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New ways to chart our maritime past
Date:8/19/2010

fall or wind and the topographic lines of the landscape. These three parameters are mutually dependent.

"The climate-space may change rapidly, and in step with changing parameters. Wind direction may change within minutes, and vegetation over a few seasons," says Nitter.

Go with the wind

Iron Age vessels could be landed in very shallow waters, which are now only accessible by dingy boats. As ships got bigger and deeper draught, a number of landing sites of the Viking and early Middle Ages were abandoned during the 14th and 15th centuries.

The climate-space concept is particularly helpful in finding the oldest seafaring routes and landing places. By using this method, scientists can estimate wind and wave conditions inside a fiord. They may also assess the fetch the distance over which the wind of a certain speed blows - and thereby determine the height of the waves. By calculating wind and waves, scientists are able to chart landing sites which are no longer in use.

"By applying fetch and climate-space calculation to a particular landing site, you will see that the location of the harbour is adapted to the prevailing wind directions and most favourable wave conditions," says Nitter.

After locating the best prehistoric landing places, we are likely to find cultural monuments, she asserts.

Different protection strategies

"Scientists have issued some alarming conservation forecast for 2050 and 2100. When sea levels rise because of global warming, the maritime environment is bound to change. How will we then be able to protect our cultural heritage?" Nitter asks.

Elvestad, Selsing and Nitter are concerned about Norway's marine cultural heritage. They urge Norway's Directorate for cultural heritage to consider the erosion of sediments, which according to new analyses happens faster than expected. Furthermore, it should take into account the rising sea levels, which will requi
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Contact: Siri Pedersen
siri.pedersen@uis.no
475-183-2632
University of Stavanger
Source:Eurekalert

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