Some of Venice’s smaller canals have virtually dried up due to prolonged low tides, the irritation of boat crews and the confusion of tourists.
Experts say the prolonged ebb is linked to a prolonged anticyclone over much of Italy.
Since the canals essentially serve as the roads of Venice without cars, the phenomenon of the last days added to the challenges of daily life in the lagoon city. Because ambulances cannot navigate rippling canals of water and mud, health care workers may have to manually carry stretchers over long distances.
For tourists, this meant that gondolas could not navigate some of the secondary channels that pass under Venice’s many picturesque bridges.
In the dead of winter, high pressure combined with lunar cycles can create ultra-low water levels at low tide, notes Jane Da Mosto, an environmental scientist and sustainable development analyst at environmental advocacy group We Are Here Venice.
She added that the phenomenon highlights a lack of attention to the delayed need to clean up Venice’s inner network of canals.
Navigation continued on the wider main waterways, including the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal.
Separately, the same anticyclonic system, exacerbated by less snowmelt in the Alps this year, has contributed to the shrinking of northern Italy’s lakes and rivers in recent weeks. The connecting isthmus reappeared, to the delight of visitors who were actually able to walk halfway through the middle of the lake.
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