Venice’s Uncertainty

A new floodgate system should protect the city from high tides—unless climate change interferes.

Eric Jaffe in Smithsonian Magazine:

Screenhunter_07_mar_22_1329Fabio Carrera has been studying the Venice lagoon since 1988, so when he heard a high tide siren one evening in 2002, it wasn’t the first time. But it might have been the strangest.

The sirens warn Venetians that the tide has reached roughly 43 inches—enough to spread shallow water across 12 percent of the city. These alarms typically sound in fall or winter. But here stood Carrera in early June and the tide had reached more than 47 inches, the only summer tide above 43 since modern records began in 1923.

To Carrera, a Venice native and urban information scientist at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, the event was an early symptom of the impact climate change is having on sea levels in Venice. “Things seem to be off,” he says. “Things like a weird summer high tide—those are the best indicators that something’s happening in the lagoon.”

More here.