Coastal heritage, global climate change, public engagement, and citizen science

Tom Dawson*, Joanna Hambly, Alice Kelley, William Lees, Sarah Miller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


Climate change is threatening an uncalculated number of archaeological sites globally, totalling perhaps hundreds of thousands of culturally and paleoenvironmentally significant resources. As with all archaeological sites, they provide evidence of humanity’s past and help us understand our place in the present world. Coastal sites, clustered at the water’s edge, are already experiencing some of the most dramatic damage due to anthropogenic climate change; and the situation is predicted to worsen in the future. In the face of catastrophic loss, organizations around the world are developing new ways of working with this threatened coastal resource. This paper uses three examples, from Scotland, Florida and Maine, to highlight how new partnerships and citizen science approaches are building communities of practice to better manage threatened coastal heritage. It compares methods on either side of the Atlantic and highlights challenges and solutions. The approaches are applicable to the increasing number of heritage sites everywhere at risk from climate change; the study of coastal sites thus helps society prepare for climate change impacts to heritage worldwide.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8280-8286
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number15
Early online date13 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2020


  • Archaeology
  • Coastal heritage
  • Climate change
  • Heritage management
  • Citizen science


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