Beloved landmarks under threat from climate change



Slide 1 of 37: Several of the world's most iconic places and historic landmarks are under threat from erosion, flooding, wildfires and other freak weather. We take a look at some of the natural wonders and marvelous man-made constructions whose existence is threatened by the climate.
Slide 2 of 37: Global warming has caused the temperature of the ocean around Australia's Great Barrier Reef to rise to record levels and this is thought to be responsible for around two-thirds of the coral reef being irreversibly bleached. Bleaching doesn't always kill coral but it can often be deadly.
Slide 3 of 37: The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. WWF Australia says that its network of marine sanctuaries is of unparalleled ecological importance. It is the world's largest reef system and its biggest living structure. Work is ongoing to halt the damage to the reef and to reduce the impact of climate change.
Slide 4 of 37: Millions of dollars are being spent on measures aimed at restoring the health of the Great Barrier Reef. These include improving the water quality around the reef and reducing the amount of sediment entering it. Global warming poses the biggest threat, however, and if steps aren't taken to stem this, the damage could continue.

Slide 5 of 37: The iconic Joshua trees are what gives the Joshua Tree National Park in California its name, but these trees are dying and global warming is being blamed. Few trees have ever been able to grow in the desert conditions of the national park but the cactus-like Joshua trees have always been able to withstand the heat to not only survive but thrive.
Slide 6 of 37: Many Joshua trees in the national park have already perished, unable to withstand the hotter, drier climate. The saplings with shallow root systems stand little chance of survival now and even some of the mature trees with their deeper root systems have been killed off.
Slide 7 of 37: There are already no Joshua trees at all in some areas of the park. Some scientists claim that if global warming continues, Joshua trees could vanish from up to 90% of the park by the end of this century.
Slide 8 of 37: A reduction in water flow and nutrient pollution has put the Everglades National Park in the state of Florida in danger, threatening the abundant wildlife that lives in its unique ecosystem. UNESCO reports that the park contains the largest mangrove ecosystem in the Western Hemisphere, the largest continuous stand of sawgrass prairie and the most significant breeding ground for wading birds in North America.
Slide 9 of 37: After discovering that the Everglades' unique aquatic ecosystem has continued to deteriorate, UNESCO placed the national park on its list of World Heritage in Danger in 2010. It found that it had suffered a significant reduction of marine and estuarine biodiversity.

Slide 10 of 37: Work is ongoing to restore the flow and quality of water to the Everglades and to protect the wildlife and animals that live there, including the crocodiles and alligators that it is famous for. It's not known whether the damage that has already been done can be repaired.
Slide 11 of 37: The idyllic Indian Ocean tropical islands that make up the archipelago of the Maldives could be completely submerged within a few generations. It's the world's lowest lying country and built on a network of coral. A combination of rising sea levels, rising seawater temperatures and seawater acidity, which kills coral, puts the islands in grave danger.
Slide 12 of 37: Back in 2008, then-president Mohamed Nasheed announced that he was going to buy land for the islanders elsewhere, as at some point the 451,000-strong population could become refugees as a result of climate change. The plans have now been shelved and current president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is looking at measures that could save the islands from the sea.
Slide 13 of 37: The government is now focusing on building artificial man-made isles within the Maldives and moving residents of places under threat of submersion onto larger islands. There is also a big drive to increase tourism and while the Maldives economy will benefit from this in the short term, this could be at further cost to its environment.
Slide 14 of 37: The 17,400-foot-tall (5,300m) Chacaltaya glacier in the Andes was once the world's highest ski slope. Now all that is left of the structure, thought to be about 18,000 years-old, are a few patches of ice near its summit. Global warming is thought to be to blame.

