Advanced Research Workshop (ARW)
"CLIMATE CHANGE AND COASTLINE MIGRATION"
Location: Bucharest, Romania
Date: October 1-5, 2003
Organisation Committee -
List of Participants
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Additional information about the Nato Science Program.
The main objectives of the NATO ARW were:
- to discuss the actual status of our
knowledge about the influence of the climate change and tectonics on the migration of
the coastline as factors for human development in the Circumpontic Region,
identify the main achievements to date, as well as the gaps in knowledge,
discuss a scientific approach for integrating geological, prehistoric, historic and
instrumental data (for the past century) to predict future geoecological situation in
the region for risk assessment in coastal zones under various sea-level scenarios,
to reach a consensus on the issues and develop a joint research strategy for future
- to prepare a proposal "Climate change and migration of the
coastline as factors for human development in the Circumpontic Region: from past to
forecast" for the NATO Science for Peace Sub-Programme.
The Circumpontic Region is defined here in a larger sense as simply geographical one.
It covers a large area from the ancient Manych Strait that lies to the north-east of the
Black Sea, the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov, the Bosporus Strait, the Sea of Marmara, the
Dardanells, the Aegean Sea, the Eastern Mediterranean (Turkey, Israel, Cyprus) and
their coasts. This region is of strategic importance not only for eight coastal
countries (Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Turkey, Greece and Israel)
but also for at least 17 other countries, which share the drainage basin of the
Circumpontic Region, that is more than one-third the size of the European continent.
This region, especially the Black Sea, is where migration of the coastline is especially
pronounced due to its semi-isolation and restricted connection with the open ocean, and
has lately spurred a tremendous international interest as a possible place where the
biblical story of the Great Flood originated. This has encouraged a new round of
research on sea level changes and migration of the coastline in the region. Geological
evidence of the coastline migration integrated with archaeological records provides
insight on development of human cultures and civilisations in the Circumpontic Region,
which is often viewed as the Cradle of Civilisation. Integrated geological, prehistoric,
historic and instrumental (for the past century) data has already been successfully
applied to predict future geoecological situation in a small part of the region, the
Sea of Azov. Therefore, we have reason to assume that they can also be applied on a
larger scale to predict the future of the Circumpontic Region under global climate
change scenarios. At present, geologic and archaeological history of the Circumpontic
Region is fragmental and controversial. A multidisciplinary international approach
is needed, which would combine the existing pieces of the puzzle, and identify those
that wait to be found.
This NATO ARW will promote the integration of the countries' researchers in Earth,
Behaviour and Atmospheric Sciences into the international R&D community. The workshop
will help clarifying the approach to solving the problems outlined above. Printed
proceedings with all oral keynote presentations are intended to be published in the
NATO Science Series.
Type of Workshop
The workshop has as co-directors
Yanko-Hombach, Valentina, Prof.
Avalon Institute of Applied Science
Charleswood Technology Centre
3227 Roblin Boulevard
Winnipeg MB R3R 0C2
Telephone +1 (204) 489-4569
Fax + 1 (204) 489-5782
Panin, Nicolae, Prof.
National Institute of Marine Geology and Geo-Ecology - GeoEcoMar
Dimitrie Onciul Street No. 23-25
Telephone/Fax: +40 (21) 252.25.94
Dr. H. Angelova
Prof. A. Kislov
Dr. G. Lericolais
Prof. A. Selivanov
Prof. A. Tchepalyga
Prof. V. Yanko-Hombach
Prof. Y. Yilmaz
Institute of Underwater Archaeology, Bulgaria
Moscow State University, Russia
Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia
Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
Avalon Institute of Applied Science, Canada
Kadir Has University, Turkey
- Many projects on the Late Pleistocene-Holocene palaeoclimatology, palaeoceanography,
sedimentology, palaeontology, tectonics, and archaeology of the Circumpontic Region are
being carried out or are in progress by a number of institutions worldwide. Within the
European Union and Eastern Europe, this has resulted in many unassembled pieces of a
puzzle, very few attempts being made to synthesise data and interpretations from this
large region. In addition, most of the scientific records obtained by the ex-USSR and
former Eastern Block countries are still largely unknown to the NATO counterparts as
they were published in national languages and have not yet been internationally discussed
owing to the slow pace of east-west scientific dialogue.
- To date, there has been no effort to try and synthesise the geological and
archaeological evidence of the influence of coastline migration on human development
in the Circumpontic Region as a whole area for last 20,000 yrs. The current GE-GLOSS
(Global Sea Level Observing System Sea Level Data Archaeology Project),
which is a part of the
Global Oceanographic Data Archaeology and Rescue (GODAR)
Project, is not an exception. The GE-GLOSS aims to establish high quality global and
regional sea level networks for application to climate, oceanographic and coastal sea
level research based only on the archaeology of the most recent historic (last two-three
centuries) but not prehistoric and early historic sea level records.
- The ARW discussed:
- The influence of past coastline migration on human history in the region. The
Circumpontic Region has been a repository of records on human history al least since Early
Palaeolithic time (Ronen, 1991). Numerous findings of submerged human settlements
(Draganov, 1999) and shipwrecks (Raban et al., 1985) indicate just how important coastline
migration has been on human development (Kaplin et al., 1993). There is an evidence of a
very thin occupation of the terrain throughout Anatolia, Turkey, of Upper Palaeolithic
sites although earlier and later periods are much better represented (Ozdogan, 1998). The
Upper Palaeolithic sites and coastline were "swallowed" and are submerged at
present. The Holocene sea level changes (Pirazzoli, 1991), which had gradual but
fluctuating character in the Circumpontic Region (Yanko, 1990; Tchepalyga, 2001), should
affect migration of ancient people far beyond the immediate coastline, in the hinterland.
