Monitoring the transformation of historic features in Antarctica and Svalbard: Local processes and regional contexts

Ricardo Roura

Historic sites in the Polar Regions contain the material remains of past activities of exploration and exploitation. These sites are subject to transformation by cultural and non-cultural (natural) processes since their abandonment to the present. For research and management purposes it is important to monitor and explain these changes. My lecture focuses on the transformation of historic features in Antarctica and Svalbard as assessed through repeat photography. Seven historic features were selected representing a range of site types and past and present site functions. Data collection was based on the opportunistic reproduction of photographs of historic features taken up to 20+ years previously. Data analysis was made using the concepts of site formation processes developed by Michael B. Schiffer (1983, 1987). Time-serial changes were observed in the seven photo-couples examined here. No feature degraded significantly during the monitoring period; rather, several features were restored in different ways. Changes were interpreted to result from a range of cultural processes (including conservation, research, and tourism) and natural processes (mainly wind action). Local changes take place in the context broader regional developments in the Antarctica and Svalbard. Despite the “time capsule” narratives about some sites, historic sites in the Polar Regions are dynamic entities that not only reflect the past as it once was but are also a window onto the present.
Willem Barentsz Poolinstituut

Bundeling van kennis, onderzoek en onderwijs over de Noord- en de Zuidpool

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