Sea Level Rise Threatens Jamestown, Other Landmarks

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December 2, 2017

Rising sea levels could wash away some of America's most treasured past and present landmarks, a new study suggests.

Among the more than 13,000 archaeological and historic sites on the southeast Atlantic and Gulf coasts that are in the firing line are Jamestown, and St. Augustine, the Americas' first permanent English and oldest continuously occupied European settlements, respectively. 

Another historical site on the list is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, which has already been located once. Rising sea levels forced a relocation of the famed landmark nearly 3,000 feet in 1999.

Modern, heavily used sites are not immune to the danger. Also on the endangered list is Kennedy Space Center, home to launches of NASA missions.

The warnings are based on detailed findings from a number of sources, including the Digital Index of North American Archaeology, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and various United Nations groups, that predict a rise in sea level of up to 3.3 feet by 2100. 

A worst-case scenario study from the National Oceania and Atmosphere Administration in March 2016 warned that a sea level rise of 6 feet would force up to 13 million Americans to relocate.

Conducting the study were researchers led by David Anderson, a University of Tennessee archaeologist. Results of the study appear in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

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