The Venice Floods – Blame Climate Change?

Late on Tuesday, Nov. 12, high tides from the surrounding lagoon surged onto the more than 100 islands that make up Venice, flooding 85% of the city and damaging artwork and many historic sites. The mayor blamed climate change for the flood. Jim Steele wrote an excellent article about the event and climate change. The Great Flood of 1966 was the worst on record. Since then, Venice has been working on the long-delayed MOSE project which was supposed to prevent flooding. High inflows to the Venice Lagoon from the Adriatic Sea are driven by the strength of the Sirocco and Bora winds that cause local sea level to surge. There has been no trend in the winds. Steele wrote “Dwarfing the 1.4 millimeters per year of estimated sea level rise, from 1930 to 1970 Venice sank at the rate of 2.3 millimeters per year, largely due to ground water extraction. After addressing that problem, the rate of sinking slowed, but Venice continues to sink at a rate of 1 millimeter per year.” The 1996 flood happened during a low tide and the 2019 flood during a high tide.

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