Paphos is among 37 UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Mediterranean at risk of destruction in the next century from severe flooding and coastal erosion, new research shows.
A team of academics, led by Lena Reimann from the Kiel University in Germany, created a database of all the at-risk UNESCO sites and used mathematical models to predict how rising sea levels would impact them.
The scientists found that of the 49 coastal sites studied, more than three-quarters (37) are at risk of a severe flood event by the year 2100.
Besides Paphos, the list includes Rhodes, the Venetian lagoon and the Amalfi coast.
The authors write in their study: “As the risk of coastal hazards such as flooding and erosion increases with sea-level rise, a considerable number of coastal World Heritage Sites will gradually be exposed to these hazards in the future.”
‘This threatens the Outstanding Universal Value of affected sites and potentially leading to losses in economic revenue.’
The researchers assessed Mediterranean cultural World Heritage Sites (WHS) at risk from coastal flooding and erosion under four sea-level rise scenarios until 2100.
They said of 49 cultural WHS located in low-lying coastal areas of the Mediterranean, 37 are at risk from a 100-year flood and 42 from coastal erosion, already today.
Until 2100, flood risk may increase by 50% and erosion risk by 13% across the region, with considerably higher increases at individual WHS.
In total, 47 WHS may be at risk from at least one of the two hazards by the end of the century, with Piazza del Duomo, Pisa potentially at risk from flooding only and seven sites from erosion only.
Based on these results, only two sites, Medina of Tunis and Xanthos-Letoon, are not at risk from any of the two hazards by 2100.