1.The Climate Change scenario and its impact on Cultural Heritage

Europe has a significant cultural diversity together with exceptional ancient architectures and artefact collections that attract millions of tourists every year. This incalculable value and global assets have to be preserved for future generations. Environmental factors, worsened by the increasing climate change impact, represent significant threats to European Cultural Heritage (CH) assets as Monuments, Historic structures and settlements, Places of worship, Cemeteries and Archaeological sites. The UNESCO sites in Europe are almost 400, located in different Climatic European Regions.

The globally averaged combined land and ocean surface temperature data were characterized by a warming of 0.85 [0.65 to 1.06]°C over the period 1880 to 2012. Changes in extreme weather and climate events have been observed since about 1950 in terms of: decrease in cold temperature extremes; increase in warm temperature extremes; increase in extreme high sea levels; increase in the number of heavy precipitation events in a number of regions. Climatic change projections forecast a severe impact on air-sea-land environment since warming will continue beyond 2100. The global ocean will continue to warm during the 21st century. About 70% of the coastlines worldwide are expected to be affected by a sea level change within ±20% of the global mean. In this framework, impacts from recent climate-related extreme events, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, landslides, cyclones and wildfires, reveal significant vulnerability and exposure of built CH to current climate variability. Therefore, it becomes mandatory to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate changes in terms of long term management and to implement on time quick and reliable response to extreme climate events, as clearly stated also in the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions “Towards an integrated approach to cultural heritage for Europe” of July 2014, where “Global warming and climate change, in particular rising sea levels and the increased occurrence of extreme weather events” represent a challenge to be addressed to ensure the sustainability of Europe's CH.

The Norwegian Meteorological Institute in cooperation with EASAC (European Academies Science Advisory Council) has reported the outlook for Climate Change specifically for Europe in “Extreme Weather Events in Europe: preparing for climate change adaptation” -October 2013 - ISBN (electronic) 978-82-7144-101-2.

The main conclusions are listed below:

1. The main tool for providing insights into possible climate futures is computer modelling. Using modelling studies with other inputs, some of the trends for the future can be seen. In particular, a consensus is emerging about the plausible future pattern of extreme weather events in Europe. Heat waves are very likely to become more frequent, with increased duration and intensity, while the number of cold spells and frost days are likely to decrease. Fewer cold extremes are expected, but occasional intense cold spells will still occur, even in the second half of the 21st century.

2. Climate model simulationssuggest more frequent droughts throughout Europe, although flash and urban floods triggered by local intense precipitation events are also likely to be more frequent. Other likely consequences of climate change include decreased annual river flow in Southern Europe and increased water stress in regions that are already vulnerable to reductions in water resources.

3. Studies suggest higher precipitation intensity for Northern Europe and increased dry-spell lengths for Southern Europe. High intensity and extreme precipitation are expected to become more frequent within the next 70 years.

4. It is currently not possible to devise a scientifically sound procedure for redefining design floods used, for example, in planning for food defense (for example, 100-year floods) due to the large range of possible outcomes.

5. Climate model simulations indicate an increase in windstorm risk over Northwestern Europe, leading to higher storm damage when there is no adaptation. Over Southern Europe, severe wind storms are projected to decline.

The report indicates also the present European policies for adaptation strategies in response to change in extreme weather, active for the most relevant economic sectors and that the clear diversification of Europe for its climatic subregions implies different impacts and adaptation methodologies.

Even if not listed among the most relevant economic sectors, the Cultural Heritage sector could be heavily affected by climate changes effects, directly and indirectly. The negative climate change impact on CH assets occurs along two main ways: (1) the direct physical effects on the buildings or structures and (2) the effects on social structures and habitats. The direct physical impacts on built heritage due to climate change are well summarized in “Predicting and managing the effects of climate change on World Heritage”, while general guidelines are indicated in “Cultural Heritage Assets addressing Climate Change impacts on Infrastructure: preparing for change”.

The effects of floods, extreme wind storms or rains on these assets are clearly identifiable but it could be worth to note that all these effects are seriously amplified on ancient and fragile assets where advanced techniques, commonly used for modern buildings and structures, cannot be applied to preserve their originality. Moreover, ancient paintings as well as ancients structures, are very sensitive to environmental parameters (e.g. level of moisture in the air, temperature, etc.) and their relative quick leaps which undermine the asset from the inside (mould, thermal stress, etc.). Again, in order to preserve ancient buildings and artefacts, dedicated technique, material and methodologies have to be applied to these important and valuable heritages.

Climate change has also societal and cultural consequences related to the degradation of the property, which could force population to migrate (under the pressure of sea-level rise, desertification, flooding, etc.) leading, among the rest, to the loss of immaterial cultural heritage like rituals and cultural memory sometimes essential to ensure a proper maintenance of CH assets. The concrete risk is not only the loss of historical valuable assets from an economical point of you, but also, and even worst, the loss of important components of individual and collective identity. In conclusion, assessment and mitigation of the impacts of climate change on CH must account for the complex interactions among physical, natural, cultural, economic and social aspects.

In Europe, the huge number and diversity of CH assets, together with the different climatological sub-regions picture as well as the different adaptation policies to Climate Change adopted (or to be adopted) by the different Nations, generates a very complex scenario: therefore, the HERACLES proposed solution for the maintenance and remediation of CH assets, is based on a systematic conceptual approach, taking into account these particular parameters, but it is realized through a flexible, modular system which can be integrated, allowing its customization to the different user needs and standards.

