Climate Change is constantly affecting the weather and conditions in regions with each passing year. countless problems are on the rise, not to forget that the economy too is adversely affected. The physical aspects, the results of climate change are warming seas and melting glaciers, slowly rising sea levels around the world, and threatening coastal communities, with infrastructure and historical sites with worsen floods and increase in storm. as climate change is, directly and indirectly, threatening all forms of cultural heritage, among others through severe precipitation, long heatwaves, droughts, strong winds and sea-level rise – also expected to rise in the future. For about 50 years, UNESCO has maintained a list of World Heritage sites that can be protected. Climate Change affects World Heritage Sites and threats due to changing temperature. Some of the factors are:

Heritage sites affected by climate change - Sheet1
Venice_Mental Floss

Freeze–thaw cycles: a kind of mechanical weathering, which results in structural damage and disintegration of stone, brick, and ceramic materials at heritage sites.

Warming oceans: Marine biodiversity and Marine heritage Sites pose a threat due to the rise in ocean temperature, acidification of tropical coral reefs is one major example.

Thermoclastism is a condition where thermal changes  lead to the expansion & contraction of surface mineral grains along with variations in air temperature, also a result of diurnal changes, this often results in micro-cracking and exfoliation of stones and building material surfaces.

Threats due to changes in precipitation:

Flooding induces moisture in heritage materials and structures, causing physical, chemical and biological degradation. Another cause of precipitation changes in slopes which later results in landslides, excessive rainfalls increase the risk of gully erosion and landslides at the heritage sites.

Biological degradation: humidity Changes induce microorganisms to grow on the stone or Wooden members of Heritage buildings.

Sea level rise: The coastal areas are in real danger due to the rise in sea levels, the coastal biodiversity and cultural heritage tend to pose a threat. The loose foundations, and excessive coastal erosion. Constant storms, hurricanes, and cyclones result in the destruction of coastal areas, a lot of valuable assets and people in coastal areas suffer, coastal erosion, causing re-shaping of the coast, and a further increase in the coastal flooding deteriorates the coastal heritage sites.

Another factor is Droughts and extreme heat: Droughts increase the risk of ignition of fires.

Extreme temperatures often lead to extreme drought conditions which affect the soil’s strength and building materials leading to structural implications and weak foundations of archaeological sites.

Changes in Wind: extensive wind speed variations and wind gusts during storms cause enormous damage to archaeological sites, impacting the structures and potentially causing their collapse.

Heritage sites affected by climate change - Sheet2
_mohenjodaroheritage_ Forbes India
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mohenjo-daro-sky news

Easter Island, Chile | Heritage sites

The famed island has its impact of climate change, from the cooler waters caused by fluctuating global temperatures to a record drought, which has put the island’s wetlands on verge of disappearing and put its freshwater reserves at risk.

Additional problems like intense swells, soil loss due to erosion, booming tourist activity and the pollution by tons of plastic that is present all around this remote island.

“The first sign of climate change here on the island is the fact that the wetlands have completely dried up,” 

Since the last few years, it has been recorded that the water is colder each year explained by climate studies, stating that, unlike other parts of the planet, this part of the Pacific Ocean will cool at a rate close to 0.15 degree Celsius (0.27 degree F) per decade.

It is the most dried now which has ever been recorded. Easter Island, which attracts visitors with its more than 1,000 stone sculptures erected by the local Rapa Nui people, is under the list of six heritage sites most vulnerable to climate change in the world.

Many of the sites are affected by “Slow factors” which includes attacks of wood-eating termites in areas that were previously very dry or cold for the survival of these insects.

In many countries, the soil is unstable on some heritage sites, due to the drying due to scanty rainfall. Under drought conditions, the soils contract making the foundations move, and go on to swell suddenly when it rains, ultimately resulting in cracking. When the soil is parched and hard, it absorbs very less water, which promotes flooding.

“It’s not just the heritage that is affected when you lose part of it, but all the social system around it,” added the secretary general of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (Icomos), an NGO.

