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Pei-Lin Yu

By: Cienna Madrid   Published 8:38 am / August 24, 2017


Studio portrait of Pei-Lin Yu

Pei-Lin Yu

Associate Professor
Department of Anthropology
College of Arts and Sciences

1,000 year-old-skull of a bull bison excavated from a melting ice patch in Glacier National Park. The park’s high mountains were used for hunting and summer travel by the ancestors of today’s Native Montanans, and the park is surveying ice patches to recover perishable cultural items. Photo credit: Robert L. Kelly

Pei-Lin Yu has been selected by the National Park Service to study how national parks measure the vulnerability of their cultural heritage resources to climate change. Assisted by anthropology graduate researcher Connor Neal, Yu will conduct a nationwide analysis to help parks identify vulnerability indicators and assess best practices for quantifying vulnerability so parks can have a strong basis for funding actions to protect our cultural heritage from climate change. This project is funded through the Rocky Mountains Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit, a national science network.

“Scientists have demonstrated that climate change is having serious impacts to America’s natural ecosystems. But historic and cultural resources like historic buildings, ancient rock art, sites and artifacts, and even traditional songs, stories and ways of knowing also are vulnerable to climate change – and unlike ecosystems, cultural heritage cannot adapt,” Yu said. “Our scientific understanding of impacts to cultural heritage resources is years behind that of natural ecosystems.”