Is Climate Change the Reason Behind Venice Floods

Venice, also known as La Dominante or the City of Water, has suffered one of the worst floods in the last 50 years. As of November 26, 2019, the water continues to rise with the arrival of each high tide. For the past few years, the city has sustained mild flooding during the autumn and spring, but the situation in November 2019 has surpassed all the records. People are literally out on the streets with their homes destroyed–they have nowhere to go.

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There is a growing concern amongst the locals that with further flooding in the city, the precious artwork and scriptures might get damaged or flown away. According to a report by Sky, almost 7- percent of the lagoon city is submerged underwater. The highest tide recorded in the past few days was 6.1 feet tall (which is the second-highest ever in modern history). Hence, a state of emergency has been declared by the Italian government.

Is climate change to blame for the Venice flood in November 2019?

On November 13, 2039, the city’s mayor Luigi Brugnaro shared his concerns in a video via a Tweet. In the Tweet, he blamed climate change for the floods. He also demands additional aid from the Italian government. Rebuilding the city will cost millions of Euros. Even the local retail store owners are pleading with the authorities to come up with a long term solution.

Some experts believe that it is unfair to blame climate change for almost every water-related calamity. Marshall Shepherd from Forbes magazine believes that the Tweets from the mayor Luigi Brugnaro were nothing but a hoax. He also shared a post from Reuters that it is the city’s ground level that has been gradually sinking for the past 5 decades.

Every year, the city sinks by approximately one millimeter. And the reason is the soft and shifting geological terrain the city is built on. Hence, the floods in Venice are inevitable and climate change or global warming should not be blamed for it. 

Has the Italian government done anything to manage or avoid floods in the future?

The authorities are well aware of the situation in Venice and they have been working hard to fix the situation. However, due to both climatic changes and human intervention(industries, pollution, etc), the situation has gotten worse and the city had to face another flood this year. 

In the late 70s, the authorities made groundwater pumping illegal in Venice. Due to over pumping in the 60s and 70s, the industries in this part of the country had excessively pumped groundwater which later leads to Land Subsidence. Meaning, the city began to slowly sink as there was no water-support below the ground. Cessation of groundwater pumping bettered the situation momentarily. 

According to EarthAndSpaceNews, the Italian government has been working on a monitoring program for more than 12 years. The program makes use of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Satellites and 50 artificial corner reflectors– placed in flood-affected areas. They also concluded that in some parts of the city, the land subsidence rate is up to 40 millimeters/year. The city locals can only hope for a solution in the future.

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