The world has its eyes on Venice, that reached a water height of 1.87 meters on the night of 13-14 November 2019 ,the second-highest level in its history (Bastianello, 2019). It’s hard to imagine the final balance of the damages, while the front page of newspapers shows the most famous monuments in the lagoon overflowed. Without repeating the prior hit, in these days the high tide is still present. Besides the weather conditions’ contribution on the tide level (mainly based on the astronomic causes), let’s try to understand how important is the human influence on the lagoon ecosystem.
In an interview at Agi (Italian Journalist Agency), the oceanographer Gianmaria Sannino, member of ENEA (National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development) clarifies some focal points. First of all, the high tide from the last night is a confluence of many events: the storm surge in Adriatic sea, due to strong wind, and low pressure in Venice, plus astronomic influence on the level sea. “The difference between the effects of normal tide and these additional effects is about 40 – 50 centimeters” he said. According to him, from now on, climate change should cause a rising sea, adding these 40 – 50 centimeters: so every time is going to be high tide, Venice could be overflowed. (Agi, 2019)
Indeed, there is an ample scientific proof regarding climatic warming effects on the sea rising, as the increase in the average global sea temperature and the melting glaciers (M. Zemp, 2019). By the end of this century, the worst case scenario could show a sea level rises about over one meter (IPCC, 2019), involving Mediterranean Sea and Italian coasts as well (F.Antonioli, 2017).
About Venice, Veneto region reports the sea level has increased by 25 centimeters in the last 100 years, related to 2016 (Veneto, 2018): in addition to the climate change, this is due to the “subsidence”, that is the slow collapse of Venice’s ground for natural and antropic reasons.
At the heart of criticism of nowadays there is “MOSE”, a huge feat of engineering around the lagoon, started in 2003 and still incomplete, which role is to protect Venice by the high tide. Already in the past this work has been caught up in some scandals about illegal contributions and kickbacks (Repubblica, 2014).
These years were hard for Venice population. Its number of inhabitants has decreased to about 53.000 (Gazzettino, 2019): among the causes the overtourism plays an important role, causing higher prices and the barbarization of the town’s dailylife (Cricket, 2019).
Despite the last events, local people didn’t’ stop to fight, reacting with great solidarity. People have taken to the streets, helping each other around the narrow “calli” of Venice, after the water flew back from houses and shops. The main characters are the young people, with a series of action aimed at supporting all over the community. Indeed, guys and girls of “Friday for future – Venice” got into action, helping local people to remove garbage and clean up the zone. The volunteers of “Venice Calls” were from the same cloth, engaged in equally important tasks in the most of the discrits of Venice. (Giuffrida, 2019). Because of their magnificent actions of solidarity and love for what is around them, it is essential to spread this example of humanity, without diminishing the importance of all those who help Venice to rise again.
Agi. (2019, november 14). Perché il riscaldamento globale c’entra con l’acqua alta a Venezia. Agi.
Bastianello, R. (2019, November 14). Climate change blamed as floods overwhelm Venice, swamping basilica and squares. Reuters.
Cricket, D. (2019). "No to big ships" demonstration in Venice. Youthreporter.
F.Antonioli, M. (2017). Sea-level rise and potential drowning of the Italian coastal plains: Flooding risk scenarios for 2100. Elsevier.
Gazzettino, I. (2019, May 17). Venezia si spopola sempre di più: il numero degli abitanti sceso sotto quota 53mila. Il Gazzettino.
Giuffrida, F. (2019, November 15). A Venezia arrivano gli “angeli dell’acqua alta”: un esercito di 500 volontari. Open.
IPCC. (2019). Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate.
M. Zemp, M. E. (2019). Global glacier mass changes and their contributions to sea-level rise from 1961 to 2016. Nature 568, 382 - 386.
Repubblica, L. (2014). Mose, inchiesta sugli appalti: arrestato il sindaco di Venezia. Chiesta custodia cautelare per Galan. La Repubblica.
Veneto Region (2018). Rapporto Statistico.