Shoreline changes and its impact on archaeological sites in West Greenland

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelfagfællebedømt

Coastal erosion is regarded as a major threat to archaeological sites in the Arctic region. The problem arises because the predominantly marine-focused lifeways of Arctic people means that the majority of archaeological sites are found near the coast. On a Pan-Arctic scale, coastal erosion is often explained by long-term processes such as sea level rise, lengthening of open water periods due to a decline in sea ice, and a predicted increase in the frequency of major storms. However, on a local scale other short-term processes may be important parameters determining the coastal development. In this study, we focus on the Nuuk fjord system in West Greenland, which has been inhabited over the past 4000 years by different cultures and holds around 260 registered archaeological settlements. The fjord is characterized by its large branching of narrow deep-water and well-shaded water bodies, where tidal processes and local sources of sediment supply by rivers are observed to be the dominant factors determining the coastal development. We present a regional model showing the vulnerability of the shoreline and archeological sites due to coastal processes. The model is based on a) levelling surveys and historical aerial photographs of nine specific sites distributed in the region, b) water level measurements at three sites representing the inner-, middle- and outer fjord system, c) aerial photographs, satellite images and meteorological data of the entire region used to up-scale our local information at a specific settlement scale towards a regional scale. This deals with spatial and temporal variability in erosion and accumulation patterns along the shores in fjords and open seas.
TidsskriftAmerican Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2017
StatusUdgivet - 1 dec. 2017

ID: 346057964