The Climate Issues Putting Bagerhat at Risk

How Bagerhat became known as "ground zero for climate change"


Domes of Mosque in Bagerhat (2019-05) by CyArkCyArk

Often referred to as “ground zero for climate change,” Bangladesh ranked sixth on the 2018 Global Climate Risk Index, and for many Bangladeshis, particularly in rural, low-lying coastal areas like the Sundarbans, those risks are already unmanageable. 

Floating through BagerhatCyArk

Rising sea levels

Climate experts predict that by 2050, rising sea levels will submerge some 17 percent of Bangladesh’s land and displace in excess of 20 million people. 

Relative sea level rise in Bangladesh is greater than in many other countries, due to the simultaneous submergence of low coastal areas. Moreover, sea level rise and cyclones have combined effects: cyclone-induced storm surges are projected to inundate an additional 15% of the coastal area.    

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3D model of Shait Gumbad Mosque - Bagerhat by CyArkCyArk

Soil salinity

Among the most insidious climate change impacts in coastal Bangladesh is the problem of rising water and soil salinity.

But salinity is not a new issue for Bangladesh...  

Salty air

A distinctive feature of the Sundarbans region, for example, is its salty air. According to the Soil Resource Development Institute (SRDI), salinity affected areas in the coastal region of Bangladesh increased by 26% from 1973 to 2009.   


That prospect of increased salinity in the Khan Jahan ponds, together with efflorescence at the revered Bagerhat mosques, raises the question of the role of these structures in the broader issue of social resilience.  

How can these issues be addressed?

Are there win-win strategies that will address the world heritage conservation issues that could also address other problems? What is the impact on resilience of the community in terms of identifying, pride, and tourism? What would be the impact of migration on the site and living heritage values?  

Discover more

Discover how CyArk uses 3D documentation to empower local experts.

Find out more about ICOMOS' efforts to increase engagement of cultural heritage in climate action here.

Credits: Story

Andrew Potts, ICOMOS Working Group on Cultural Heritage and Climate Change.

This project was made possible through a collaboration between the Department of Archaeology, Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh     

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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