Threats to Cultural Heritage Caused by the Global Sea Level Rise as a Result of the Global Warming
1.1. Threats to Cultural Heritage
1.2. Scenarios of Global Sea Level Rise
1.3. System of Monument Protection in Poland
- Urban (urban and rural systems, districts, squares, and streets as urban interiors, protection zones, canals, railways, and others);
- Sacral (churches of different religions, monasteries, belfries, chapels, morgues, roadside shrines, sacral statues, and others);
- Defensive (castles, residential towers, defensive buildings, city walls and gates, fortresses and their elements, forts, and others);
- Public (public buildings, seats of government, schools, banks, postal offices, hotels, theatres and cinemas, barracks and prisons, train stations, hospitals, administrative buildings, and others);
- Mansions (village and city palaces, residential units, and others);
- Greenery (palace and mansion parks, gardens, city parks, avenues, villas and home gardens, elements of natural landscapes, and others);
- Farm (farm buildings, all individual farm buildings in rural homesteads, granaries, barns, warehouses, and others);
- Residential (residential buildings, houses, tenements, rural huts, vicarages and presbyteries, and others);
- Industrial (industrial buildings, production halls in factory units, engine houses, boiler rooms, shaft towers in mines, single-production buildings, forges, mills, windmills, water towers, bridges and viaducts, power plants, gas and water supply plants, and others);
- Cemeteries (cemeteries, single graves, church areas, and others);
- Miscellaneous (fences, gates and guardhouses, statues, fountains and wells, small park architecture, and others).
1.4. Aim and Motivation for Undertaking the Study
2. Materials and Methods
- Gathering the necessary spatial data for the case-study area. Acquisition of polygon data representing the boundaries of the study area (data from the Polish National Register of Borders ) and point data representing the location of cultural heritage sites (data from The National Heritage Board of Poland).
- Determining the parameters of the optimal elevation data source to perform the assumed analyses.
- Assessing available elevation data sources.
- Selecting the optimal source to perform the assumed analyses.
- Performing threat assessments of cultural heritage sites in the chosen case study area, under selected global sea level rise scenarios.
- Data should be free of charge—charging for access to spatial data can be a serious barrier for a large share of users, especially those without outside funding. Therefore, the optimal situation is no data fee.
- Registration to a hosting service does not have to be required—this parameter is a nuisance to working with data and does not affect the research process too much; nevertheless, the optimal situation is that there is no need for registration.
- File size should be as low as possible—downloading multi-gigabyte data may be a problem for some users without a fast Internet connection; additionally, processing large files may require hardware with high computing power. Therefore, the optimal value of the parameter is a small download size (less than 1 GB).
- The data format should be user-friendly—depending on the user’s level of experience with GIS software, handling less popular, less frequently used, and less compatible formats with different GIS software may be a problem. Some of the most user-friendly formats include GeoTIFF and JPEG2000.
- Earth coverage should be as complete as possible—due to the selected case study area, DEMs covering different parts of the world may be needed by the user. Therefore, the most optimal option is to provide as much coverage of the Earth’s surface as possible.
- Horizontal resolution should allow locating the given object—this parameter is closely related to the nature of the research carried out by the user; therefore, the optimum solution is the highest possible resolution (i.e., such that it allows localizing the analyzed phenomenon and object).
- Vertical resolution should not exceed 1 m—similarly to horizontal resolution, the highest possible resolution (about 1 m) is optimal. In the case of studies of areas prone to flooding, this accuracy is particularly important, as the studies are based on very precise values (as indicated in the global sea level rise scenarios).
