Lidar of Pre-History Settlement Informs Adaptation Today

The Takeaway: Digital Coast data were used to document shoreline changes over time and peer into the future.

Researchers studying the island of Ofu used Digital Coast lidar and other data to learn how islanders thousands of years ago flourished despite sea level changes and other environmental stressors.

The data showed Ofu’s western coast moved an estimated 200 meters toward the sea during the first millennium A.D. because of sediment buildup. The islanders adapted by moving inland, depending less on marine resources, and focusing on agricultural production and collection.

The prehistoric population was much larger than today, proof that this agricultural strategy was successful. Officials and managers in American Samoa are considering these findings as they adapt to climate change in ways that best support the local economy, ecosystem, and community. (2017)

More Information: Story from the Field

Partners: North Dakota State University, The National Science Foundation, University of Auckland