2. HERACLES Objectives

In order to address all the above challenges, the concept underpinning HERACLES project is to propose a holistic multidisciplinary and multi-sectorial approach with the aim to provide an operative system and eco-solutions to innovate and to promote a strategy and vision of the future of the CH resilience. According to DRS 11, Disaster Resilience & Climate Change Topic 3, the overall objective of HERACLES is the set-up of an interoperative operational chain (remote and local monitoring, simulating and forecasting, characterizing, maintaining, restoring, etc.), with the purpose to increase the resilience of a CH assets supported by a decision support system and innovative eco-solutions. This system is conceived to be operationally available for decision makers at different levels as well as to the different actors involved in the mitigation of the Climate Change effects on CH vulnerable assets for promoting concerted actions. As a consequence, integrated innovative solutions and conservation techniques in the cutting-edge of the present state of art will be delivered by the present project. Therefore, HERACLES requires research and expertise on different fields such as: user needs assessing, forecasting and modelling of the climate events, sensing and ICT systems, designing and development of eco-innovative materials, defining new standard operative procedures, organization of training and education. HERACLES team has been built to cover all these specific competences according the very deep experiences and skills of individual partners. According to the described concepts, the general objectives of HERACLES project are summarized as follows:

- Objective 1: Development and validation of a scalable and flexible innovative ICT platform able to collect and integrate heterogeneous data for a situational awareness and decision support.

- Objective 2: Design and implementation of new environmentally sustainable solutions and materials for the long-term maintenance and restoration of CH, under the climatic change impact, taking also into account the economical sustainability and the cultural and social integrity. Outcomes of the HERACLES platform and new solution/materials identified will be strictly correlated in a iterative process where new designed and adopted solutions for the interventions represent information to be ingested in the ICT platform in order to identify proper maintenance, remediation and restoration actions.

- Objective 3: Elaboration and integration of forecast climate models and experimental data into the platform as start-point of the local CH-specific analysis where implementing the solutions developed during Objective 2.

- Objective 4: Set-up specific guidelines for long-term prevention and maintenance actions, able to account specifically the CH site features and the risks affecting it, and for the operational procedures for risk management.

- Objective 5: Strategies and tools to promote HERACLES results to a widespread arena of recipient communities.

- Objective 6. Demonstration of the effectiveness of HERACLES at three challenging tests beds: two are in Crete, Greece, the Knossos Palace and the coastal Venetian fortification with a focus on the Sea Fortness of “Koules” (both on the UNESCO Tentative List); the third one is the historical town of Gubbio in Italy (on the Tentative List of immaterial UNESCO Heritage. In addition to their historical value, these sites are affected by different kinds of hazards due to climate change effects, that can be generalized to several other areas in Europe and worldwide (see sites description).

HERACLES strategic objectives listed above will be pursued by the achievement of the specific technical objectives to be reached during the projects lifetime, in particular:

1. Improved methodologies and analysis taking into account climatic change impact (at European and proper regional downscaling) for weather forecasting (with emphasis in extreme events frequency of occurrence and intensity) and identification of the relationship between meteo-climatic parameters and environmental risks (in a holistic approach of a coupled air-sea-land interaction) for CH.
2. Development of a model for monitoring and mitigating these risks.
3. Design and implementation of an integrated approach, based on both remote sensing and in-situ techniques with a minimal or not invasive features, able to couple structural long term monitoring and quick damage assessment of the site and the single structures.
4. Development of methodologies able to integrate monitoring data with structural models for a vulnerability assessment.
5. In situ and ex-situ physical-chemical characterization of the CH assets, i.e. materials constituting the assets and their degradation process and causes.
6. Development of an ICT platform enabling a situation assessment / awareness building information and decision support system for the full implementation of diagnosis, monitoring, remediation and crisis management services, through the integration of multi-source data.
7. Develop a very high resolution climatic dataset by applying dynamical downscaling techniques to General Circulation Models (GCMs). High (3x3km) resolution analysis will be achieved by dynamic downscaling of the GISS GGCM ModelE2 using the WRF meteorological model based on the low resolution GISS GGCM ModelE2 combined with the Russell ocean model. Output of HERACLES will be a maximum resolution of the climate dataset (Start project 27x27 km, Midproject 9x9 km, End of project 3x3 km).
8. Design and formulation of innovative and environmentally sustainable materials for building elements, specifically tailored for maintenance and restoration on the basis of the integrated indications received from the previous actions about the risk factors affecting CH induced by climate changes.
9. Assessment of the applicability of the new materials in order to evaluate the contribution to preventive conservation and consequently, to the sustainability and authenticity of the cultural assets. In this phase a first scale-up of the technologies to the market level will be tackled. As the same time, the study of their long-term behaviour on the treated works of art will be evaluated.
10. Development of industrial processes for transferring the materials technology to the market.
11. Definition of environmentally sustainable and cost-effective actions for the long-term maintenance, conservation and restoration (important the role of AB).
12. Definition of the operational protocols for the overall CH risk cycle management(important the role of AB).
13. Sharing of knowledge and networking through dissemination of the developed technologies and best practices