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Rising seas swallowing neolithic ruins on Orkney Islands

Scotland’s 5,000-year-old structures from the Neolithic Period, have fallen fall victim to rising seas, increasingly powerful storms, coastal erosion as well as other events and won’t be around for too much longer.

Stone Age people built their castles near the sea because of itheir need to live off the ocean. Now, due to global warming, one half of Orkney’s 3,000 sites are in danger of being lost to coastal erosion and storms. This British heritage is in danger of being swept directly into the sea.

Teams are hustling to take photos, measurements and performing other research to document the areas before they are washed away.

While ancient sites and artifacts around the world are threatened by climate change, the Neolithic sites on the Orkney Islands are especially at risk because of their age, their prevalence, and the speed at which they are being washed into the sea. In many cases, scientists can do nothing except try to document these places before they disappear.


A similarily affected area is in Venice, Italy, where the famous Piazza San Marco is regularly under water.  Venice bids to hold back the tide! Rising sea levels combined with a sinking city has the Mediterranean threatening to swallow Venice.




And on Easter Island,  hundreds of these complex Moai ceremonial monuments encircle the island, making them vulnerable to coastal erosion. Many are collapsing into the sea. Waves, ever-rising tides and strong storms have knocked down some of the famous statues, washing away the platforms on which they sit.



Core samples, tide readings and satellite measurements indicate that over the past century, the Global Mean Sea Level (GMSL) has risen by 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters). More notably, in the past 20 years the annual rate of rise over has been 0.13 inches (3.2 millimeters) a year, roughly twice the average speed of the preceding 80 years.

The rise in sea levels is linked to three primary factors, all induced by this ongoing global climate change:

  • Thermal Expansion: as water heats up, it expands. About half of the past century’s rise in sea level is attributable to warmer oceans simply occupying more space.
  • Melting Glaciers and Polar Ice Caps: Large ice formations: glaciers and the polar ice caps, naturally melt back a bit each summer. In the winter, snowsfalls are generally sufficient to balance out the melting. Recently,  persistently higher temperatures caused by global warming has led to a greater than average summer-melt, along with a diminished snowfall, due to later winters and earlier springs. An imbalance that results in  sea levels rising.
  • Ice Loss from Greenland and West Antarctica: increased heat has caused the massive ice sheets that cover Greenland and Antarctica to melt at an accelerated pace. Meltwater from above and seawater from below is seeping beneath Greenland’s and West Antarctica’s ice sheets, effectively lubricating ice streams and causing them to move more quickly into the sea. Higher sea temperatures cause the massive ice shelves that extend out from Antarctica to melt from below, weaken, and break off.

Climate change experts predict the oceans to rise between 11 and 38 inches (28 to 98 centimeters) by 2100, enough to swamp many of the cities along the U.S. East Coast, and low-lying islands could be submerged completely. More dire estimates, including a complete meltdown of the Greenland ice sheet, placing sea level rise to 23 feet (7 meters); enough to submerge London.

Houston, we have a problem!

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