Lake Como is legendary for its natural beauty and is very popular with international visitors, especially Americans, however the melting of glaciers surrounding the lake it is threatening its future and damaging the local economy.
Even if you have yet to contemplate the natural beauty of Lake Como, there is no doubt that you know what it is, both because you read it / studied it at school (I Promessi Sposi di Manzoni), and because you have probably seen it. as a secondary character on the big screen.
Since 1925 (“The Pleasure Garden”) to the most contemporary blockbusters (“Casino Royale”, “Ocean’s Twelve”, “Star Wars: Episode II”), filmmakers, just like the centuries of tourists before them, have been attracted to the wonderful landscape wonders of Como and its lake.
The beauty of Lake Como is famous all over the world. Celebrated in art by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci and Virgil, and loved today by Hollywood icons such as George Clooney, which has an 18th century villa on the picturesque shores of the lake, however while the bucolic destination has endured over the centuries, it cannot escape the effects of climate change.
Like other lakes in the world, Lake Como is facing an uncertain future due to climate change with particular concern this year stemming from the regression of the lake’s shores, which have dropped more than three feet (or 4.6 billion gallons) from normal water levels.
As CBS News correspondent Chris Livesay found out in the interviews with local geologists, the Fellaria glacier, which feeds Lake Como, is shrinking rapidly and is the biggest contributing factor to its record-negative water levels.
“With global warming, there are hardly any glaciers left. The glacier when I was a child was very big, now where is it? “
said the geologist Michele Comi to Livesay, noting that the Fellaria has lost nearly two-thirds of its total mass since 1880.
“In this period we do not have the water of the rain or the melting of the ice or the melting of the snow”
added the geologist Filippo Camerlenghi indicating a void along the coast, showing how far the water has dropped, a space of more than a meter between the old high waterline and where it is now, and extending it over its 146 square kilometers, you get the 4.6 billion of missing gallons of water.
This situation, among other things, cause a dangerous one erosion, which of course creates landslides as, when the water recedes, the base of the mountain along its bank essentially begins to collapse as it no longer has the water which helps the rocks stay there.
So, what will the future of Lake Como be?
Although Lake Como –the fifth deepest lake in Europe with more than 400 meters deep – there is no risk of drying up in the future, there are consequences in losing its most consistent water source.
According to a recent document on the impact of climate change on the future hydrology of Como, increases in temperature average between 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit (0.61 degrees Celsius) and 10.73 degrees Fahrenheit (5.96 degrees Celsius) could result in a decrease in the total volume of ice in the pelvis from −50% to −77%.
This loss would be particularly felt for Lake Como during the months when the dependence on the lake’s resources is greatest.
“Our results, despite the well-known uncertainty when it comes to future climatic and hydrological scenarios, consistently indicate the expectation of an increase in flows during the wet seasons (floods), winter and especially autumn, and the subsequent decrease during the dry seasons (drought), spring and especially summer, due to the shift in the snow cycle and the decrease in ice cover “
conclude the researchers.
The loss of the Fellaria glacier will put everything under stress, from the hydroelectric basins located upstream of the lake to the farms located downstream, changing and putting at risk not only Lake Como, but also the Como area, as well as the biodiversity of the life it hosts.
“The fish level is about 50% lower than it was 10 years ago, we have already lost the Bleak, a small fish, it was very famous in Como, which has now completely disappeared ”.
he told CBS News William Cavadini, head of the local fishermen’s association.
Other species, such as the Agone (favorably described as “freshwater sardine”), have decreased significantly due to the retreat of the water which exposes the broods of eggs, and such losses prompted officials to set up two fish farms for endangered species in hopes of stemming losses in the future.
Not even the roads and terraced walls, some of which for centuries have delimited the shore of the lake, are not safe, they are in fact at risk of landslide and collapse due to the lower water level.
“These walls were built with the expectation of a constant pressure of the waters of Lake Como, corresponding to the contrasting pressure outwards from the terraced land.
Such a balance does not exist when the water level is low and therefore the entire aesthetic fabric of the lakefront is threatened due to the changing need to deploy structures more designed for tidal fronts.“
explains the Como Companion website.
“The problem starts in the mountains, then in the lake, then in the plains. In climate change, nothing is local, everything is global“
Comi added to CBS News, further adding that this situation will require careful management to help preserve one of Europe’s most precious natural attractions.
Lake Como is just one of the many lakes in the region that face the same challenges of our climate change in real time, right in front of our eyes.
If you are attracted to science, keep following us, so you don’t miss the latest news and news from all over the world!