everyone into the gondolas!

By the end of the century, Venice – Italy’s City of Water – could face daily floods, and according to a new study, the costly and controversial flood barriers now being built might not be able to protect it.

Laura Carbognin at the Institute of Marine Sciences in Venice and colleagues combined data on land subsidence in the city with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s forecasts of global sea level rise.

They then calculated how this “personalised” sea-level forecast would change the city’s daily tides. When the tide rises above 110 centimetres, Venetians call it acqua alta (“high water”).

This currently happens about four times a year, but Carbognin’s team found that by the end of the century high water could swamp the city between 30 and 250 times a year. The impact on the local environment would be considerable – Carbognin calls it an “unsustainable aggression”. New Scientist, 24 Aug 2009