Heritage sites affected by climate change - Sheet10
looted burial site_Julia Kate Clark
Heritage sites affected by climate change - Sheet11
skulls _Julia Kate Clark


In Mongolia, archaeological sites have been abandoned and then looted as  “the population no longer had access to water”. In future, several important heritage sites might be lost, due to increase in conflicts as a result of water shortages.

Heritage sites affected by climate change - Sheet12
venice_Marie-Julie Van de Sijpe

In Venice, Italy | Heritage sites

Venice is built on the edge of a lagoon on a Marshland. Venice has always witnessed high flooding, and this constant flooding is known as “acqua alta” — high water — which are actually high tides. This flooding was not that common. This comes with the, sea levels rise, these types of tides have become more common.The contaminated, and saline water is getting into the building’s materials and monuments and causes expansions, then crack – or even bubble and explode.

Venice has already invested billions of dollars in a MOSE project for installing 78 floodgates in the lagoon of Venice. Project was estimated to be completed in 2012, But there has been a delay due to technical issues, corruption and bureaucracy. The water levels are going to increase no matter what, putting the structural strength of foundations at risks, and leaving historical buildings to suffer

Heritage sites affected by climate change - Sheet13
Djenne Mosque, Mali_atlas and boots

Machu Picchu, Peru

Severe landslides in the Andes mountains

A glacial avalanche on a massive peak overlooking the ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru triggered mudslides and flooding which resulted in 3 casualties in the community of Santa Teresa, below the enigmatic Incan citadel. At 20,574 feet, Salkantay is covered by a giant ice cap, among the other glaciated peaks of the tropical Andes. Due to climate change, Severe melting and destabilising at an accelerated rate. The threat surrounding this is the potential for ice and rock to fall into glacial lakes at the foot of the glaciers, melted water downstream and into communities below. Peruvian government authorities stated that a “mixed avalanche” made up of 400,000 cubic metres of mostly rock and some ice tumbled off of Salkantay and into Salkantay Cocha Lake. This has made the world’s deadliest lake way more dangerous.

Heritage sites affected by climate change - Sheet5
Fort Prinzenstein_ Pietro Morizio
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Fort Prinzenstein_ Pietro Morizio

Mohenjo Daro, Pakistan | Heritage sites

The tragic floods in Pakistan in 2022 were so close to wiping off the world’s first city, Approx 1,600 Pakistanis died and 33 million others were affected in this disaster. One of the major sites affected by climate change, situations have gotten worse each year for countries in debt like Pakistan. Built around 3000 BC by the Indus valley civilization in modern-day South Asia, Mohenjo Daro was not swept away by the floods, most likely because of genius Planning.

It is perched high above the Indus river, the city was equipped with primitive sewers and drainage systems, resulting in the evacuation of most of the floodwater.

Machu Picchu_ Unesco
Machu Picchu_ Unesco

Fort Prinzenstein, Ghana

In Ghana, Fort Prinzenstein is affected due to erosion, which is conserved as a slave trading post. Rising seas and extensive storms have eroded Ghana‘s slave forts

The country loses two metres of coastline every year,

The 18th-century Danish citadel was the last stop for captured Africans before they were forced onto slave ships set forth across the Americas.”Whole structures, along with the main dungeons, are now in the sea.” These seaside slave fortresses have shaped Ghana’s history, and have become places of pilgrimage for members of the African diaspora who wish to connect with their roots and pay homage to their ancestors.

To slow the damage, the government has constructed a series of sea defence walls along regions of the coastline to prevent towns, villages and heritage sites to reduce the effect

This comes with another issue, the walls are pushing sediment further along the coastline in other areas where it is causing erosion, calling for a more holistic approach. They were intended to plan for developing nature-based solutions such as using mangroves.

In order to  protect the forts, and to combat issues of climate change, the government has issued a $30-million management plan. With a belief that  though these forts  are located in Ghana, they belong to the world, and to protect them  is everyone’s shared responsibility.

Taj Mahal_ The weather channel
Taj Mahal_ The weather channel

Taj Mahal, India

The Taj Mahal’s appearance might completely be different if the world fails to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

India’s white-marble Taj Mahal is turning yellow and green due to polluted air, the major issue in the world’s eighth-most polluted city.

