Day 4

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Paper title Sensing the invisible: the potential of Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-5P in monitoring the effect of climate change on cultural heritage
  1. Luka Mamić University of Zagreb Speaker
  2. Iva Cibilić University of Zagreb
  3. Lidia Żuk Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan
Form of presentation Poster
  • D2. Sustainable Development
    • D2.12 Cultural and Natural Heritage
Abstract text This presentation aims to consider the potential of Copernicus’ Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-5P missions to estimate the effect of climate change on cultural heritage. Undoubtedly, heritage across the globe is under various constraints resulting from a range of human-induced processes that can be observed in different regions. However, the IPCC 2021 Report leaves no doubt that climate change has become one of the most pressing issues on the scientific agenda. Two intertwined points emerging from this report require particular emphasis. First, widespread, rapid, and intensifying changes in every region of the Earth call for a global strategy for risk assessment. Second, undisputed human influence on the climate requires efficient methods to monitor greenhouse gas emissions. The EU Earth Observation Programmes addressed those issues by launching missions to generate data records that ensure autonomous and independent access to reliable information around the globe.

Climate change and related events (severe weather events, air pollution, etc.) have been recognised for some time as factors affecting natural and cultural heritage. The UNESCO’s statistical analysis of the state of conservation of world heritage properties (2013) includes major factors that were described in the IPCC report as “multiple different changes caused by global warming”, such as more intense rainfalls and associated flooding, sea-level rise and coastal flooding, etc. Local monitoring systems were also applied to observe changes that were caused by these events. However, the application of remote sensing data for cultural heritage protection and management has not yet been explored to its full extent. We can safely assume that majority of archaeological applications of satellite imagery has been focused on processes that can be directly (visually) observed in data. Events such as the aforementioned flooding can be reasonably easily identified and its effect accurately estimated using relatively simple tools. But how can we approach processes that go beyond the visible spectrum and how to evaluate their effect on cultural heritage?

Recent advancements in remote sensing provide a range of analytical tools that helps translate satellite data into physical changes in the climate and their effect upon societies and ecosystems. Cultural heritage may require a different set of ‘translating tools’ that will help understand the effect of climate change not on living organisms and/ or ecosystems but material structures. Using case studies that will explore Sentinel-2 for land cover changes and Sentinel-5P for air pollution, we will address this conceptual and methodological gap. We will demonstrate issues that arise from attempts to adjust methods that have been developed for natural areas and/ or living organisms to cultural heritage sites. We also intend to provide a workflow to process data (particularly Sentinel-5P) in the cultural heritage context. Overall, we will argue for the need to move from site-oriented and local-scale monitoring towards global monitoring system for cultural heritage that will explore more thoroughly the potential of the Copernicus missions.