The uniform of future archaeologists might be a wetsuit. Scientific consensus agrees that as ice sheets in Greenland, Antarctica, and the Arctic melt, sea levels will rise around the world, threatening coastal communities and ecosystems — but we might also lose some of the world’s great cultural heritage.
A 2014 paper released in the journal Environmental Research Letters that estimated more than one-fifth of UNESCO’s 720 World Heritage sites are at risk from flooding or even total submersion by 2100 due to sea-level rise.
“If we do not limit climate change,” lead author Ben Marzeion told the Union of Concerned Scientists, “the archaeologists of the future will need to search for major parts of our cultural heritage in the oceans.”
There are dozens of natural and cultural wonders designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as World Heritage sites. These world wonders represent just a handful of sites that could be at least partly below local sea level if global temperatures reach a 3.6-degree Fahrenheit warming limit set out by the Paris Agreement.