Climate change over the next 100 years will likely have a range of direct and indirect effects on the natural and material environment, including the historic built environment. Important changes will include alterations in temperature, precipitation, extreme climatic events, soil conditions, groundwater and sea level.Some processes of building decay will be accelerated or worsened by climate change, while others will be delayed. The impacts on individual processes can be described, but it is difficult to assess the overall risk posed by climate change using currently available data. Linking global changes to the response of material surfaces of archaeological and historic structures remains a challenge.
The objectives of the NOAH'S ARK Project are:
■To determine the meteorological parameters and changes most critical to the built cultural heritage.
■To research, predict and describe the effects of climate change on Europe's built cultural heritage over the next 100 years.
■To develop mitigation and adaptation strategies for historic buildings, sites, monuments and materials that are likely to be worst affected by climate change effects and associated disasters.
■To disseminate information on climate change effects and the optimum adaptation strategies for adoption by Europe's cultural heritage managers through a conference and guidelines.
■To provide electronic information sources and tools, including web-based Climate Risk Maps and a Vulnerability Atlas for heritage managers to assess the threats of climate change in order to visualize the built heritage and cultural landscape under future climate scenarios and model the effects of different adaptation strategies.
■To advise policy-makers and legislators through the project's Policy Advisory Panel.
The results will allow the prediction of the impact of climate and pollution on cultural heritage and investigation of the response of materials and structures of the historic built environment to future climate scenarios on a European scale.
The outcome will allow the definition of guidelines and adaptation strategies, leading to possible amendments in EC Directives.
The output of NOAH'S ARK will underpin the following gaps existing in current EU policy:
■inclusion of Cultural Heritage Protection as a prerequisite for implementing sustainable development
■inclusion of immovable Cultural Heritage in the indicators for integrated assessment
■favouring of dialogue between Air quality and Climate change Programmes, providing input to the Environment Action Programme within areas of Climate change and Quality of life