3.1. Chosen Available Data Sources
3.2. Case Study
4. Discussion and Conclusions
- Studies carried out for Tri-City showed that even scenario 1 (sea level rise of 0.866 m) would entail irreversible damage to cultural heritage sites; even such a small change would carry significant implications. An estimated 51 sqkm (of Tri-City’s total area of approximately 418 sqkm) could be at risk of flooding, which is roughly 12% of the agglomeration area; there are 12 cultural heritage sites in the affected area. The second scenario, due to the slight differences in values (sea level rise of 1.064 m), resulted in a similar outcome as the first scenario—an estimated 54 sqkm could be at risk of flooding (roughly 13% of the agglomeration area), with 15 cultural heritage sites in the affected area. Objects at risk for the first two scenarios are generally historic industrial structures. The worst-case scenario 3 (sea level rise of 2.024 m) poses a serious threat to the city; under this scenario, over 75 sqkm of the agglomeration is at threat of flooding, which is almost 18% of the total area. Accordingly, 79 cultural heritage sites could be under a serious threat; in addition to the industrial sites for scenarios 1 and 2, many historic residential buildings may be at risk, as well as the southern part of the Old Town in Gdańsk, included in the UNESCO Tentative Lists. Many other studies show that densely populated areas are particularly threatened by rising sea levels. This study indicates that such threats could also affect cultural heritage sites, which are inextricably linked to the areas where people functioned and lived.
- In this study, the authors focused on analyzing the impact of global sea level rise on cultural heritage as a result of global warming; sea level change along the coast is the sum of eustatic, glacial isostatic adjustment, and tectonic factors. The authors decided to examine whether local GIA and tectonic factors could additionally influence sea level rise scenarios. The studies performed on the case study of the Baltic Sea [37,38,39,40,41] indicate a marginal effect of these factors on sea level rise, resulting in an additional rise of Baltic Sea level of approx. 2.42 cm in a projection for the year 2100. This value was added to the global sea level rise scenarios; however, it represented a very small percentage of the projected sea level: scenario 1—2.8%, scenario—2–2.3%, and scenario 3—1.2%. Studies performed in other parts of the world could show a significantly higher impact of GIA and tectonic factors, as shown by studies such as on the Mediterranean coast .
- Spatial analyses performed at the local scale typically rely on local data sources. This is confirmed by the case study carried out in the article. For global-scale analyses, where the level of detail is usually not as high, sources with a larger or even global scope may be more useful.
- Over the course of the research, the authors noticed an interesting phenomenon. Historic fortifications that originally served primarily as defenses against invaders today can provide an important line of defense against rising sea levels. Such is the case in Gdańsk, where the historic defensive walls of the Old Town can, in scenarios 1 and 2, protect the area from flooding. The specificity of defensive structures is the fact that they were raised on embankments or hills (often artificially elevated), additionally accompanied by moats. The authors noted that such topography may be an additional protective element for areas threatened by flooding as a result of the global sea level rise. This is shown in more detail in the following Figure 12.
- In the past, communities have coped with climate changes often by migrating . However, while rebuilding a residential home in another location is an acceptable solution, it is impossible to restore a historic monument on a new site. Thus, more attention should be drawn to the threats posed by the global sea level rise to areas with cultural heritage sites.