One of the seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal abuts a garbage-strewn river and is often enveloped by dust and smog from vehicles in the northern city of Agra. 

An environmental lawyer addressed India’s Supreme Court that tiny insects from the drying Yamuna River crawl into the Taj Mahal and their excrement further stains the marble.

Architectural Restorers use a paste of a clay mineral to clean the marble, as It pulls away impurities from the surface and can then be cleaned off with water. Activists are also concerned about the decreasing water table in Agra which might be weakening the wooden foundations. Other issues include polluting vehicles and rampant construction around the mausoleum. Behind Taj’s Rear side, plastic bags and garbage pile up by the river and smoke blows from a chimney in the distance. The sudden colour change has not come out of the blue. Environmentalists and historians have long warned about the risk of soot and fumes from factories and tanneries in turn dulling the ivory monument.

Easter Island Erosion_ New York Times
Easter Island Erosion_ New York Times
Easter Islands_ ©Orlando Milesi
Easter Islands_ ©Orlando Milesi

Djeneé Mosquée, Mali | Heritage sites

Grand Old Mosque of Djenné, Mali situated in a town built from earth. In 1988, it made it to the world heritage list due to its unique vernacular architecture.

Now, the degradation of its mud architecture is undergoing intense degradation. The high quality mud has become scarce due to the lower water table in inland Niger delta.

Increased costs of Mud bricks are also a problem, as locals are not able to afford it and hence, cheap materials like concrete and fired bricks are being used for repairs of Traditional buildings. These earthen buildings release greenhouse gases, consume less energy and maintain an appropriate internal thermal comfort. They are sustainable and can battle against climate change.

China-Great-Green-Wall_ Plain zebra
China-Great-Green-Wall_ Plain zebra

Green wall of China

When there are only the severe consequences of Climate change faced by Heritage sites all over the world there is some ray of hope & positive News from China.  China’s north shelter forest problem dubbe “The Great Green Wall” grows in climate fights. China has been planting trees in the region and is speeding ahead with its massive tree-planting project to combat climate change, but of course, there are still doubts over the great green wall’s effectiveness

This is a human-made ecological barrier created to reverse rapidly encroaching deserts and combat climate change.It has been estimated that By 2050, the artificial forest is to stretch 400 million hectares – covering more than 42 per cent of China‘s landmass.

The project began in 1978, China’s top legislative body, passed a rule to make it the duty of every citizen above age 11 to plant at least three Poplar, Eucalyptus, Larch or other saplings every year.

Some critics often have stated that the type of forests planted, may limit their effectiveness in those locations, They argue that the Great Green Wall has contributed to a significant decline in China’s forest quality. Some experts explain that in many of the newly planted forests, only a few animals thrive. And the Great Green Wall may not be enough. 


Europe’s Combat Strategy | Heritage sites

Europe’s major tourist sites are fighting climate change to survive.

It is destroying heritage sites across Europe and globally. researchers have warned of the disappearance of Ancient historical landmarks if timely swift action is not taken to protect them from environmental damage. A few examples such as Greece’s beautiful city of Rhodes is hit by frequent heat waves, earthquakes and flooding along with its mediaeval buildings which need protection from damage caused by heavy delivery lorries. So there also comes a need to involve finding a less harmful way to transport goods to the local population. When planning ways to protect heritage, authorities must involve local communities. The danger is that they will not like the solution you provide and then they might not use the historic area anymore,’ said Daniel Lückerath, project coordinator of a project called ARCH. ‘People are what make historic areas, what give those areas value,’ without them those places are mere ghost towns.

The ARCH project is developing tools for authorities which can assess and protect the local heritage. ARCH is co-designing these with authorities in Slovakia’s ancient capital Bratislava, along with the Italian village of Camerino, Valencia in Spain and Germany’s harbour city, Hamburg.The goal consists that Major heritage sites are not the only ones that need to be preserved. 

