Climate change will impact different sites in radically different ways
Flooding is just one of the many effects caused by climate change. With higher frequency of occurrences, it threatens many vulnerable areas and regions globally.
The damage from climate change to the world's heritage sites is a threat that is not often considered with paramount importance.
However, natural and man-made heritage sites throughout the world are in danger of being fundamentally altered, damaged or destroyed by climate change.
Climate change will impact different sites in radically different ways. Some will be hit by flooding, like Venice; others by other extreme weather events or rising temperatures.
For instance, George Town, the capital of the Malaysian state Penang faces rising sea levels, landslides and more severe typhoons. The Yellowstone ecosystem in the western United States faces melting snows, more frequent wildfires and a changing ecosystem. According to experts, solutions to saving these sites will be varied, although many will be very expensive.
As the city is built on marshland at the edge of a lagoon, few places in the world are as threatened by climate change as Venice. Its existence has always required maintaining a careful balance between the city and the natural world. But in recent years, climate change has threatened to throw off the balance.
Venetians have always lived with flooding, often caused by the phenomenon known as 'acqua alta' - high water - which are unusually high tides. However, these types of floods used to be relatively uncommon, because the Mediterranean historically has not had significant tides.
As sea levels rise, these types of tides - and the flooding they cause—have become more common. This November, Venice experience a record three 'acqua alta' events in one week that flooded the historic city.
Skara Brae in the Orkney Islands
Neolithic village Skara Brae in Scotland's Orkney Islands is one of the most vulnerable sites along the coasts. The village was inhabited from 3200 to 2200 BCE, overlapping with the period when Stonehenge was built.
In Skara Brae's case, the biggest danger is that it could be literally washed away despite a sea wall protecting the site. The sea wall is unstable and could eventually be breached; the area not protected by the wall visibly erodes after storms.
Yellowstone park encompasses 12 to 22 million acres in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Yellowstone is not going to be swept into the ocean and vanish; however, it could look very different as it is altered by climate change.
Although the changes may be too slow for most visitors to immediately notice, over time, the composition of plants and animals that live in the park is expected to change - which may mean the land has less forest and more scrub.
George Town, the capital of the Malaysian state Penang
Unusually strong hurricanes may become more common as the globe warms. In combination with rising sea levels, this is especially threatening to historic neighbourhoods in many cities, which were often built low and sit close to the sea.
George Town, the capital of the Malaysian state Penang, is in danger because its historic area is low. The city, which was a colonial town and trading hub, was famed for its multicultural heritage, including unique and varied architecture.
However, as the buildings are made of wood, they are susceptible to rotting and insect damage if they get wet. Heavy rainfall caused by typhoons, can also lead to landslides, which can flow downhill towards historic areas and the people who inhabit them.
The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef northeast of Australia is more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than any other world heritage site. Corals around the world are increasingly undergoing 'bleaching' - going white - which can cause mass die-offs.
Corals bleach when under stress, especially from higher temperatures. There has been 89 percent decline in the spawning of new coral in the Great Barrier reef and the situation is likely to only get worse as experts report.