MONTREAL, Nov. 21, 2019 /CNW/ - Venice, the Italian city known for defying the rules of architecture, is sinking. The coastal city is renowned for its charm, scenic views and gondola rides. Its unique nature attracts millions of visitors yearly, but also makes it susceptible to flooding. Venice was recently breached by what locals call "acqua alta (high water)," causing water levels to rise by up to 2 meters.
Rising Sea Levels:
Rising water levels have plagued Venice for nearly 600 years. As time progresses, the water becomes more difficult to manage. 2 key factors cause global sea levels to rise: thermal expansion and melting ice, more specifically, glaciers and ice sheets.
Global temperatures are rising. Heat causes ocean water to expand. With large bodies of ice melting into the oceans, sea levels are rising fast. Venice and the Adriatic Sea are no exception.
What exactly is subsidence? It's the progressive process of submergence of a surface of land. Simply put, it's when land sinks. Venice has been in an uphill battle against subsidence for longer than many people can remember. Like other cities built on river deltas, the sediment below the surface becomes more compact as time passes.
In most cases, new matter flows in, leaving new sediment deposits and regulating subsidence. However, rivers that once flowed into the Venetian lagoon were rerouted. In other words, Venice is sinking lower with no naturally occurring deposits to reverse the process.
Time Is Ticking:
A 2017 report on sea level change by the Quarternary International detailed how the Mediterranean may be affected. What it revealed raised some concerns. Much of Italy's western coast and regions near the north Adriatic Sea are at risk of being submerged in roughly 80 years.
In fact, scientists predict sea levels will rise by nearly 5 feet by the year 2100. The solution is evident but difficult to attain—deter global warming. Many solutions have been proposed, the most notable is the MOSE project.
The MOSE Project:
MOSE stands for MOdulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico (Experimental Electromechanical Module). The goal of the project is simple: stop Venice from submerging. If the MOSE project comes to fruition, it will be one of the most impressive civil engineering feats the world over.
The idea is that a series of strategically located inflatable gates could be programmed to rise based on the height of incoming tides. Already 35 years in the making, the MOSE project has experienced its fair share of hurdles. The final cost has skyrocketed into the billions.
There is also growing concern that it may lead to increased pollution in the area. Currently, the project is at a standstill, with experts projecting it's completion by the end of 2021.
Despite Venice's current troubles, tourists still visit in record numbers. Some think of being in the City of Canals while it floods as a beautiful and unique experience. "For those who have never visited Venice before, there is so much to see there," says FlightHub and JustFly's Matt Keezer. "Tourists should not be deterred from exploring Venice as part of their Italian vacation, while of course respecting any measures put in place to help the current situation."
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