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The science of saving Venice

Plenary / Panel
english language


Principal Environmental Scientist, HR Wallingford Ltd, Oxfordshire Research Fellow, Churchill College, Cambridge To 2005- Senior Research Associate, Cambridge Coastal Research Unit, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge Abstract
The Science of Saving Venice

Time may be running out for Venice. The frequency of flooding is increasing and Venice is little better protected today than it was in November 1966, when a violent storm left the city under nearly 2 metres of floodwater. The environmental future is bleak, with continuing land subsidence, acceleration in the rate of sea level rise and possible changes in storminess in prospect. Surrounding the city is a lagoon ecosystem showing signs of severe environmental degradation.

Since the 1966 flood, Venice has received unprecedented attention from the Scientific Community both in Italy and internationally, with a view to tackling these problems. The complexity of the system and the interdisciplinary nature of the problems cannot be overstated. The scientific debate, heated at times has however highlighted the fact that scientists, although only part of the answer, are a vital voice now and for the future of Venice.

This talk outlines the evolution of Venice and its lagoon and focuses on the science of saving Venice. It offers a distillation of the current state of scientific knowledge about the nature and causes of the threat to Venice and about proposed solutions. From the large scale engineering solution - the MOSE mobile barrier planned at the inlets to hold back storm surges from the open sea, to the local works of raising walkways so evident as you meander around Venice, to the often less witnessed restoration of the lagoon and its salt marshes - the lungs of the system..

The Venice in Peril Project has been undertaken by Churchill College and the University of Cambridge in collaboration with Corila (Consortium for Coordination of Research Activities concerning the Venice Lagoon System) in Venice and culminated in the following two books:

Fletcher, C.A. and da Mosto, J with Jensen Smith, D. (2004) The Science of Saving Venice. Published by Allemandi Press for the Venice in Peril Fund (The British Committee for the Preservation of Venice). ISBN: 8842213101

Fletcher, C.A. and Spencer, T (2005) Flooding and Environmental Challenges for Venice and its Lagoon: State of Knowledge. Published by Cambridge University Press 2005. ISBN-10: 0521840465 | ISBN-13: 9780521840460)
President Emeritus, Jacobs University Bremen Chair


Principal Environmental Scientist, HR Wallingford Ltd, Oxfordshire Research Fellow, Churchill College, Cambridge To 2005- Senior Research Associate, Cambridge Coastal Research Unit, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge

 Caroline Fletcher specialises in sustainable development and the impacts of natural processes and human activities on estuarine and coastal systems. She has worked in the UK, Europe, USA, the middle East and the Far East on projects concerned with aquatic pollution, habitat creation and the beneficial use of dredged material, sediments and port developments. More recently, funded by Venice in Peril (the British Committee for the preservation of Venice), she has been researching the storm surge flooding and environmental problems of Venice and its Lagoon. Specifically this research includes facilitating a forum for debate into the scientific and technical issues of the flooding and environmental problems of Venice and proposed engineering solutions and technologies.

Dr. Joachim TREUSCH

President Emeritus, Jacobs University Bremen

1970 Professur in Frankfurt
1971 Lehrstuhl für Theoretische Physik in Dortmund
1984-1986 Präsident der Deutschen Physikalischen Gesellschaft
seit 1987 Vorstandsmitglied der Kernforschungsanlage Jülich (KFA)
1993-1997 Vorsitzender der Hermann-von-Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren
1995-1996 Präsident der Gesellschaft Deutscher Naturforscher und Ärzte
1990-2006 Vorsitzender des Vorstands der Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH
1999-2003 Vorsitzender des Deutschen Verbandes Technisch-Wissenschaftlicher Vereine
2000-2006 Vorsitzender des Lenkungsausschusses "Wissenschaft im Dialog"
2006-2012 Präsident der Jacobs University Bremen

Technology Forum

show timetable


10:00 - 12:00Technology brunch sponsored by Tiroler ZukunftsstiftungSocial
13:00 - 14:00OpeningPlenary
14:00 - 15:30Our futurePlenary
16:00 - 18:00Location of science and research - a global shift?Plenary
20:00 - 21:00SecurityPlenary
21:30 - 23:45Evening reception sponsored by Alcatel AustriaSocial


Junior AlpbachBreakout


09:00 - 15:00Working Group 01: Technology and location strategies for enterprisesBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 02: Electronic carBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 03: Science of everyday productsBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 04: Security of energy supplyBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 05: NanotechnologyBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 06: From scientific journal to breaking news: science and the mediaBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 07: Fuel cells and hydrogen - the future of transport?Breakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 08: European strategies for international research cooperationBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 09: Excellence - a question of genderBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 10: Converging technologiesBreakout
16:00 - 16:45University/industry interaction - The Atlantic picturePlenary
16:45 - 17:30University/industry interaction - The Austrian solutionPlenary
17:30 - 18:00University/industry interaction - Political ConclusionsPlenary
18:00 - 20:00Reception sponsored by Province of Lower AustriaSocial
20:00 - 21:00The science of saving VenicePlenary


09:00 - 10:30Politics and SciencePlenary
10:30 - 11:30Science at the cutting edgePlenary
12:00 - 12:15Alpbach 2005 - Resumée Junior AlpbachPlenary
12:15 - 13:00Reflections and PerspectivesPlenary
13:00 - 14:30Farewell reception sponsored by Microsoft AustriaSocial