Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Environmental sciences

Publication Details

Successfully submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) to the Technological University Dublin in 2014.


The affect climate change will have on cultural heritage preservation poses a global challenge and is being addressed by international organisations such as UNESCO and ICOMOS. The aim of this doctoral research is to assist heritage managers in understanding the implications of climate change for the sites in their care. It addresses the question of how to approach the assessment and measurement of climate change impacts on cultural heritage. The potential future effects of climate change on cultural heritage in temperate climates are discussed and current international practice in the management of climate change impacts on cultural heritage is investigated. The results reveal several issues currently of concern amongst practitioners; namely ‘what’ to monitor, ‘how’ to monitor and how to interpret results when dealing with the highly complex and long-term issue of climate change impacts. A Vulnerability Framework for site based evaluations is defined and adapted specifically for cultural heritage. This six step method relies on expert judgement and stakeholder involvement; it is a place based approach studying the coupled ‘human-environment system’. The Framework is illustrated through the assessment of the vulnerability of Ireland’s World Heritage Sites, Skellig Michael and Brú na Bóinne, to the impacts of projected climate change up to 2100. The results suggest that the projected alterations in rainfall will be the most problematic climate change factor for both sites. Climate change indicators developed as part of the Vulnerability Framework are proposed as a solution to the problem of longterm monitoring. The development of a general Toolbox of Indicators is accompanied by the design and pilot trial of a Legacy Indicator Tool (LegIT). This tool, for tracking the surface weathering of stone and related materials, can be tailored to the needs of individual heritage sites and is currently being piloted at five monuments in Ireland, including the two case studies. Phase One – Initial Vulnerability Assessment Cycle. Phase Two – Subsequent ongoing Adaptation and Review Cycle. Cultural Heritage Management Model developed for the assessment of, and adaptation to, climate change impacts In this research transferable methodologies for the site level assessment and measurement of climate change vulnerabilities are developed and applied in practice. The Vulnerability Framework, Impacts Matrix, Toolbox of Indicators and Legacy Indicator Tool (LegIT) are original and transferable outputs. They will aid decision makers with planning and prioritisation for the case study sites and provide a management model that has the potential to facilitate assessments at other sites in Ireland and internationally.