Flooding in Venice worsens due to climate change, affecting the future of the city

The off-season floods in Venice are now raising fear for the future of the Italian city. 

  • Floods in Venice resulting from climate change spark concerns for the fate of the coastal city. 
  • Since 1872 there have been recorded 25 exceptional floods over 4’7ft(140cm), with two-thirds of them registered in the last 20 years. 
  • The future of Venice and other coastal cities will be discussed at the UN climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, starting October 31.

In August, Venice saw tides rushing more than 16ft(5m) high. The sight was frightening as it occurred off-season when floods are not expected.

Credits: AP

As per Daily Mail, this summer’s invasion of brackish lagoon water into St. Mark’s Basilica has sparked fears about the worsening impact of climate change.

A study published by the European Geosciences Union warns:

“Long-term future projections indicate a large uncertainty in the relative sea level of Venice of between 17 and 120 cm by 2100.”

The fate of Venice and other coastal cities affected by climate change is set to be discussed at the UN climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, starting October 31. 

Credits: AP

As Venice’s lowest spot, St. Mark’s Basilica offers the perfect portion for monitoring the impact of rising seas. Speaking to The Associated Press, Carlo Alberto Tesserin, St. Mark´s chief caretaker, said:

“Conditions are continuing to worsen since the flooding of November 2019. We therefore have the certainty that in these months, flooding is no longer an occasional phenomenon. It is an everyday occurrence.”

The city started keeping records of excessive floods in 1872 whenever the water level rises above 4’7ft(140cm). Two-thirds out of the 25 times this mark has been hit have been registered in the last 20 years. Five of them took place in the short period from November 12 through December 23, 2019.

Credits: AP

Jane Da Mosto, executive director of We Are Here Venice, explained:

“What is happening now is on the continuum for Venetians, who have always lived with periodic flooding. We are living with flooding that has become increasingly frequent, so my concern is that people haven’t really realized we are in a climate crisis. We are already living it now. It is not a question of plans to deal with it in the future. We need to have solutions ready for today.”

Venice’s defense has been entrusted to the Moses system of moveable underwater barriers.

The project’s cost has been estimated at around $7 billion(€6 billion), but it is still in the testing phase. Rome’s government considered giving the city’s defense under ministry control to speed its completion following the devastation of the 2019 floods.

However, the project has been delayed until 2023, with another $500 million for “improvements.”

Credits: AP

Commissioner Elisabetta Spitz stated:

“We can say that the effective life of the Moses is 100 years, taking into account the necessary maintenance and interventions that will be implemented.”

Until the project receives final approval, the Moses barriers won’t be raised for floods of 3’7ft(110cm).

Tesserin plans to protect St Mark’s Basilica by installing a glass wall around its base. The wall eventually will protect marshy lagoon water from seeping inside, where it deposits salt that eats away at marble columns, wall cladding, and stone mosaics.

Although the project was supposed to be finished by Christmas, the chief caretaker says they will be lucky to complete it by Easter.

Credits: AP

The ongoing climate crisis is dramatically damaging local businesses. Annapaola Lavena, speaking from behind metal barriers that kept waters reaching 3’5ft(104cm) from invading her marble-floored café, commented:

“We need to help this city. It was a light for the world, but now it needs the whole world to understand it. The acqua alta is getting worse, and it completely blocks business. Venice lives thanks to its artisans and tourism. If there is no more tourism, Venice dies. 

We have a great responsibility in trying to save it, but we are suffering a lot.”

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