Scientists from around the world warn that climate change is endangering Venice
30 Sept. 2021
By Andreina Corso
Scientists are alarmed about the future of Venice. There is not a minute to lose, and nothing can be delayed or ignored if we want to save Venice. There is no more margin of error.
A group of expert scientists consulted by the Istituto Veneto delle Scienze, delle Arti e delle Lettere have confirmed the symptoms and the consequences of climactic upheaval. The signs are already clear, and their effects, if not remediated, will be unstoppable and devastating. They also confirm the predictions that continue to alarm us, warning that in the next fifty years the sea level could rise forty centimeters.
The main causes are attributable to global warming, leading inevitably to a rise in sea levels through the thermal expansion of water and the melting of ice on the continental shelves of Greenland and Antarctica. 75% of the increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases is due to our burning of fossil fuels, and the other 25% due to bad land management, such as deforestation, unsustainable agricultural practices and development.
This time the SOS arrives from studies by scientists of unquestionable skill and world fame, working under the aegis of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). Their work reveals truly ominous projections for humanity. Coming together on the necessary fight against time are the new Director of the Istituto Veneto Andrea Rinaldi, and engineer and expert emeritus in hydraulics, and professor Luigi D’Alpaos, long an attentive scholar of the acqua alta phenomenon, excavations in the lagoon and problems with the maintenance of MoSE.
Acting with the same intent are the environmental groups, who have ‘warned’ for years, unheard, of the possible damage to the planet. National Geographic is also moving in search of answers to the many questions that are raised by the health of our planet. Meanwhile we find ourselves faced with the fury of increasingly threatening and frequent floods due to climate change and global warming.
The relationship that has always connected Venice to its lagoon is a delicate ecosystem that has been put at risk by the man’s own hand.
The city rests on a substrate of river debris that is still not stable, and this causes the progressive sinking of the ground. But the impact of a local phenomenon like this adds up to the effects of rising sea levels caused by global warming, transforming a familiar phenomenon like acqua alta into immense deluges that have caused alarm all over the world.
Faced with these scenarios, scientists have made the city a large open-air laboratory, where the effects of climate change on the planet can be measured and understood, and solutions that can save Venice can be developed, and with her, the other coastal cities of the world that are threatened by rising ocean levels.
To manage the fury of the sea and save Venice, the experts are also grappling with the most monumental work of hydraulic engineering ever built by man: MoSE. This system only recently became functional, and for the first time in the city’s history it succeeded in blocking a high tide.
Is Venice finally safe? What further effects of climate change loom on the horizon?
The scientists agree that “Among the principle human activities that are changing the morphology of the lagoon are: mollusk fishing, which is particularly destructive because it removes material from the lagoon floor which is then carried away by the currents. Fishing, along with smaller traffic and large ships impact the lagoon morphology, causing loss of habitat, and consequently loss of biodiversity. Unable to find a habitat, wildlife moves elsewhere”.
Researcher Antonello Paisini of the National Council of Research on Pollution, during an interview with Veneto Governor Luca Zaia, affirmed that “carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere remains there for decades and even centuries. Furthermore, warming of the oceans is slower (but “inexorable”) due to its elevated thermal capacity”. He then reiterated that “With global warming the tropical equatorial currents have widened towards the north: the African anticyclones that are typically on the Sahara Desert now inundate the Mediterranean from south to north, and when they retreat they take currents from the north to the south. When there are currents from south to north (there are often Scirocco currents along the Adriatic), the wind pushes water from the lower Adriatic towards the lagoon of Venice”. “It is sad to consider that the pandemic allowed us to understand that when man takes a step back, the environment responds positively. From the change in the turbidity of the water to the effects on aquatic vegetation, we had a lot of proof in Venice: when the water is clear and the floors aren’t disturbed by fishing, certain species of aquatic plants prosper and hold the sediments in shallow waters, even in case of storms”.
“With the continuing increase in sea level, MoSE will have to be closed more and more often. But what will happen to the lagoon when it ends up closed off semi-permanently, both at the biological level and in terms of habitat? There will be notable changes, and the lagoon could become a stagnant lake. The management of MoSE in the years to come is a serious problem. We are at the beginning of this experiment, but in the long term perspective we must find other solutions”.
Source: La Voce di Venezia