Climate Change and the Predicament of Archaeology in the U.S. Middle Atlantic Region

Author(s): Carole Nash; Heather Wholey

Year: 2017


The U.S. Middle Atlantic region, known for its rich archaeological record and diverse topographic settings, is experiencing a range of climate change impacts: sea level rise and coastal erosion; increased precipitation and flooding in some areas; and mountain-based forest fires associated with drought in other areas. Documented paleostratigraphic and palynological studies throughout the region provide a record of late Pleistocene/Holocene environmental response to changing climate, confirming observations from other disciplines that the magnitude of modern impacts exceeds past temporal and spatial patterns. The corresponding impact on archaeological resources is great, requiring a renewed effort to document threatened sites while also working with local and state governments to develop mitigation strategies. The Middle Atlantic Archaeological Conference (MAAC) has supported the creation of the ‘Climate Change Response Network for Mid-Atlantic Heritage Resources,’ which acts as an on-line archive of survey and salvage projects. A result of this project is the recognition that archaeologists in the region have monitored sea level rise for decades, their work providing a unique framework for the modeling and prediction of future impacts. The network highlights the predicament of archaeology in this time of climate change: accelerated research and discovery in the face of catastrophic loss.

Cite this Record

Climate Change and the Predicament of Archaeology in the U.S. Middle Atlantic Region. Carole Nash, Heather Wholey. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431034)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -84.067; min lat: 36.031 ; max long: -72.026; max lat: 43.325 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14658