Ahu Nau Nau in Front of the Anakena Beach in Rapa Nui (2019-01) by CyArkCyArk
Unlike many islands in the South Pacific, Rapa Nui has no reef to protect its coast. The island has always been vulnerable to big storms and tsunamis, now exacerbated with sea level rise. It has very light, mineral-poor soil which runs off into the ocean in heavy rain.
The Terrain of Rapa Nui (2019-01) by CyArkCyArk
Creating water supply issues
With no permanent streams or rivers, water provision remains a big issue.
Ranu Raraku crater Rapa Nui by CyArkCyArk
A major impact of global climate change is an overall decrease in rainfall, observable in 2017 with the lowest recorded rainfall ever followed by another exceptionally dry year in 2018. The same year, the freshwater lake in the Rano Raraku crater dried up.
Disrupting wildlife and traditions
As well as being a wildlife habitat, the lake was the focus of the traditional triathlon as part of the Tapati festival which can no longer take place at the lake.
Using LiDAR on the Coat of Hanga Tetenga in Rapa Nui (2019-01) by CyArkCyArk
Undermining the integrity of monuments
Increasing storminess and winds leave the light dry soils vulnerable to erosion, both by wind and by rainfall-driven runoff. This erosion further undermines the integrity of the archaeological monuments and deposits.
Moai on the Coast of Rapa Nui (2019-01) by CyArkCyArk
Effects to agriculture
This also limits the potential for growing foodstuffs.
Professor Jane Downes, ICOMOS Working Group on Cultural Heritage and Climate Change, and Archaeology Institute Director, University of the Highlands and Islands UK.