Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Italy floods prompt fears for future of farming

Tom Kington in the Guardian (UK): The floods that have devastated Italy over the past week could become even more severe in the future, threatening food production and destroying the country's natural beauty, experts warn. Storms have battered ancient towns and left large swaths of farmland in Tuscany under water, prompting a warning from the region's governor, Enrico Rossi, that "climate change is making us get used to ever more violent flooding".

Three people were found dead on Tuesday after their car fell from a collapsed bridge near Grosseto, while the town of Albinia was under two metres of water. As army units were called in to help locals evacuate, towns in neighbouring Umbria were also put on alert and sections of the main road linking north and south Italy were blocked by water. On Monday a 73-year-old man was drowned in his car by rising floodwaters near the walled town of Capalbio, with residents evacuated near Cortona, the setting for the novel Under the Tuscan Sun. Much of the rich farmland of the Maremma had become a lake of mud.

In Venice water levels were receding after the city's sixth-worst flooding since records began in 1872.

Leading Italian meteorologist Mario Giuliacci said: "The Mediterranean has warmed up by 1C to 1.5C in the last 20 years, meaning that Atlantic weather fronts passing over it absorb more vapour and more heat, which means more energy. And that means ever more violent storms and more rain when the fronts hit Italy. "An average of 80mm of rain should fall in Italy in November. In the last 40 years it has gone over 100mm 11 times, seven of which are since 1999," he added....

The Tiber in flood in 2004, shot by Lalupa, public domain

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