Lago Maggiore, as seen from Incella above Brissago (photo: Markus Bernet)
Back in the summer of 1998, when I was betrothed to a complex character of Swiss persuasion, I spent a number of lazy afternoons in the Ticinese town of Ascona, chilling out in waterside bistros overlooking Lake Maggiore. This long, thin prealpine feature struck me then as mysterious, and my mind would often be distracted from the voice of my charming and endlessly nattering future mother-in-law, as I fantasised about what lay out of sight to the south in the depths of northern Italy. Markus Bernet‘s photo above captures that contemplative perspective.
I’m reminded now of those happy days by a press release from the Swiss aquatic research centre EAWAG, which presents results from a recent centimetre-scale sonar survey of the lake bed. With such high-resolution data, researchers are able to trace the historical development of Lago Maggiore, and predict what may happen to it in the future.
What is evident from the EAWAG sonar charts, say the researchers, is that the Maggia delta will at some point in the not too distant future cut off the uppermost part of Lago Maggiore, leading to two separate lakes. “That certainly won’t happen in the next 500 years,” says limnogeologist Flavio Anselmetti, but it looks likely within a millennium.