There Is SHELTER project Sustainable Historic Environments hoListic reconstruction through Technological Enhancement and community based Resilience 

Project HYPERION stands for (Development of a Decision Support System for Improved Resilience & Sustainable Reconstruction of historic areas to cope with Climate Change & Extreme Events based on Novel Sensors and Modelling Tools)

which aims to develop risk assessment with conservation tools and early warning systems, it is helping Greece, Italy ,Spain and Norway, to adapt to the challenges of climate change 

In the end, The Ultimate aim is to help all communities protect their heritage. The tools developed by SHELTER, ARCH and HYPERION projects will be tested by the cities and communities which helped them during design, and then run trials in other regions to see if they can be replicated in numerous situations. In some cases, local authorities tend to not monitor the impacts of climate change and other risks, with a lack of information available about the age and state of their local heritage, making it all go in vain. This includes even the lack of political will to protect it. As a consequence of this, communities living near some of Europe’s most exposed sites are not necessarily aware of the vulnerability, making it difficult to conserve them.

Storm Italy_
Storm Italy_


Improvement in cultural heritage resilience towards climate change will lead to a strategic shift towards investment in new forms of safeguarding and restoration.

experts point out that as different ministries are responsible for cultural heritage and climate change policies many more leaders must continuously and consistently align their strategies to make them truly efficient. There is a need for obtaining reliable information, quantitative data or about the decay and loss of cultural heritage.

The expert group recommends that actions be undertaken to fully integrate cultural heritage issues into environmental sustainability and climate policy-making at all levels (local, regional, national, and international).

In addition, there is a need for more research to be undertaken to better understand the most severe threats and their potential impacts, along with the costs involved to make cultural heritage resilient to climate change.

Cultural heritage is a most valuable source of knowledge and inspiration for policymakers, heritage managers and society as a whole. 

Experts collected a total of 83 good practice examples from 26 countries, which showcase both the impact of climate change on cultural heritage and the potential of cultural heritage solutions in the context of climate change.

The examples of built heritage, the report details that it is a repository of traditional knowledge and techniques that were often born out of energy and resource scarcities. 

A very high number of built heritage structures have used climate-friendly building materials, which were traditionally locally sourced and manufactured, avoiding high transportation costs and CO2 emissions.

UNESCO (2021). Sustainable Historic Environments hoListic reconstruction through Technological Enhancement and community based Resilience. [online]. (Last updated: 2021). Available at:  /[Accessed date: 07/02/2023].

Author/Source if no specific author (Year). Title of web document/page. [online]. (Last updated: if this information is available). Available at: [Accessed date: Day/Month/Year].

Alex Whiting (2022). Title of web document/page. [online]. (Last updated:15 July 2022. Available at: [Accessed date: 11/02/2023].

Carolyn Roberts(2018). Pollution is killing the Taj Mahal and time is running out to save it. [online]. (Last updated: Aug 15 2018). Available at:Pollution is killing the Taj Mahal and time is running out to save it | World Economic Forum ( [Accessed date: 10/02/2023].

FPRELAXNEWS(2022). From floods at Mohenjo Daro to landslide at Machu Picchu, climate change ‘main threat’ for world heritage sites [online]. (Last updated:Nov 21 2022. Available at: From Floods At Mohenjo Daro To Landslide At Machu Pichu, Climate Change ‘main Threat’ For World Heritage Sites – Forbes India [Accessed date: 08/02/2023].

UNWTO (2020). MACHU PICCHU: THE FIRST CARBON NEUTRAL WONDER OF THE WORLD.  [online]. (Last updated:16 Dec 2020). Available at: Machu Picchu: the First Carbon Neutral Wonder of the World ( [Accessed date: 12/02/2023].

Council of Europe portal (2009). Workshop on Climate change impact on water related and marine risks  . [online]. (Last updated: 27 oct 2009). Available at:  [Accessed date: 11/02/2023].


An Architect, honing her Design skills each day, She likes to Observe Spaces, People, & The Greens! She is in awe of built forms & narrates tales about them, Bingeing On pop cultural content is her guilty pleasure.