Accelerating Environmental Change Threats to Alaskan Cultural Heritage: Emerging Challenges and Promising Responses
Archaeological sites are important repositories of cultural heritage. Those with good organic preservation are particularly important as sources of data on past human behavior, but also as valuable resources for paleoenvironmental reconstruction, with potential similar to other stratified datable proxy records. Alaska is fortunate to have a plethora of such sites.
Yet, just as new methods increase our ability to retrieve and study the information contained in these sites, accelerating environmental change poses a dire threat, both to the wealth of data contained in them, and to many of the sites themselves. Threats include: increased coastal erosion (due to sea level rise, possible increases in number and/or strength of storms, and diminished sea ice in Polar regions, relaxation of glacial forebulges changing relative sea level), increased riverine erosion (due to increases in precipitation amount or intensity and increases in glacial melting), drying of waterlogged sites and bogs (due to hydrological changes), changes in fire regimes, changes in land use which result in greater ground disturbance (due to changing conditions for agriculture or displacement of populations from more threatened areas), and in northern areas, the warming and thawing of permafrost. Alaska is clearly the most affected state in the country. It seems clear that these changes are unlikely to stop or even slow, bringing into question the wisdom of proceeding with “business as usual.”
The session is planned to include papers identifying challenges, either in the field or post-excavation, as well as those which offer examples of promising responses to any of these challenges.
Please send copies of abstracts to Anne Jensen (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Andy Tremayne (Andrew_Tremayne@nps.gov) ASAP!!!