Climate change bringing rising sea levels could destroy several national landmarks and historic places, a new study warns.
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) compiled a new report, predicting how changing climate could affect many beloved areas. This is the first detailed study ever conducted on how climate change could affect historic monuments and locations.
Researchers studied 30 locales, and in 17 of these locations, more frequent storms and rising sea levels are already taking their toll. These areas include the Statue of Liberty and Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the New World.
Waters around Jamestown are rising twice as fast as global averages. This water is causing erosion, allowing river water to seep under the site, creating unstable conditions. Geologists believe that the area could be completely submerged by the year 2100. Artifacts of the Jamestown colony and Pre-Columbian cultures could be underwater in the next three generations, the report warns.
"Instead of leaving the artifacts in the ground to be excavated at a future date, when improved technology would lessen the risk of causing damage to delicate artifacts, archeologists are now worried that they might need to remove artifacts sooner - potentially damaging their lens into the earliest piece of American colonial history in the process," Natasha Geiling wrote for Smithsonian.
Other areas examined in the report include Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, the Bering Land Bridge National Monument and the Johnson Space Center in Texas. More than two-thirds of all NASA facilities are within 16 feet of sea level.
Some areas, such as Cape Hatteras, Ellis Island and Liberty Island have started to prepare for the effects of climate change on historic landmarks.
Boston luckily avoided severe damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012. But, rising sea levels and more frequent storms could cause damage to Beantown.
"During the winters of 2013 and 2014, nor'easters caused storm tides to rise even higher than those from Hurricane Sandy in 2012 - one rose a foot higher. Yet, so far, Boston has been lucky, as these storm surges have all coincided with low tides. If the worst of the storm surges had hit at high tide, major flooding could have occurred, inundating much of the waterfront, past Faneuil Hall up to City Hall," the report stated [pdf].
Other beloved areas in Boston could also potentially feel the effects of climate change. Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox since 1912, stands just three miles from Faneuil Hall, and just 20 feet above sea level. The historic structure, site of Carlton Fisk's walk-off homer in game six of the 1975 World Series, lies on the opposite side of the Charles River Basin from Faneuil Hall.