Project facts

Duration: 2004-06-01 - 2007-05-31
Project consortium: Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche (IT), University College London (UK), University of East Anglia (UK), Korrosionsinstitutet SCIAB (SE), Instytut Katalizy I Fizykochmii Powierzchni Polska Akademia Nauk (PL), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (ES), Norsk Institutt for Luftforskning (NO), Ecclesiastical Insurance Group (UK), Biologia Y Medio Ambiente S.L (ES), Korrosions- OCH Metallforskningsinstitutet AB (SE), Ustav Teoretické a Aplikované Mechaniky Akademie Ved Ceské Republicky (CZ)
Funding bodies: Sixth Framework Program
Subject areas: Climate Change, Heritage Management, Monuments - Sites
Contact: Pr. May Cassar (
Budget: € 1 762 380


Climate change over the next 100 years is likely to have a range of direct and indirect effects on the neutral and material environment, including cultural heritage. 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 research 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 change on Europe's built cultural heritage over the next 100 years.
  • To develop mitigation and adaptation strategies for historic building, 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 prediction of the impact of climate and pollution on cultural heritage and investigation of the response of historic materails and structures to future climate scenarios on a European scale. The outcome will allow the definition guidelines and adaptation strategies, leading to possible changes in EC Directives.

Impacts & Results

The Noah's Ark project took a strategic overview of the changing pressures on heritage rather than examining individual monuments. The results cover a wide geographical base and are presented as a vulnerability atlas for Europe and accompanying management guidelines.

The Atlas which underpins current EU policy sustainable development, climate change and cultural heritagen is titled 'The Atlas of Climate Change Impact on European Cultural Heritage Scientific Analysis and Management Strategies' edited by C. Sabbioni, P.Brimblecombe and M. Cassar.

This book aimed to fill the gap in studies on the effects of future climate variations on cultural heritage by presenting maps that link climate science to potential damage to material heritage. The following map typologies have been developed and are included in the atlas: Climate maps; Heritage climate maps; Damage maps; Risk maps and Thematic pages. The maps show the overall patterns of threats, while more detail about the scientific basis of the Noah's Ark project is found on appendices. In addition, the atlas contains guidelines which provide a management context to the scientific findings. The guidelines and atlas have therefore been brought together in this publication. Its purpose is to communicate the science and its outputs to different user groups ranging from policy makers to heritage managers.

The Noah's Ark project was awarded the Europa Nostra Grand Prize for Research in 2009.


Cover image"Pont des soupirs - Venise" by LUMIKS LUMIKS is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.