Canal Water on the Rise

According to a new study by the United Nations, areas like the Venice Canals may experience the impacts of climate change sooner than expected. Photo: Sam Catanzaro.

UN report says damages from climate change may occur within the next two decades.

By Sam Catanzaro

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released a special report that warns we have just 12 years to implement changes to the global energy infrastructure to keep the impacts of global warming at moderate levels. Venice, which has many areas at or below sea level, are among the areas that stand to be the most affected.

“There is no documented historic precedent,” the IPCC said in their report   “Some of the most affected areas are small islands, megacities, coastal regions and high mountain ranges.”

The Venice Canals, which sit right at sea level, may be one of the first areas in Los Angeles to see the impacts of climate change. According to the Califonia Coastal Commission in a report released prior to the IPCC announcement, the area around the Venice Canals may see flooding within the next 25 to 50 years. The IPCC report suggests that this flooding could come sooner, rather than later, due to a combination of higher sea levels and more intense rainfall, if carbon emissions are not reduced within the next twelve years.

“Scientists have been warning us for years that we can expect to see more extreme weather with climate change. The heat waves, wildfires, and heavy rainfall events of recent months all over the world underscore these warnings,” said Hoesung Lee, chair of the IPCC.

The Venice Canals drain into the Marina del Rey through a series of tide-gates. At high tide, the sea level rises above these gates, so the canals can only be drained at low-tide but this may be impacted by climate change. 

“Because the groundwater is expected to rise along with sea levels, there may be less storage capacity in the canals,”  said Aaron Holloway, a Coastal and Water Resources Engineer at Moffatt & Nichols, “In a big rainfall event, the canals may not be big enough to hold it, and because the tides will be higher, will not have time to drain before we get the next big rainfall event.”

According to the IPCC report, if human-caused global warming can is reduced to .9 degrees Fahrenheit there will be substantially fewer downpours and substantially less sea-level rise.

To read the full report, visit