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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was founded in 1988 to provide governments with policy-relevant assessments of climate science as well as options for adaptation and mitigation. It is now recognized as providing the leading global compilation of climate science, adaptation, and mitigation research. The volunteer scientists who write these reports have carried out five complete assessment cycles, with the sixth cycle to be completed in 2022. Here, we review how information from and about archaeology and other forms of cultural heritage has been incorporated into these reports to date. Although this review shows that archaeology has not been wholly absent from work of the IPCC, we suggest that archaeology has more to offer the IPCC and global climate response. We propose five ways to more fully engage both archaeologists and knowledge from and about the human past in IPCC assessments and reports.
The cold, wet climate of the Arctic has led to the extraordinary preservation of archaeological sites and materials that offer important contributions to the understanding of our common cultural and ecological history. This potential, however, is quickly disappearing due to climate-related variables, including the intensification of permafrost thaw and coastal erosion, which are damaging and destroying a wide range of cultural and environmental archives around the Arctic. In providing an overview of the most important effects of climate change in this region and on archaeological sites, the authors propose the next generation of research and response strategies, and suggest how to capitalise on existing successful connections among research communities and between researchers and the public.
Anthropogenic climate change is increasingly threatening cultural heritage; cultural resource managers, communities, and archaeologists are confronting this reality. Yet the phenomenon is happening over such a wide range of physical and sociocultural contexts that it is a problem too big for any one organization or discipline to tackle. Therefore, the sharing of best practices and examples between the communities dealing with this problem is essential. This article presents examples from communities, cultural resource managers, and archaeologists who are engaging with climate change–based threats to cultural heritage. Our presentation of these international activities follows the US National Park Service (NPS) four-pillar approach to climate-change threats to cultural heritage: science, mitigation, adaptation, and communication. We discuss this approach and then present a number of cases in which communities or institutions are attempting to manage cultural heritage threatened by climate change through these four pillars. This article restricts itself to examples that are taking place outside of the USA and concludes with some general recommendations for both archaeologists and funding entities.
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