Sea-level rise in Venice: historic and future trends (review article)

Davide Zanchettin, Sara Bruni, Fabio Raicich, Piero Lionello, Fanny Adloff, Alexey Androsov, Fabrizio Antonioli, Vincenzo Artale, Eugenio Carminati, Christian Ferrarin, Vera Fofonova, Robert J. Nicholls, Sara Rubinetti, Angelo Rubino, Gianmaria Sannino, Giorgio Spada, Rémi Thiéblemont, Michael Tsimplis, Georg Umgiesser, Stefano VignudelliGuy Wöppelmann, Susanna Zerbini

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Abstract

The city of Venice and the surrounding lagoonal ecosystem are highly vulnerable to variations in relative sea level. In the past ∼150 years, this was characterized by an average rate of relative sea-level rise of about 2.5 mm/year resulting from the combined contributions of vertical land movement and sea-level rise. This literature review reassesses and synthesizes the progress achieved in quantification, understanding and prediction of the individual contributions to local relative sea level, with a focus on the most recent studies. Subsidence contributed to about half of the historical relative sea-level rise in Venice. The current best estimate of the average rate of sea-level rise during the observational period from 1872 to 2019 based on tide-gauge data after removal of subsidence effects is 1.23 ± 0.13 mm/year. A higher – but more uncertain – rate of sea-level rise is observed for more recent years. Between 1993 and 2019, an average change of about +2.76 ± 1.75 mm/year is estimated from tide-gauge data after removal of subsidence. Unfortunately, satellite altimetry does not provide reliable sea-level data within the Venice Lagoon. Local sea-level changes in Venice closely depend on sea-level variations in the Adriatic Sea, which in turn are linked to sea-level variations in the Mediterranean Sea. Water mass exchange through the Strait of Gibraltar and its drivers currently constitute a source of substantial uncertainty for estimating future deviations of the Mediterranean mean sea-level trend from the global-mean value. Regional atmospheric and oceanic processes will likely contribute significant interannual and interdecadal future variability in Venetian sea level with a magnitude comparable to that observed in the past. On the basis of regional projections of sea-level rise and an understanding of the local and regional processes affecting relative sea-level trends in Venice, the likely range of atmospherically corrected relative sea-level rise in Venice by 2100 ranges between 32 and 62 cm for the RCP2.6 scenario and between 58 and 110 cm for the RCP8.5 scenario, respectively. A plausible but unlikely high-end scenario linked to strong ice-sheet melting yields about 180 cm of relative sea-level rise in Venice by 2100. Projections of human-induced vertical land motions are currently not available, but historical evidence demonstrates that they have the potential to produce a significant contribution to the relative sea-level rise in Venice, exacerbating the hazard posed by climatically induced sea-level changes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2643-2678
Number of pages36
JournalNatural Hazards and Earth System Science
Volume21
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2021

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