Lost villages, ancient ruins, WWII ships uncovered as extreme heat lowers water levels

A WWII-era landing craft used to transport troops or tanks was revealed on the shoreline near the Lake Mead Marina as the waterline  lowers June 30 in Boulder City, Nev.
A WWII-era landing craft used to transport troops or tanks was revealed on the shoreline near the Lake Mead Marina as the waterline lowers June 30 in Boulder City, Nev.

Ancient relics, prehistoric treasures and medieval villages are among the underwater artifacts that have resurfaced as water levels around the world plunge because of drought.

This year, the United States has been hit hard by major flooding events, water shortages and scorching temperatures. Multiple sets of human remains have resurfaced in Lake Mead as water levels continue to recede.

Climate change affects everything from agriculture to energy transport, and many areas are not equipped with the infrastructure to deal with such extremes.

Europe is facing record heat waves. China issued a drought emergency this week as areas of the Yangtze River dry up, Chinese state media says.

It also upends the physical and mental well-being of those who are most impacted. Poor people and other marginalized groups often bear the greatest brunt of climate change, according to the United Nations.

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Eerie photos show reemerging artifacts once lost to natural forces or for the sake of humans. Here's a look at what's been rediscovered.

Ancient Buddhist statues

Three ancient Buddhist statues believed to be around 600 years old were revealed on a previously submerged island in the Yangtze River amid a severe drought and heatwave in China’s Southwest.

'Spanish Stonehenge'

Spain in July experienced its hottest month since at least 1961, leaving Spanish reservoirs at just 40 percent of capacity on average earlier this month, according to Reuters.

The Dolmen of Guadalperal, or “Spanish Stonehenge,” in Spain’s province of Cáceres is fully exposed‎ from low water levels.

The prehistoric stone circle with more than 100 standing rocks was discovered by German archaeologist Hugo Obermaier in 1926 and dates back to around 7,000 years ago.

Amalie Garcia, 54, stands next to The Dolmen of Guadalperal, a megalithic monument that emerged due to drought at the Valdecanas reservoir in El Gordo, western Spain, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022. In the wake of three heatwaves and little rain in sight, Spain's reservoirs are getting emptier by the week, and not just in traditionally more arid southern part of the country. Spain's drought began early in the year after the country suffered its second driest winter in more than 60 years, according to the government.
Amalie Garcia, 54, stands next to The Dolmen of Guadalperal, a megalithic monument that emerged due to drought at the Valdecanas reservoir in El Gordo, western Spain, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022. In the wake of three heatwaves and little rain in sight, Spain's reservoirs are getting emptier by the week, and not just in traditionally more arid southern part of the country. Spain's drought began early in the year after the country suffered its second driest winter in more than 60 years, according to the government.

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The rocks became submerged in the 1960s during a rural development project under Francisco Franco’s dictatorship, according to NASA. In 2019, the entire structure was exposed for the first time since the Valdecañas reservoir was filled during the project.

Church of Sant Romà

North of Barcelona in the Sau reservoir, the Church of Sant Romà – which was built in the 11th century in the village Sant Romà and disappeared underwater in 1963 when a nearby dam was built, according to Religiana – has become fully exposed.

This photograph taken on Feb. 8, 2022, shows an aerial view of the partially submerged Church of Sant Roma, visible due to the low water level of the Sau reservoir, in Vilanova de Sau, Catalonia.
This photograph taken on Feb. 8, 2022, shows an aerial view of the partially submerged Church of Sant Roma, visible due to the low water level of the Sau reservoir, in Vilanova de Sau, Catalonia.
Visitor take sun at Sau reservoir, currently at 37% capacity on August 13, 2022 in Vilanova de Sau, Spain. Spain's water resources, which are largely devoted to the irrigation of agricultural land, face an uncertain future with 75% of the country in risk of desertification.
Visitor take sun at Sau reservoir, currently at 37% capacity on August 13, 2022 in Vilanova de Sau, Spain. Spain's water resources, which are largely devoted to the irrigation of agricultural land, face an uncertain future with 75% of the country in risk of desertification.

Nazi warships

Europe's second longest river, the Danube, is facing a persistent drought.

Dozens of Nazi Germany's warships that were sunk during World War II have resurfaced in the river this year.

Lake Mead

A crashed B-29 Superfortress, prehistoric salt mines, handguns, baby strollers, vintage beer cans, fake and real human skeletons, ancient arrowheads and dozens of sunken boats have been found at Lake Mead, the nation's largest built reservoir surface.

The lake was created by blocking the Colorado River with the Hoover Dam. Drought and heavy water usage by nearby states has diminished Lake Mead's water level for years, dropping more than 170 feet since the reservoir was full in 1983.

Dinosaur tracks in Texas

Just this week, the Dinosaur Valley State Park revealed the severe drought in Texas has revealed new dinosaur tracks after the water in the Paluxy River receded.

Newly discovered dinosaur tracks at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas. Drought conditions revealed the tracks, which are typically underwater and covered with sediment.
Newly discovered dinosaur tracks at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas. Drought conditions revealed the tracks, which are typically underwater and covered with sediment.

These new tracks, park superintendent Jeff Davis told USA TODAY, "either haven't been seen for decades, or you know, that maybe haven't been seen by anybody in anyone's living memory. So that is what makes it kind of special, what's going on right now."

Contributing: Mike Snider, USA TODAY

Camille Fine is a trending visual producer on USA TODAY's NOW team. 

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Nazi ships, Buddhist statues: Artifacts reemerge due to heat