A new study conducted by the Institute of Marine Sciences of the CNR (National Research Council) has certified that the waters of the Venice lagoon have regained that clarity and health that has not been recognized for a long time. Residents intent these days to restore a semblance of post-lockdown normality to the streets have found themselves admiring seabed to many of them unknown.
The causes of this unexpected sanitization are many, mostly attributable to the absence of commercial and tourist traffic in the Coronavirus emergency.
The study, the result of careful satellite comparisons, was published in the scientific journal Science of the Total Environment. CNR researchers used satellite surveys to categorize and quantify the environmental effects of lockwdown measures, in particular on the transparency of lagoon waters. The aim was to ascertain how changes in human pressure cause temporary effects on sea and seabed quality. The images were collected by the Sentinel-2 satellite and processed by ESA (European Space Agency). The comparative sample periods range from 20 February to 9 March and from 10 March to 25 April.
Since March 10, when the Italian government announced the lockdown state, the lagoon has undergone a real metamorphosis – together with the economic regression shared with every other part of Italy. The Venetian population has literally halved. With government restrictions and restrictions, there was a drastic drop in occasional regional visitors and the elimination of tourist flows. Added to this is the interruption of urban water traffic. The lagoon has effectively been completely isolated. Public transport services, water taxis, airport shuttles, as well as pleasure and tourist boats, have stopped. The commercial boats that supplied the city daily have significantly reduced travel. Result: less draining of boats, weakening of the wave motion, reduction of urban drains due to the disappearance of tourist residences.
On February 20, before the covid emergency, the density of the white trails indicating the boats in motion was decidedly consistent along the Grand Canal and Giudecca. On March 19 in full lockdown, the situation had completely changed. Unedited for satellite observation. The water of the lagoon – the researchers say – was clearer with less matter suspended in the canals that surrounded the city, in particular from Venice to Murano, towards the airport and the canal east of Murano.
In the suffering of the most beautiful city in the world, an opportunity. For researchers above all, that data in hand will be able to truly evaluate the measure of the human footprint on that very delicate ecosystem that is the Venice lagoon: a precious cushion of sands and phytoplankton which, if not respected, risks dragging itself deeply into that same jewel that with kindness embraces.