Layers: Venice, Italy

LAYERSVeniceDetailTWOThe history of the city of Venice is one of escape.  Its original settlers found their way out into the uninhabited marsh and island swamps to escape the marauding barbarians laying waste to the mainland.  It was a successful escape.  The success with water borne trade and mastery of the Mediterranean Sea allowed for economic escape from the poverty and backwardness of the Dark Ages.  Even the home grown political system allowed a semi-democratic escape from the autocratic monarchies of the European continent.  Venice escaped major destruction in a half dozen wars and managed to escape some of the ravages of modernity.  What it will not escape will be the rising waters of the World Ocean due to global warming.   Global warming threatens coastal areas through three processes.  First the increasing temperatures of the air are transmitted to the ocean causing sea temperatures to rise first at the sea surface but eventually deeper down in the sea.  This increase in heat energy thermally expands the water causing it to rise.  Additional water is added by melting glacial ice.  Many of the temperate glaciers of the world have been receding at increasing rates.  The melt water runs to the sea.  Greenland and Antarctica currently hold most of the Earth’s solid water.  The Greenland ice sheet is thinning and the outlet glaciers rapidly receding.  An acceleration of this melting could give rise to even higher sea levels.  Additional danger comes from the Antarctic Ice Sheets.  The West Antarctic Ice sheet has show signs of melting and surging as shelf ice breaks up and allows inland ice to flow.   Sudden melting of this southern hemisphere ice would raise sea level beyond the protection of engineered escapes….

(From Venice, Italy)

Text prepared by Dr. James Brey

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Layers: Places in Peril

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