According to the hypothesis of W. Ryan and W. Pitman (1997; 1999), a catastrophic
postglacial (8.35 ka BP; Ryan et al., 2003) migration of the coastline due to a rapid
sea level rise in the Black Sea basin dispersed early Neolithic foragers and farmers into
the interior of Europe and thus provided the historical basis for the biblical story of
Noah's Flood. This hypothesis has spurred a tremendous interest by the public, the
scientific community, and the media (e.g., Earth, August, 1998; New Scientist, February
1999; Scientific American, February 1999; Der Spiegel, December 2000; National Geographic,
May 2001; GSA Today, 2002) and encouraged a new round of research (e.g., Ballard, 2000;
Görür et al., 2001; Aksu et al., 2002). There is new evidence of a much earlier
(14.0-11.0 ka BP) flood in the basin due to the massive freshwater overflow from the
Caspian Sea through the ancient Manych Strait, reducing available space and food resources
for Palaeolithic people and likely causing inland migration and the transition from
hunting and gathering to farming and cattle breeding in the region (Tchepalyga, in press;
Yanko and Tchepalyga, submitted).
- The influence of present and future coastline migration in geoecological situation of
the region under global climate change scenarios. The Circumpontic Region is home to a
large percentage of the European citizens, a major source of food and raw materials, a
vital link for transport and trade, the location of some of the most valuable habitats,
and the favoured destination for leisure. Modern humans with their advanced
infrastructure are more affected by the migration of coastlines and by climatic changes,
than their prehistoric ancestry. So far, there is no regional study to use a combination
of prehistoric, historic and instrumental (last century) data to predict anticipated
sea-level changes and geoecological situation in the Circumpontic Region despite the
necessity to cope with the consequences of global warming. Such prediction would provide
a basis for decision-makers to perform necessary risk arrangement (e.g., Ragozin, 1995;
Ragozin, ed., 1997) and will be very important for the coastal planning and ICZM
(Integrated Coastal Zone Management) in the Circumpontic Region. This will be useful to
future perspective of human civilisation under environmental crisis and global climate
change in the coastal zones (Climate Change, 2001), particularly in the Circumpontic
Region. At present, the Circumpontic Region is facing serious problems of coastal erosion,
habitat destruction, water contamination and resource depletion due to the global climate
change. There is clear evidence that anticipated environmental alterations will strongly
affect coastal zones of the region already in this century (e.g., Svitoch, 1997). A rather
fast sea-level rise (0.1-0.5 cm/y) of the Black Sea must be anticipated (IOC/GLOSS
Training…, 1997). The coastline migration dramatically affects coastal geoecology
especially in deltaic areas (Panin, 1999, 2001), the shore-facing quarters of cities and
towns, low-lying agricultural areas, and coastal petroleum and gas production areas. For
example, an increase of the Caspian Sea level by 2.5 m between 1978 and 1995 caused the
shoreline to transgress by several dozens kilometres in some many areas and inundated
coastal areas, causing a rise of the groundwater table and a change in groundwater
composition, it sped coastal erosion, and degraded soils and vegetation. In the contrary,
a drastic sea-level fall during 1930-1977 exposed large areas of the Caspian Sea coastal
zone, induced a drop of the groundwater table and a drying of ecosystems and salinisation
of coastal aquifers (Kaplin, 1997; Selivanov, in press). Therefore, a forecast of the
coastline migration in the future is a vital necessity for assessment of possible losses
in terms of changes in stability and vulnerability of the coastal systems of the
Because of its relevance to (1), (2) and (3) the ARW is necessary and timely.
It is the hope of the scientific core of the NATO ARW that a joint international
project "Climate change and migration of the coastline as factors for human
development in the Circumpontic Region: from past to forecast" will be launched by
the scientists attending the workshop. This international project will include four NATO
countries (Canada, France, Greece, Turkey), one Mediterranean Dialogue (Israel), five
partner (Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine) countries and Switzerland. The
international teams (the "scientific core") have been already established in these
countries as a result of personal meetings, emailing, and telephoning with the scientific
core members by the project co-ordinator, Prof. V. Yanko-Hombach. In preparation of the
future international project outlined above, she presented the main ideas of the
international collaboration on the proposed subject on seminars in Bulgaria, Turkey,
Ukraine, Russia and USA in 2003. The proposed NATO ARW allowed face-to-face discussions
and interactions between all members of the scientific core. It lead to an
outline of the new interdisciplinary research strategy on a national and multinational
level and its formulation.
The NATO ARW was carried out on five days (Wednesday to Sunday), with Wednesday
and Sunday being the arrival and departure days, respectively. The workshop was
divided into 3 sessions, or 1 session per day (see Programme). Each session was started
from 45-minute presentations by keynote speakers and was followed by 30-minutes
presentation and discussions, and how it will be incorporated into the research plan.
On the last day of the workshop, a roundtable meeting summarised the sessions and
splinter groups, and identified the future strategy. A short field trip to the deltaic
areas around Bucharest was undertaken afterwards.
The two co-directors of the conference covered almost all languages to be presented at
the workshop (the Georgian scientists are fluent in Russian; ARW was well equipped; the
host country is moderately inexpensive, and located in the heart of Europe where it can
be reached by bus, train and aircraft easily.
A tentative title of the NATO ARW proceedings to be published in the NATO Science
Series as an output of the meeting:
"CLIMATE CHANGE AND MIGRATION OF THE COASTLINE AS FACTORS FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
IN THE CIRCUMPONTIC REGION" (V. Yanko-Hombach, N. Panin, and W. Ryan, Eds.).
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