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SPARC- The effects of climate change on vulnerable alpine heritage environments

SPARC- The effects of climate change on vulnerable alpine heritage environments

SPARC focuses on perennial alpine snow patches as long-term hunting environments. In certain regions, PSPs have been shown to contain important prehistoric artefacts, ecofacts and sites. The low-temperature conditions associated with these sites make for excellent preservation allowing organic remains to survive within the ice, sometimes for thousands of years. Many alpine snow patches are now melting away and important cultural and climatic specimens and information are being subjected to exposure and deterioration.

The SPARC project is fundamentally multidisciplinary, combining studies and analysis from archaeology, glaciology, DNA studies, conservation science and cultural heritage management. The project is organized in six distinct but interrelated work packages.

The SPARC project addresses a set of interrelated challenges regarding on-going developments in these high-mountain environments, both internationally and in Norway in particular.

Firstly, there is the challenge of securing information related to ancient artefacts and heritage environments and uncovering their cultural historical and environmental significance.

Secondly, the project will investigate the present condition and development of snow patches as natural systems in order to be able to ascertain their potential as archives of climatic information, and predict future challenges regarding heritage preservation.

Thirdly, the project’s results will be synthesized in a set of recommendations and guidelines that will aid heritage management, organization and public/ professional dissemination in the future.

Ultimately, SPARC aims to develop an inter-disciplinary methodology to contribute new research-based knowledge to effectively address the complex, inter-related and multidimensional challenges posed by archaeological and ecological snow patches.

In order to strengthen the Norwegian research base, SPARC brings together a number of national and international research institutions that will contribute to this glacial archaeological project.
Our hope is that SPARC will become a focal point for research exchange both nationally and with other regions of the world where such environments are recognized.

The project is funded by The Norwegian research Council (RCN), the Directorate for Cultural Heritage and The Directorate for Nature Management and is a project within The University Museums collaborative research program.

Logo for all involved institutions.

08 Sep 2023

SPARC participants

SPARC participants

Scientific Advisory Board

  • Prof. Albert Hafner, Univ. of Bern, Switzerland.
  • E. James Dixon, Maxwell Museum of Anthropology,  Albuquerque, U.S.A.
  • Tom Andrews, Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, Canada.
  • Richard VanderHoek, Alaska State, Alaska, USA.
  • Valery Monahan, Yukon Govt, Yukon, Canada.
  • Greg Hare, Yukon Govt, Yukon, Canada.
  • Prof. Stephan Gruber, Univ. of Zürich, Switzerland.
  • Prof.Christian Hauck, Univ. of Fribourg, Switzerland.