An exceptional low tide left Venice’s famous canals almost dry yesterday, with traditional gondolas and boats effectively beached as water levels reached a peak of -48 cm, creating an unusual landscape in the lagoon city.
Due to the combined effects of the full moon and high pressure, canals dried up, hindering transport and security in a large part of the historic city.
An even worse ‘drought event’ occurred in 2018, when the water levels reached -83cm below the threshold. Venice also experienced a similar low tide phenomenon in 2020, during which water levels reached -45cm.
Venice, beloved around the world for its canals, historic architecture and art, has always lived in a fragile balance between low and high tides, that usually create variations of around 50cm in sea levels.
Flooding is a constant concern in the city built on a collection of small islands within a saltwater lagoon off the north-eastern coast of Italy, with every new incursion damaging its medieval and Renaissance palaces.
Venice’s floods are caused by a combination of factors, exacerbated by climate change — from rising sea levels and unusually high tides to land subsidence that has caused the ground level of the city to sink.
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