Venice’s canals dried up: the result of astronomical and atmospheric factors, not drought

Wyschnięte kanały Wenecji

News of a rare phenomenon – the drying up of the Venetian canals – has recently circulated in the media. Many people have begun to speculate on the reasons for this condition. Is this a result of the prevailing drought in Italy? Half as much snow as usual has fallen in the Alps this winter, and 61% less water is flowing down the Po River. It turns out that the reason is quite different.

Venice’s dried up canals – causes

The persistent drought in northern Italy may have contributed to a drop in the lagoon’s water level, but experts say this has had a negligible impact on the drying up of the canals.

“Drought has nothing to do with it (…) rainfall does not affect tidal levels,” Georg Umgiesser, a marine researcher at Italy’s National Research Council. Research Council (CNR) in an interview with MeteoWeb.

Four main factors are responsible for tides around the world, and thus in Venice (and thus for the height of the water table in the canals):

  • astronomical events;
  • atmospheric pressure;
  • ocean currents;
  • Winds – their strength and direction.

A period of high atmospheric pressure over the Adriatic Sea during the last days of February affected the water level in the Venetian Lagoon. At the same time, on February 18 this year. two phenomena took place: the new moon and the Moon’s approach to Earth, which shaped the tide around the world. Combined with high pressure, they caused a prolonged outflow of water from the lagoon, thus lowering the water table in the Venetian canals.

The outflow of a certain amount of water from the canals is a perfectly normal phenomenon that usually occurs in January and February, when the high pressure characteristic of these months leads to a drop in sea level. This year, the baric systems have amplified the astronomical impact, generating interest from a wider audience. Today, Venice’s canals are again filled with water.

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