Slide 15 of 37: The loss of the glacier has been a blow to the tourist industry in Chacaltaya, as well as threatening the local freshwater supply and the future use of hydropower which provides much of Bolivia's electricity.
Slide 16 of 37: This entire area was once covered in snow but now Chacaltaya resembles a ghost town. Many of the local reservoirs are often dry and water rationing is common. Discover more abandoned towns around the world here.
Slide 17 of 37: The tropical Solomon Islands are situated in the southwest of the Pacific Ocean. At least five of the islands in the archipelago have now been submerged under the sea and the coastlines of many others have shrunk as a result of rising sea levels caused by climate change.
Slide 18 of 37: At least six of the Solomon Islands have seen their land mass shrink and their shorelines recede as a result of rising sea levels and powerful high waves. Whole villages have been lost in this way and their communities have been forced to relocate.
Slide 19 of 37: As the islands continue to become smaller, more of the islanders will be forced to relocate to higher points in the territories. There is even the possibility that the 600 inhabitants of the provincial capital of Taro may be forced to move out to escape rising waters.
Slide 20 of 37: Bordered by Jordan and Israel, the landlocked Dead Sea is the lowest body of water on Earth. The high concentration of salt in the water means that bathers can naturally float in it. However, the sea's waters are now receding and this is causing sinkholes to appear.
Slide 21 of 37: The water level of the Dead Sea is said to be dropping by approximately three feet (1m) a year. About 50 years ago the Dead Sea covered around 386 square miles (1,000sq km), a level that had been largely constant since records began in the early 18th century. It has now shrunk to around 259 square miles (670sq km). The water is disappearing into the thousands of sinkholes that have emerged in recent years.
Slide 22 of 37: A lot less water is now flowing into the Dead Sea from the River Jordan because humans have diverted it for irrigation. This is thought to have caused the sinkholes to form. There are now moves to direct more water into the Dead Sea from the River Jordan. Time will tell if the Dead Sea can be restored to its former levels.
Slide 23 of 37: Lying in the Hohe Tauern mountain range in the Austrian Alps, the 5.2-mile-long (8.4km) Pasterze Glacier, shown here, is losing around 16 feet (5m) of ice thickness a year. The temperature increases that are causing Austria's largest glacier to melt are thought to be largely down to global warming.
Slide 24 of 37: The temperature of the Alps has reportedly risen by just under 35°F (2°C) over the past 120 years and it is predicted that the area could experience a rise in average annual temperatures of a further 35°F over the next few decades. A lot of glaciers have already shrunk dramatically and, by the end of the century, many could disappear altogether.
Slide 25 of 37: Alpine ski resorts may lose up to 70% of their snow cover by the end of the century. Global warming will mean that snowfall will be replaced by rain. This will be a blow to local economies as many of the towns and villages in the Alps depend on ski tourism.
Slide 26 of 37: The Great Salt Lake in Utah has reportedly seen its volume drop by nearly half since the late 19th century. This is largely as a result of periods of drought and people diverting the water from the streams that flow into it.
Slide 27 of 37: Decreasing water levels in the Great Salt Lake is having a knock-on effect on the local wildlife. There is now significantly less food available for the birds, insects and animals who feed from the lake.
Slide 28 of 37: Steps could be taken to encourage local residents to reduce their water consumption but as the area's population is growing, these moves are not expected to have a major impact. Add the common periods of drought to the mix and restoring the Great Lake's water levels becomes even more problematic.
Slide 29 of 37: As a result of climate change, the Sahara Desert has grown significantly over the last 100 years. Changes in rainfall levels has allowed the world's largest hot desert to grow by around 10%. Discover amazing ruins where Mother Nature ran riot.
Slide 30 of 37: If the current weather conditions continue, the Sahara, which covers large areas of Algeria, Egypt, Chad, Mali, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Tunisia and Sudan, could expand even further. These incredible tourist attractions don't look like they used to.
Slide 31 of 37: Most of the living things here accumulate on the edges of the Sahara Desert, close to the few water sources and vegetation that exist, but as the desert grows, the vegetation and wildlife will likely fall back or move on. If crops fail there will also be a greater risk of famine for the people living there.
Slide 32 of 37: Venice, the ancient Italian city where waterways exist in place of roads, has always been susceptible to flooding. A few times a year, acqua alta, or high water, occurs when high tides coincide with strong winds, often causing flooding. With global warming making sea levels rise, the regular flooding is only likely to worsen. To add to its woes the city is also literally sinking into its foundations by up to 1mm a year.
Slide 33 of 37: Most recently, in November 2019, Venice experienced its worst flooding for over half a century, as water levels reached 6.1 feet (1.8m) at its peak, causing 80% of the city to flood. St Mark's Square (pictured) was off-limits, as residents and tourists waded through the streets, schools closed for a number of days and the government declared a state of emergency. High tides, worsened by sirocco winds blowing from Africa, caused damage to homes, monuments and killed two people.
Slide 34 of 37: One of the world's most famous cathedrals, St Mark’s Basilica was under nearly five feet (1.5m) of water and suffered damage totaling $5.5 million. It’s believed this is only the sixth time such a high level of water has been seen in the building's 1,000-year history. 
Slide 35 of 37: Sadly, it's not the only example of flooding in the past decade. In May 2019, unusually high tides forced street closures, while in October 2018, the city saw a particularly horrific storm which plunged three-quarters of Venice underwater, with levels reaching five feet (1.56m). Areas in north and west Italy also experienced flooding and heavy winds, and 11 people were killed. October 2012 saw more than 70% of the city underwater and the levels rose up to nearly five feet (1.5m) above sea level. However at the time of writing, the record high water mark in the city occurred during the floods of 1966, when it rose to 6.3 feet (1.94m) above sea level.
Slide 36 of 37: The threat to Venice from climate change, pollution and human interference was further highlighted during the coronavirus pandemic. This image captured in Venice on 18 March 2020, during Italy’s lockdown, revealed an astonishing transformation in the canals after just a few weeks of reduced tourist numbers and traffic. As cruise ships and motorized boats disappeared, sediments had time to settle in the calm water revealing the sandy waterbed and Venice’s usually obscured plant life, shoals of tiny fish and even crabs.
Slide 37 of 37: There is further hope on the horizon, too. On 10 July 2020, the MOSE (Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico) flood barrier (shown here under construction) was tested for the first time, after years of delays and setbacks. A feat of civil engineering, the one-mile (1.5km) powerful series of floodgates covers the inlets to the lagoon, protecting Venice from any imminent flooding. Experts involved in the project say it'll take a further 18 months of testing before it can be used full time, but it's a start. Now take a look at the world's most unexpected weather events

