Venice Flooding: Is Global Warming To Blame? [PHOTOS]

By Staff Reporter on November 13, 2012 3:35 PM EST

Venice under water (Photo: Reuters)
Venice under water (Photo: Reuters)

Severe flooding has affected at least 70 percent of Venice as up to five feet of water disrupt the city's low-lying regions including the beautiful St. Marks Square.

According to the Ansa news agency, the two days of record heavy rainfall followed by strong winds have led to the sixth highest water level since 1872. In fact, the water levels are so high that the city is now paralyzed by power outages, crippled transportation, and has even caused forced evacuations.

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Due to the disastrous flooding, four people in Tuscany were killed when a flood bank failed to hold. What's more, another three victims were killed when a bridge near the city of Grosseto collapsed during the flood. Finally, scores of businesses and homes have been destroyed by violent mudslides, said BBC.

Trains between Grosseto and Orbetello have been halted since Monday night while the Florence A1 highway has been forced for closure as well. Tuscany governo Enrico Rossi called for the nation's troops and first responders to aid the region's critical levels of flooding.

The record rainfall coincided with Italy's seasonal "acqua alta," highwater caused by periodic high tides with strong winds.

In fact, according to the city's environmental officials, Venetian waters have already been noticeably higher than normal for two weeks now, long before the rainstorm. What's more, a constant rise in sea water levels has also pointed a number of Italy's scientists towards global warming. Finally, the city of Venice has also been sinking at a rate of 2mm per year, a trend that scientists attribute to constant extraction of water from below ground.

Even before the storm, Venetian waters have been higher than normal for more than two weeks now. The seasonal "acqua alta," or high water, periodically occurs when high tides coincide with strong prevailing winds.

The city is currently working hard to develop a system of floating dams that are designed to protect Venice from high waters. A project that will cost approximately €6 billion ($7.8 billion), city officials expect the dam to be complete as early as 2015.

High sea levels have threatened low lying coastal cities for generations but evidence of rising levels combined with record rainstorms and hurricanes in recent times are sending stronger signals that the effects of global warming are taking shape. What sort of measure should cities like Venice and New York City set to protect itself from future threats? Let us know of your suggestions at the comment section below.

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