Monday, August 18, 2008


Eileen Brangan Mell, the WPI director of Public Relations just informed me that a recent article on Real Simple Travel magazine generated interesting ripple effects: from a very local entry on someone’s travel blog to an entry on Yahoo! Travel which is read by millions.
It only contains a single nugget of fact, but it's digestible and to the point.

Is Venice sinking?

The fact is that "everything" is sinking a little bit every year (a phenomenon known as "natural" subsidence), but Venice was sinking more than the natural amount for decades from the fifties to the seventies, due to the fact that heavy factories in Marghera were drawing millions of gallons of water for industrial purposes, creating "artificial subsidence" that amounted to about 12 centimeters of net elevation loss from 1897 to 1975. After the pumping of industrial water was stopped in the late seeventies, artificial subsidence also stopped and the ground actually regained 2 centimeters of elevation for a total net loss of about 10 cm due to "sinking". Since then Venice has not been sinking any more than any other city. Natural subsidence only amounts to a few centimeters of elevation loss per century. Negligible compared to the sea level rise that global warming is forecasted to bring us in the decades ahead.
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