hidden europe 26

Swallowed by the sea: Jordsand

by Nicky Gardner


Jordsand is no more. The island in the Wadden Sea was once German then Danish and provided valued summer grazing for livestock from Jutland. Now it has been swallowed by the waves.

Much of the focus of the international debate on climate change and its impact on coastlines relates to the effects of global warming in low latitudes. But Europe is not immune to the effects of rising sea levels. About one quarter of the territory of the Netherlands is below sea level. While geographers ponder the likely fate of tropical islands, tides are taking their toll on some of those islands' European counterparts.

Within historical times, several islands have simply disappeared in the Venetian lagoon. The former island of San Marco in Boccalama once housed a large monastery until the monks could hold back the rising tide no longer. They even sunk two ships to shore up the island's fragile sea defences. After the monks had left, the island found new life as a mass grave for victims of the plague in 1348. But then the waters of the lagoon rolled in and San Marco disappeared in a watery grave.

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