The iconic places that could vanish

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is in danger

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is in danger

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is in danger

Joshua trees at Joshua Tree National Park are dying

Joshua trees at Joshua Tree National Park are dying

Joshua trees at Joshua Tree National Park are dying

Florida’s Everglades are at risk

Florida’s Everglades are at risk

Florida’s Everglades are at risk

The Maldives could be swallowed up by the sea

The Maldives could be swallowed up by the sea

The Maldives could be swallowed up by the sea

Chacaltaya glacier in Bolivia has all but disappeared

The 17,400-foot-tall (5,300m) Chacaltaya glacier in the Andes was once the world’s highest ski slope. Now all that is left of the structure, thought to be about 18,000 years-old, are a few patches of ice near its summit. Global warming is thought to be to blame.

Chacaltaya glacier in Bolivia has all but disappeared

Chacaltaya glacier in Bolivia has all but disappeared

This entire area was once covered in snow but now Chacaltaya resembles a ghost town. Many of the local reservoirs are often dry and water rationing is common. Discover more abandoned towns around the world here.

The Solomon Islands are disappearing

The Solomon Islands are disappearing

The Solomon Islands are disappearing

Sinkholes appear in the Dead Sea

Sinkholes appear in the Dead Sea

The water level of the Dead Sea is said to be dropping by approximately three feet (1m) a year. About 50 years ago the Dead Sea covered around 386 square miles (1,000sq km), a level that had been largely constant since records began in the early 18th century. It has now shrunk to around 259 square miles (670sq km). The water is disappearing into the thousands of sinkholes that have emerged in recent years.

