The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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What if Venice is no longer there...

Venice will “almost certainly” be uninhabitable by 2100 because of rising water levels and flooding, one of the largest meetings of international scientists in Cambridge was warned on Sunday.

A four-day conference organised by the Venice in Peril Fund to find a way to rescue the city was told that its population has fallen from 150,000 in the 1950s to 58,000 today.

After a morning spent on the river Cam in gondolas and punts, more than 100 scien- tists began the meeting whi- ch will include two British experts who will talk about their knowledge of the Thames Barrier.

The conference comes at a time when St Mark’s Square in Venice is being flooded about 100 times each year, compared with 10 times in 1900.

The city is 23 centimetres further under water than it was 100 years ago.

Rising water levels in the lagoon account for 10cm of the total and 13cm come from subsidence.

Nicky Baly, the development director of Venice in Peril, founded after the 1966 Venice flood by a former British ambassador to Italy, said: “We can keep on paying to restore Venetian buildings, but what if the city is no longer there for our grandchildren' If Venice is to continue to survive, solutions are required, fast.”

The charity, which has donated millions to the upkeep of buildings, warned that Venice remains as “undefended” as it was in 1966 when the entire city was flooded.

A photograph of the steps by the Rialto Bridge, taken by the charity, shows just two clean steps while a 1900 photograph of the same scene showed six. The other four steps are now under water at high tide so have become covered in slime.

Scientists with a range of expertise, including climate change and engineering, will discuss the issues facing Venice. Topics due to be discussed include “Open problems in modelling morphodynamics in Venice Lagoon” and “Striv-ing towards a comprehensive knowledge of the lagoon ecosystem”.

Two research papers — one scientific and one for the lay reader — will be produced af- ter the conference and sent to politicians across Europe in an attempt to encourage action.

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