Scientists are about to embark on an exciting project to map the seafloors of the Baltic Sea and North Sea. Led by Professor Vince Gaffney at the University of Bradford’s Submerged Landscapes Research Center, the project has received over 8 million euros in funding. Bradford University is one of four key partners in this collaboration that will start early next year.

The project aims to learn more about how our ancestors lived in areas that are now underwater. It’s an important time for this research as wind farms are making these areas harder for scientists to access. The European Union has provided over 13.2 million euros total to fund SUBNORDICA, a collaboration between researchers from universities in the UK, Denmark, Germany and more.

Using drones, robots and lasers scanned from boats, the team will map the seabed in high detail. Computers and artificial intelligence will help identify places where ancient settlements might still be hiding underwater. This will allow development of offshore areas, like wind farms, to be planned carefully without disturbing important archaeological sites.

Bradford University will host the project’s computer systems. These will help researchers use modeling and AI to search for long-lost Stone Age villages in the North Sea. The oceans have risen over time as Earth’s climate has changed. Around 20,000 years ago when ice sheets melted, sea levels were over 130 meters lower than today.

This revealed millions of square kilometers of new lands around Europe with plains, valleys and coastlines ideal for people to live in. But these areas are now underwater and mostly unexplored. SUBNORDICA aims to discover what life was like for the societies that lived there thousands of years ago.

The team will study data like underwater maps and photos from ports and harbors. Computers will help connect all this different information to reveal what the landscapes and coastlines looked like long ago. Divers will explore known sites, like 8000 year old tree stumps found in Denmark. All this knowledge will guide further study of harder to reach areas.

Together, the international group of scientists hopes to learn more about our deep history and help ensure future development, like wind farms, does not disturb valuable archaeological sites lost beneath the waves. By mapping these sunken landscapes from the past, SUBNORDICA will reveal secrets of the earliest people to live around Europe’s coasts.


Sources

University of Bradford


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