The Race to Save St. Mark’s Basilica From Salty Floodwaters

Rising sea level means that the tides are starting from a higher baseline, explains Jane da Mosto, an environmental scientist and founder of the nonprofit We Are Here Venice. According to a peer-reviewed study conducted by researchers at Germany’s Kiel University, Venice faces a sea level rise of 55 inches and storm surges of 98 inches by 2100. Speaking at a conference in April, Mario Piana, chief architect of St. Mark’s Basilica, called these “truly unsustainable levels.”

Frequent contact with saltwater hurts the church’s marble columns, floors, and mosaics—and not only when it first seeps in. “It is a type of damage that is not immediately visible and that can occur even after a long time,” says Anna Maria Pentimalli,…

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