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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Research project: Venice lagoon

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The big science question: In the context of climatic and sea-level change, it is imperative to investigate the vulnerability of coastal environments. This includes a better understanding of factors controlling the water quality and habitats of coastal area, using some very well understood key example areas, such as the Venice lagoon that can then be used to direct management strategies and inform regulatory frameworks.

Research details

Research in Southampton has been undertaken, utilising a combination of field measurements (in Venice lagoon), laboratory experiments (set up in Southampton) and mathematical models (developed in Southampton) to apply models that predict the movement of tides and waves and subsequent erosion or deposition in key habitats (palude) in Venice lagoon, the exchange of both sediments and water at the MOSE sites, and sedimentation in the canals of Venice. The Venetians have been attempting to manage siltation (the sediment budget of the lagoon) for navigation purposes for 900 years; they went to war against Padua in 1105 AD for influencing the river supply of this budget. Our research has helped balance this sediment budget of the lagoon for the first time and discovered the key factors controlling this budget. In particular, our studies led to the discovery of a large offshore sediment supply derived from ebb tidal deltas off the Lido and Chioggia inlets.

Key facts

  • The work has been incorporated into policy for the Protection of Venice and by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) for application to global issues
  • Our analyses of seawater temperature trends in Venice lagoon have shown changes well above those predicted by the International Panel on Climate Change (2007)
  • The flume technology designed in Southampton was transferred to UK Industry (Partrac Ltd.) the Canadian government, the University of Odense, Denmark and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Bathymetry of the Venice Lagoon obtained by using the grid of a numerical model. Coastal Engineering, Vol. 55 (9) August 2008, pp. 716-731
Venice Lagoon
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