Threatened Science & Heritage in Greenland: response and capacity building project

  • McGovern, Thomas H. (Project manager, organisational)
  • Arneborg, Jette (Project manager, academic)
  • Koch Madsen, Christian (Project manager, academic)
  • Simpson, Ian A. (Project manager, academic)
  • Smiarovski, Konrad (Project manager, academic)

Project: Research

Project Details


The Threatened Science & Heritage in Greenland: response and capacity building (RESPONSE) project requests support for an international, interdisciplinary effort to build upon prior NSF-supported work in Greenland to 1) enhance archaeological contributions to global change science in a key area for long term human ecodynamics research; 2) respond to urgent threats posed to science and heritage by the rapid loss of once well- preserved organic remains due to rising soil temperatures and accelerated coastal erosion and; 3) help build local and international response capacity and capability. This proposal forms part of a global response to combined environmental threats to local and world heritage and to the unique scientific record held in stratified archaeological sites. It is affiliated with the Society for American Archaeology?s Climate Change Strategies and the Archaeological Record committee (SAA CCSAR), European Archaeological Association, and the Integrated History and Future of People on Earth (!HOPE) Threats to Heritage and the Distributed Observing Network of the Past teams. The past decades have seen rapid environmental change in the circumpolar north including dramatic reduction in sea ice, increasing storminess, and rapidly rising soil temperatures. Soil temperature increases pose a special threat to preservation conditions in archaeological deposits of all periods in southwest Greenland, and both extensive archaeological survey and testing (Madsen 2015) and recent instrumental studies (Hollesen et al. 2015, 2016, 2017) have documented catastrophic loss of once well-preserved organic remains as result of threshold -crossing soil chemistry changes associated with loss of seasonally frozen ground. Just as new laboratory studies making use of stable isotopes, trace elements, and ancient DNA demonstrate the value of archaeological sites as a "distributed observing network of the past" for collaborative interdisciplinary global change research (Hambrecht et al. 2017) we are seeing unprecedented threat to our basic record. This proposal requests support for a coordinated international response to this threat to both science and cultural heritage in Greenland that builds on prior experience and international collaboration and will expand our understanding oflong term human-landscape-climate interactions in SW Greenland while strengthening US scientific capacities in the circumpolar north.
Effective start/end date01/09/201931/08/2022