12 Nov 2020

12 Nov 2020

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Review article: Sea-level rise in Venice: historic and future trends

Davide Zanchettin1, Sara Bruni2,a, Fabio Raicich3, Piero Lionello4, Fanny Adloff5, Alexey Androsov6,7, Fabrizio Antonioli8, Vincenzo Artale9, Eugenio Carminati10, Christian Ferrarin11, Vera Fofonova6, Robert J. Nicholls12, Sara Rubinetti1, Angelo Rubino1, Gianmaria Sannino8, Giorgio Spada2, Rémi Thiéblemont13, Michael Tsimplis14, Georg Umgiesser11, Stefano Vignudelli15, Guy Wöppelmann16, and Susanna Zerbini2 Davide Zanchettin et al.
  • 1University Ca’ Foscari of Venice, Dept. of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics, Via Torino 155, 30172 Mestre, Italy
  • 2University of Bologna, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Viale Berti Pichat 8, 40127, Bologna, Italy
  • 3CNR, Institute of Marine Sciences, AREA Science Park Q2 bldg., SS14 km 163.5, Basovizza, 34149 Trieste, Italy
  • 4Unversità del Salento, Dept. of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technologies, Centro Ecotekne Pal. M - S.P. 6, Lecce Monteroni, Italy
  • 5National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Reading, Reading, UK
  • 6Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Postfach 12-01-61, 27515, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 7Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Moscow, 117997, Russia
  • 8ENEA Casaccia, Climate and Impact Modeling Lab, SSPT-MET-CLIM, Via Anguillarese 301, 00123 Roma, Italy
  • 9ENEA C.R. Frascati, SSPT-MET, Via Enrico Fermi 45, 00044 Frascati, Italy
  • 10University of Rome La Sapienza, Dept. of Earth Sciences, Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Roma, Italy
  • 11CNR - National Research Council of Italy, ISMAR - Marine Sciences Institute, Castello 2737/F, 30122 Venezia, Italy
  • 12Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia. Norwich NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom
  • 13Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières “BRGM”, French Geological Survey, 3 Avenue, Claude Guillemin, CEDEX, 45060 Orléans, France
  • 14City University of Hong Kong, School of Law, Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon, Hong Kong
  • 15CNR, Institute of Biophysics, AREA Ricerca, Via Moruzzi 1, 56127 Pisa, Italy
  • 16LIENSs, CNRS - La Rochelle University, 2 rue Olympe de Gouges, 17000 La Rochelle, France
  • anow at: PosiTim UG, Seeheim-Jugenheim, Germany

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 a secular linear trend 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 understanding, estimating and predicting the individual contributions to local relative sea level, with focus on the most recent publications. The current best estimate of historical sea-level rise in Venice, based on tide-gauge data after removal of subsidence effects, is 1.23 ± 0.13 mm/year (period from 1872 to 2019). Subsidence thus contributed to about half of the observed relative sea-level rise over the same period. A higher – yet more uncertain – rate of sea-level rise is observed during recent decades, estimated from tide-gauge data to be about 2.76 ± 1.75 mm/year in the period 1993–2019 for the climatic component alone. An unresolved issue is the contrast between the observational capacity of tide gauges and satellite altimetry, with the latter tool not covering the Venice Lagoon. Water mass exchanges through the Gibraltar Strait currently constitute a source of substantial uncertainty for estimating future deviations of the Mediterranean mean sea-level trend from the global-mean value. Subsidence and regional atmospheric and oceanic circulation mechanisms can deviate Venetian relative sea-level trends from the global mean values for several decades. Regional processes will likely continue to determine significant interannual and interdecadal variability of Venetian sea level with magnitude comparable to that observed in the past, as well as non-negligible differential trends. Our estimate of the likely range of mean sea-level rise in Venice by 2100 due to climate change is presently estimated between 11 and 110 centimetres. An improbable yet possible high-end scenario linked to strong ice-sheet melting yields about 170 centimetres of mean sea-level rise in Venice by 2100. Projections of natural and human induced vertical land motions are currently not available, but historical evidence demonstrates that they can produce a significant contribution to the relative sea-level rise in Venice, further increasing the hazard posed by climatically-induced sea-level changes.

Davide Zanchettin et al.

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Davide Zanchettin et al.

Davide Zanchettin et al.


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Short summary
Relative sea level in Venice rose by about 2.5 mm/year in the past 150 years due to the combined effect of subsidence and mean sea-level rise. We estimate the likely range of mean sea-level rise in Venice by 2100 due to climate changes in between 11 and 110 cm, with an improbable yet possible high-end scenario of about 170 cm. Projections of subsidence are not available, but historical evidence demonstrates that they can increase the hazard posed by climatically-induced sea-level rise.