The threat of climate change is increasing by the day, and now scientists have revealed that the threat is also very real for a number of ancient Greek monuments, including the Acropolis, with signs already visible.
The marble is being eroded by air pollution and acid rain, while droughts and torrential rain are effecting the structures of ancient walls and temples.
“The walls of the (ancient) city have more erosion than in the past,” Maria Vlazaki, General Secretary of the Greek Culture Ministry, told Reuters.
The threats to world heritage were addressed by academics and policy makers who met in Athens on Saturday at a conference jointly hosted by the Greek government, the UN and UNESCO.
They discussed the measures that would need to be taken to counter the effects of climate change, and are looking to have the matter included on the agenda for the upcoming UN Summit for Climate Change, which is taking place in New York in September.
The Acropolis, which dates back to the 5th century BC, has been at the centre of ongoing preservation efforts for decades. But now there is increasing concern over the numerous ancient sites across the country that are situated on sites exposed to the elements.
While environmental damage and deterioration have always been a challenge, Dimitrios Pandermalis, director of the Acropolis Museum, said the threats are certainly accelerating.
“The scale of things is different and the destruction can be irreversible,” he said.
Ms Vlazaki agrees.
“Every year, we have more cases… We give more money, unexpected money to protect the walls of the (ancient) cities that had no problems before, to protect the coastal area,” she said.
With extreme weather events having become more frequent in Greece, from forest fires and flooding to drought, to help better protect them Professor Christos Zerefos told Reuters that Greece needs better shelter for its monuments and a monitoring system to provide additional protection when required.