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Flooding in Venice worsens off-season amid climate change

October 20, 2021

VENICE — After Venice suffered the second-worst flood in its history in November 2019, it was inundated with four more exceptional tides within six weeks, shocking Venetians and triggering fears about the worsening impact of climate change.

The repeated invasion of brackish lagoon water into St. Mark’s Basilica this summer is a quiet reminder that the threat hasn’t receded, said AP.

Venice’s unique topography, built on log piles among canals, has made it particularly vulnerable to climate change. Rising sea levels are increasing the frequency of high tides that inundate the 1,600-year-old Italian lagoon city, which is also gradually sinking.

Venice’s worse-case scenario for sea level rise by the end of the century is a startling 120 centimeters (3 feet, 11 inches), according to a new study published by the European Geosciences Union.

That is 50% higher than the worse-case global sea-rise average of 80 centimeters (2 feet, 7 1/2 inches) forecast by the UN science panel.

The city’s interplay of canals and architecture, of natural habitat and human ingenuity, also has earned it recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its outstanding universal value, a designation put at risk of late because of the impact of over-tourism and cruise ship traffic.

In 2019, the city of Venice was recently hit by the worst flooding in more than 50 years. Water in the lagoon that surrounds the city rose 1.87 meters higher than normal, very close to the peak levels of the disastrous flood of Nov. 4, 1966. High winds of nearly 100 kilometers an hour made the situation even worse.

The city's pedestrian streets became rushing rivers of brackish water, boats were thrown onto walkways and the crypt of the basilica of San Marco was submerged.

The stories of the damage was viewed with growing sadness and dismay by historians and Venetians. The international community responded with great concern to cataclysms in Venice and assistance from across the world, just like in the aftermath of the 1966 flood allowed the restoration of dozens of damaged monuments, paintings and sculptures, as well as the creation of foundations that still work to benefit the city's artistic treasures. — Agencies


October 20, 2021
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