Threats related to global warming will grow over the 21st century. In British Columbia, climate change is predicted to cause rising sea levels, dry, hot summers, wet, warm winters, and more extreme weather events. As the severity and frequency of impacts increase, so could the rate of heritage site degradation. I outline site types that may be affected by the change in climate conditions based on research in other areas of the world. I also attempt to obtain an overview of the vulnerability of heritage sites across the province by creating risk mapping. This approach predicted the location and severity of impacts at set times by overlaying climate modelling data and documented heritage sites using Geographic Information System (GIS) software. Specifically, geospatial datasets for coastal sensitivity, temperature, and precipitation modelling were compared with heritage sites to determine if they intersected. The analysis results indicated that many sites could be at risk and that many were affected by more than one climate change variable. The vulnerability of sites to the effects of global warming was further illustrated with examples of past changes from wildfire and mountain pine beetle infestation and the number of potential sites that could have been subject to damage or destruction. Using information from this study, heritage managers can choose where to focus resources and efforts to manage future impacts on heritage in the province.
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Thesis advisor: Nicholas, George
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