Friday, May 27, 2011

Venice may be less at risk from seas than feared

Alister Doyle in Reuters reports on some semi-encouraging news for that most ravishing of cities: Venice may be less at risk than feared from rising sea levels because damaging storm surges are likely to get less frequent this century as a side-effect of climate change, an expert said on Thursday. Shifts in storm patterns in the Adriatic Sea could be a local impact of global warming, and this could offset higher sea levels in a city whose St Mark's Square and other historic areas are often flooded.

"Higher sea levels will be counteracted by less severe storm surges," Alberto Troccoli, of the Pye Laboratory of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Australia, told Reuters. "There's a balancing effect" between impacts of climate change, he said of a study he led with colleagues in Italy and Britain and published in the journal Climatic Change this month.

"Tidal flooding events might not be exacerbated over the current century, with potentially beneficial consequences for the conservation of the city," they wrote of Venice, one of the cities most exposed to a rise in sea levels.

They projected that the number of storm surges northwards through the Adriatic that cause floods in Venice would decrease by about 30 percent by 2100 because storms would tend to shift further north in Europe. Under certain wind conditions, the Adriatic acts as a funnel along which waters build up towards Venice at the northern end. Italy is building flood barriers known as MOSE, Italian for Moses, to protect the city.

The most severe combination of storms and high tides of recent decades happened during the Great Flood of 1966 that pushed up water levels in Venice by 194 cms (76.38 inches) above normal….

Some flooding in Venice, shot by Giovanni.mello, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

No comments: