Climate change and the loss of organic archaeological deposits in the Arcti

The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the global average with overlooked consequences for the preservation of the rich cultural and environmental records that have been stored for millennia in archaeological deposits. This article investigates the oxic degradation of different types of
organic archaeological deposits located in different climatic zones in West and South Greenland. The archaeological deposits are highly vulnerable to degradation regardless of age, depositional and environmental conditions. Degradation rates of the deposits are more sensitive to increasing temperatures than natural soils and the process is accompanied by a high microbial heat production that correlates significantly with their total carbon content. The paper concludes that organic archaeology in the Arctic is facing a critical challenge that requires international action.

Credit: Jørgen Hollesen, Henning Matthiesen, Anders Bjørn Møller, Andreas Westergaard-Nielsen and Bo Elberling, Climate change and the loss of organic archaeological deposits in the Arctic originally published in Scientific Reports | 6:28690 | DOI: 10.1038/srep28690, 2016, Open Access publication