A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists says Jamestown is likely to be completely submerged by the end of the century.
The report lists 30 locations that the union believes are at risk due to climate change, locally including not only Jamestown, but also Fort Monroe, NASA Langley Research Center, NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
Smithsonian.com spoke with Adam Markham, Director of Clime Impacts for the UCS. He said, “Most communities in America have some kind of historic site. These are places that people have heard about, they visit, or they want to visit. These are places that people either know about, or have seen or care about.”
Jamestown is one of the oldest sites on the list. The report says the waters around the colony have been rising at twice the global average rate. Shoreline erosion and groundwater extraction beneath the colony are causing it to slip lower towards sea level.
In the past, researchers and archaeologists have chosen to leave artifacts in the ground for future generations to excavate. But with the threat of losing them, they’re forced to reconsider their excavation options before the artifacts are gone forever.
“I think climate change is going to transform the way that people think about managing archeological and cultural resources over the next couple of decades,” Markham said to Smithsonian.com.
Historical Sites Listed in the UCS Report:
Alaska: Alaska Native Villages and National Parks on the Northwest Alaska Coast—Cape Krusenstern National Monument; Kivalina; the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve; Shishmaref
California: Groveland Hotel, Groveland, California; Cesar Chavez National Monument, Keene, California
California, Florida, Virginia and Texas: NASA Sites in Virginia, Florida, Texas and California
Colorado and New Mexico: Mesa Verde National Park; Bandelier National Monument; Santa Clara Pueblo
Florida: Historic State Park, St. Augustine, Florida; Shell Mound Sites in Southern Florida
Hawaii: Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical and Koloko-Honokohau National Historical parks, Hawaii’s Big Island
Maryland: Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park, Maryland; Annapolis’ Historic downtown and the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland
Massachusetts: Faneuil Hall and the Blackstone Block Historic District, Boston, Massachusetts
South Carolina: The Old and Historic District in Charleston, South Carolina
Virginia: Jamestown, Virginia; Fort Monroe, Virginia
Sites That Have Already Taken Steps To Become More Resilient to Climate Change:
New York: The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Island) and Ellis Island, New York
North Carolina: Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, North Carolina