Climate change and coastal archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa: assessing past impacts and future threats

K Westley, Georgia Andreou, Crystal El Safadi, H.O. Huigens, Julia Nikolaus, Rodrigo Ortiz-Vazquez, Nick Ray, Ash Smith, Sophie Tews, Lucy Blue , C Breen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
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Climate change threatens coastal archaeology through storm flooding (extreme sea-level: ESL), long-term sea-level rise (SLR) and coastal erosion. Many regions, like the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), lack key baseline evidence. We present initial results from a climate change threat assessment of MENA's coastal heritage using the Maritime Endangered Archaeology inventory: a geospatial database of MENA maritime archaeological sites incorporating a disturbance/ threat assessment. It informs two analyses of past disturbance and future threat: (1) using the integral threat/disturbance assessment, and (2) geospatial extraction of information from external coastal change models. Analysis suggests <5% of documented coastal sites are definitely affected by coastal erosion but up to 34% could also have experienced past flooding, erosion, or storm action. Climate change-related threats will increase over the 21st Century and accelerate post-2050 if carbon emissions remain high. SLR and ESL could impact 14–25% of sites by 2050 and 18–34% by 2100. Over 30% to 40% of sites could be impacted by erosion by 2050 and 2100 respectively. Whilst documentation is ongoing and there remain modeling uncertainties, this approach provides a means to redress the absence of baseline data on climate change threats to coastal cultural heritage in MENA.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Island and Coastal Archaeology
Early online date2 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished online - 2 Sept 2021

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© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor * Francis Group.


  • spatial analysis
  • remote sensing
  • coastal
  • Middle East and North Africa
  • Spatial analysis


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