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Venice Canals Dry Up as Italy Braces for Severe Drought

Venice Canals Dry Up as Italy Braces for Severe Drought
Venice Canals Dry Up as Italy Braces for Severe Drought. Credit: Didier Descouens / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

With almost little snowfall this winter, Italy is preparing for yet another year of extreme drought, which will lead to lower food yields and water shortages.

The snowfall totals in the Alps are just half of what they normally are, and the water levels in Lake Garda, which is located in northern Italy, are at an all-time low. Due to the abnormally low tides in Venice, water taxis, gondolas, and even ambulances are unable to go through some of the city’s canals.

The absence of rain over a lengthy period of time is said to be the root cause of all of these problems, but a full moon, a high-pressure system, and ocean currents may all make the situation worse.

UN Research on Drought

Research by the United Nations estimates that droughts have a direct impact on the lives of over 55 million people throughout the globe each year. This makes droughts the most significant threat to livestock and crops in practically every region of the world.

The report continues by stating that within the next few decades, 129 countries will see a rise in drought exposure primarily due to climate change alone.

Furthermore, by the year 2050, between 4.8 and 5.7 billion people will inhabit regions that are water-scarce for at least one month each year, which is an increase from the current 3.6 billion people who live in such areas.

Current Situation in Italy

Recent studies have shown that Italy is still in the throes of a drought crisis, with the Po River, the country’s largest river, having just a third of its usual water levels.

The current situation comes as a direct result of a particularly severe drought last year, which prompted Italy to proclaim a state of emergency for vital agricultural regions bordering the Po river.

Olive trees have suffered damage as a result of the dry winter, and water supplies have been drained throughout Italy. Because of this, the amount of moisture in the soil is still relatively low, despite the fact that some hydroelectric reservoirs lost half of their total water supply to evaporation.

This is of particular concern for northern parts of Italy, which have received little precipitation ever since the drought that started the previous year.

“2023 has just begun, but it is showing worrying signs in terms of extreme weather events, drought levels,” Giorgio Zampetti, Legambiente’s executive director said. “We must immediately reduce withdrawals in the various sectors and for the various uses before reaching the point of no return.”

According to the environmental organization Legambiente, the lack of precipitation has caused “patches” in the north to struggle to recover from the effects of the dry season that occurred the previous year.

The situation has been made even worse by the abnormally high temperatures that have been seen over the last several summers. As a result, more water is being lost via evaporation than can be replaced by rainfall at this point in time.

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