Sinkholes appear in the Dead Sea

The Alps’ glaciers are retreating

Lying in the Hohe Tauern mountain range in the Austrian Alps, the 5.2-mile-long (8.4km) Pasterze Glacier, shown here, is losing around 16 feet (5m) of ice thickness a year. The temperature increases that are causing Austria’s largest glacier to melt are thought to be largely down to global warming.

The Alps’ glaciers are retreating

The temperature of the Alps has reportedly risen by just under 35°F (2°C) over the past 120 years and it is predicted that the area could experience a rise in average annual temperatures of a further 35°F over the next few decades. A lot of glaciers have already shrunk dramatically and, by the end of the century, many could disappear altogether.

The Alps’ glaciers are retreating

The Great Salt Lake is no longer so great

The Great Salt Lake is no longer so great

The Great Salt Lake is no longer so great

The Sahara Desert is expanding

As a result of climate change, the Sahara Desert has grown significantly over the last 100 years. Changes in rainfall levels has allowed the world’s largest hot desert to grow by around 10%. Discover amazing ruins where Mother Nature ran riot.

The Sahara Desert is expanding

If the current weather conditions continue, the Sahara, which covers large areas of Algeria, Egypt, Chad, Mali, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Tunisia and Sudan, could expand even further. These incredible tourist attractions don’t look like they used to.

The Sahara Desert is expanding

Most of the living things here accumulate on the edges of the Sahara Desert, close to the few water sources and vegetation that exist, but as the desert grows, the vegetation and wildlife will likely fall back or move on. If crops fail there will also be a greater risk of famine for the people living there.

Venice could disappear underwater

Venice could disappear underwater

Most recently, in November 2019, Venice experienced its worst flooding for over half a century, as water levels reached 6.1 feet (1.8m) at its peak, causing 80% of the city to flood. St Mark’s Square (pictured) was off-limits, as residents and tourists waded through the streets, schools closed for a number of days and the government declared a state of emergency. High tides, worsened by sirocco winds blowing from Africa, caused damage to homes, monuments and killed two people.

Venice could disappear underwater

One of the world’s most famous cathedrals, St Mark’s Basilica was under nearly five feet (1.5m) of water and suffered damage totaling $5.5 million. It’s believed this is only the sixth time such a high level of water has been seen in the building’s 1,000-year history. 

Venice could disappear underwater

Sadly, it’s not the only example of flooding in the past decade. In May 2019, unusually high tides forced street closures, while in October 2018, the city saw a particularly horrific storm which plunged three-quarters of Venice underwater, with levels reaching five feet (1.56m). Areas in north and west Italy also experienced flooding and heavy winds, and 11 people were killed. October 2012 saw more than 70% of the city underwater and the levels rose up to nearly five feet (1.5m) above sea level. However at the time of writing, the record high water mark in the city occurred during the floods of 1966, when it rose to 6.3 feet (1.94m) above sea level.

New hope for Venice

The threat to Venice from climate change, pollution and human interference was further highlighted during the coronavirus pandemic. This image captured in Venice on 18 March 2020, during Italy’s lockdown, revealed an astonishing transformation in the canals after just a few weeks of reduced tourist numbers and traffic. As cruise ships and motorized boats disappeared, sediments had time to settle in the calm water revealing the sandy waterbed and Venice’s usually obscured plant life, shoals of tiny fish and even crabs.

New hope for Venice

There is further hope on the horizon, too. On 10 July 2020, the MOSE (Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico) flood barrier (shown here under construction) was tested for the first time, after years of delays and setbacks. A feat of civil engineering, the one-mile (1.5km) powerful series of floodgates covers the inlets to the lagoon, protecting Venice from any imminent flooding. Experts involved in the project say it’ll take a further 18 months of testing before it can be used full time, but it’s a start.

Now take a look at the world’s most unexpected weather events

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