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Study||Scenario||Mean Global Sea Level Rise Prediction||Likely Range:|
|IPCC [23,24,25]||RCP2.6||0.435 m||0.285 m–0.589 m|
|RCP4.5||0.549 m||0.385 m–0.724 m|
|RCP8.5||0.842 m||0.609 m–1.105 m|
|2009 NOAA ||B1||1.04 m||0.81 m–1.31 m|
|A2||1.24 m||0.98 m–1.55 m|
|A1F1||1.43 m||1.13 m–1.79 m|
|2012 NOAA ||“Lowest”||0.2 m||-|
|Monument Type||Number of Monuments||Share of Monuments|
|Download charge||The user costs to download the data. Increasing global digitization means that a lot of spatial data are available free of charge (often due to legal arrangements, e.g., the European INSPIRE initiative). If access to spatial data is hindered by fees, some services allow free data samples to be downloaded. In this case, the user can test the data before purchase.|
|None||Fee||Fee with a free data sample|
|Registration||The requirement to register for the service. The best variant of this parameter for the user is that no registration is required.|
|None||Free registration||Paid registration/|
|File size||The size of the DEM file downloaded by the user. One file usually means one raster tile. Processing larger files can be problematic for older machines with less computing power.|
|Format||The data format should be user-friendly, meaning a commonly used format, and compatible with many GIS programs.|
|Earth coverage||Level of DEM coverage of the Earth’s surface. The limitation in coverage of certain types of DEMs may be a problem for a user with a particular case study area.|
|Horizontal resolution||Horizontal resolution determines how much area is covered by one raster cell. A lower value of this parameter means higher spatial accuracy, but also a larger file size and longer processing time.|
|Approx. <1 m||Approx. 1–5 m||Approx. 6–24 m||Above 25 m|
|Vertical resolution||Vertical resolution means elevation value—information on how frequently the DEM records a difference in elevation. A lower value of this parameter is particularly important for detailed analyses.|
|Approx. <1 m||Approx. 1–5 m||Approx. 6–24 m||Above 25 m|
|DEM||SRTM 1 Arc-Second Global||EU-DEM v1.1||Polish DEM|
|Available data formats||BIL, DTED, GeoTIFF||GeoTIFF||ARC/INFO ASCII GRID|
|Tile extent—N||~55 decimal degrees||4,000,000 m||718,832 m|
|Tile extent—S||~54 decimal degrees||3,000,000 m||716,507 m|
|Tile extent—W||~18 decimal degrees||4,000,000 m||483,740 m|
|Tile extent—E||~19 decimal degrees||5,000,000 m||485,781 m|
|Tile size||~1 dd × ~1 dd (approx. 111,700 m × 65,600 m)||1,000,000 m × 1,000,000 m||~2325 m × ~2041 m|
|Tile area||~7,000,000,000 sqm||1,000,000,000,000 sqm||~4,750,000 sqm|
|Geographic Coordinate System||WGS 1984||GCS ETRS 1989||ETRS 1989|
|Pixel type||Short integer||Floating point||Floating point|
|Pixel depth||16 bit||32 bit||32 bit|
|Horizontal accuracy||~30 m||25 m||~1 m|
|Vertical accuracy||9–16 m||+/− 7 m||+/−0,1 m|
|Geodesic cell size||~30.9 m × 35.7 m||25 m × 25 m||~1 × ~1 m|
|Parameter Group||Data Availability||Data Download||Data Specifications|
|Parameter||Download charge||Registration||File size||Format||Earth coverage||Horizontal resolution||Vertical resolution|
|SRTM 1 Arc-Second Global||None||Free registration||Small (~13 MB)||Yes||Incomplete||Above 25 m||Approx. 6–24 m|
|EU-DEM v1.1||None||Free registration||Large (~6 GB)||Yes||Partial||Above 25 m||Approx. 6–24 m|
|Polish DEM||None||None||Small (~18 MB)||Yes||Partial||Approx. <1 m||Approx. <1 m|
|Scenario||Global Sea Level Rise||Number of Threatened Non-Movable Monuments||Area Threatened by Flooding||Share of Area Threatened by Flooding in Total Area of Case Study Area|
|Scenario 1||0.866 m||12||~51 sqkm||~12%|
|Scenario 2||1.064 m||15||~54 sqkm||~13%|
|Scenario 3||2.024 m||79||~75 sqkm||~18%|
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Ciski, M.; Rząsa, K. Threats to Cultural Heritage Caused by the Global Sea Level Rise as a Result of the Global Warming. Water 2021, 13, 2577. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13182577
Ciski M, Rząsa K. Threats to Cultural Heritage Caused by the Global Sea Level Rise as a Result of the Global Warming. Water. 2021; 13(18):2577. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13182577Chicago/Turabian Style
Ciski, Mateusz, and Krzysztof Rząsa. 2021. "Threats to Cultural Heritage Caused by the Global Sea Level Rise as a Result of the Global Warming" Water 13, no. 18: 2577. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13182577