Modeling Environmental Change Effects to Coastal Historic Landscapes and Cultural Resources, Point Reyes

2017 PTT Grant, Sonoma State University, $39,740


Evolving digital technologies are now providing enhanced opportunities to visualize and measure the effects of climate change on cultural resources. Of particular concern for the NPS and land managers is the increased effects of shoreline and surface erosion on archaeological sites, historic landscapes, and traditional tribal resources, resulting from rising sea levels and changing precipitation patterns. The difficulty in the past has been in correlating areas of cultural significance with zones of predicted increased adverse effects, and visualizing their nature and magnitude. GIS tools, LiDAR data, 3D photorealistic modeling software, and new approaches to spatial analysis can now be combined to target three objectives: 1) identify areas of primary cultural concern using GIS models of human mobility and visualizations across the landscape to define likely (and known) archaeological site locations, recent and on‐going human/animal surface disturbance, and the presence of intact historic landscapes, 2) identify and classify areas of erosional concern under different climate change, vegetation, and geology models using LiDAR terrain and projections for sea level rise, precipitation, and shoreline incursion, and 3) to educate the public about the effects of climate change on cultural resources using 3D photorealistic modeling of terrain at various points in the past, present, and future, illustrating specific examples of such effects. This proposed project would combine these three objectives and produce both data and visualizations that would be useful for land management and public outreach purposes. Point Reyes National Seashore, California, is selected as the case study for a widely applicable approach.

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National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
645 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Email: ncptt[at]
Phone: (318) 356-7444
Fax: (318) 356-9119