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Analysis of the sea surges at Venice from A.D. 782 to 1990

Summary

After an accurate search for old documents in Italian archives, the series of the sea surges has been reconstructed for a period of 12 centuries. In addition to written documents, other sources have also been investigated, e.g. the identification marks made by the Venetian Republic at the mean level of the high tides and accurate drawings made in the 18th century by the painterCanaletto with the help of a portable camera obscura. The sea surges at Venice are due to several forcing factors: a low pressure passing over the Mediterranean and generating a Sirocco wind; the barometric effect associated with a gradient of atmospheric pressure over the sea waters; free oscillations in the Adriatic sea; solar and lunar influences; subsidence of the soil. Except for a period which culminated in 1424–1442, when the moon was in perigee and the earth in perihelion, in general the meteorological factors largely dominate over the astronomical ones: the seasonal distribution shows a narrow peak in November–December and the series is important to show the frequency of the anomalies in the atmospheric circulations which determined meridional winds over the Adriatic sea. The analysis of the data shows clearly the 18.6 yr lunar nutation influence and a continuous rise of the sea level despite the cooling of the Little Ice Age. The most perturbed period were respectively: 1914–today, due to anthropogenic factors, i.e. excavating of new canals and underground water pumping; 1500–1550, during the Spörer Minimum of solar activity; 1720–1830; 1250–1350, which was also a stormy period in the North Sea. No apparent links with the Maunder Minimum of solar activity were found.

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Camuffo, D. Analysis of the sea surges at Venice from A.D. 782 to 1990. Theor Appl Climatol 47, 1–14 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00868891

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Keywords

  • Solar Activity
  • Meridional Wind
  • Free Oscillation
  • Maunder Minimum
  • Portable Camera