Climate Change

Anthropogenic climate change is threatening the heritage of North-West Europe, particularly through increased incidence of storm activity impacting the coasts of Denmark, Ireland, and Scotland. Heritage loss or damage has an impact on the lives and livelihoods of local communities, their sense of place and belonging, their perception of climate change; therefore, it impacts their cultural identities. This project will address the impact of climate change-driven heritage loss on local communities.


Climate change is one of the biggest threats to heritage on the Atlantic and North Sea coasts of Europe. Since 2016, Ireland, Scotland and Denmark have witnessed the complete loss of a number of historic sites due to weather extremes associated with climate change. These included the collapse of Boolabaun medieval towerhouse (Ireland), damage to the Bronze Age burial site at Hindsholm (Denmark), and the façade of a 19th-century tenement building (Scotland).

There are numerous warnings of the impact of climate change on heritage. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change argues for an international response to climate change and discusses detrimental impacts to ‘social and cultural assets’[1]. The breadth of this challenge is a global concern, as indicated by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action (SDG).

Urgency mounts as risks to heritage sites increase. Projections indicate that NW Europe, the area studied in CHICC, will experience warmer, wetter winters; warmer, drier summers; an increase in the severity and incidence of extreme weather events including cyclones; and sea-level rise[2]. CHICC will work with communities to interrogate the relationship between climate change, heritage, and cultural identities.

[1] IPCC. (October 2018) Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C, 26.

[2] Marzeion, B. & Levermann, A. (2014) Loss of cultural world heritage and currently inhabited places to sea-level rise. Environmental Research Letters, Volume 9:3.