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May 28, 2011

Possible Future Flooding in Venice




Changes in storm patterns in the Adriatic Sea could be a local impact of global warming and this may offset the higher sea levels in a city where the emblematic Plaza de San Marcos and other historic sites are often under water.

"Higher sea levels will be offset by less severe flood storm," he told Reuters Alberto Troccoli, Pye Laboratory of the Organization of Scientific and Industrial Research of the Commonwealth in Australia.

"There's a balancing effect" between the impacts of climate change, said about a study conducted with colleagues in Italy and the United Kingdom and published in the journal Climatic Change this month.

"The episodes of flooding by the tide could not be exacerbated during this century, with potentially beneficial consequences for the conservation of the city," wrote about Venice, one of the cities most exposed to the growth of sea level.

The team projected that the number of floods and storms in a northerly direction across the Adriatic, causing flooding in Venice would be reduced by 30 percent by 2100 due to the storms tend to veer further north in Europe.

Under certain wind conditions, the Adriatic acts as a funnel in which water accumulates to Venice at the north end. Italy is building flood barriers to protect the city.

The most severe combination of storms and high tides in recent decades occurred during the Great Flood of 1966, which raised water levels in Venice about 194 inches above normal.

If sea levels around the world grew only 17 cm by 2100, matching the growth of the twentieth century, the study suggested that "the frequency of extreme tides in Venice would be almost unchanged" because the number of floods and storms would fall.

However, Venice is facing other problems like subsidence caused by extraction of water from aquifers beneath the city, especially the 1950 and 1970.
Venice may be less threatened than was feared by rising sea levels due to the damaging storm surges are likely to be less frequent this century as a side effect of climate change, according to an expert.

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