural Resources

Climate change is a global phenomenon that will affect, directly or indirectly, most aspects of human societies, including cultural resources. Cultural resources managed by the National Park Service (NPS) include archeological sites, cultural landscapes, ethnographic resources, museum collections, and historic buildings and structures. These resources have always been subject to environmental forces. Climate change presents new risks for cultural resources as environmental forces become more extreme, recombine, and change. The impacts from these changes pose an especially acute problem for managing cultural resources as these resources are unique, have strong ties to place, and risk loss of integrity if moved or altered. Cultural resources are also in large part non-living and non-reproducing; once lost, they are lost forever.