October 4 – Water You Worried ABout

A satellite image of Venice (Image courtesy NASA)

A satellite image of Venice
(Image courtesy NASA)

Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Though the city itself dates back to about 200 BCE, the bulk of the buildings were erected during the height of the Reniassance when Venice was a military and political powerhouse that controlled half of the Mediterranean. Thanks to human ingenuity, the original city was built on mud flats in a lagoon which made it very easy to defend. And thanks to human stubborness, the city stayed there even when the buildings started to sink in the mud; the locals just created canals to channel the water and started adding new floors as the old ones dropped below the waters. Since Venice was founded, the local sea level has risen by more than twenty feet.

Venice is a beautiful warning (My camera)

Venice is a beautiful warning
(My camera)

That twenty feet is a very interesting number to climatologists; it is about the amount of sea level rise that we can expect if the ice covering much of Greenland were to be added to the oceans. Right now, the world’s oceans will definitely rise about five inches by the end of the century; that won’t be enough to turn New York City into another Venice, but it will definitely have some fairly important effects. Storm surges will be higher, which means more damage from hurricanes. Beach erosion will happen faster, which means more costly dredging to keep chipping channels open (and more damage from hurricanes). And there will be more salt water invasion of aquifers, which will kill many plants and lead to more damage from hurricanes.



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