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Page Updated: 17-Sep-2007
SPS Homepage > NATO-funded Studies & Projects

Flood risk analysis for the Gulf of Finland and Saint-Petersburg

Science for Peace project - SfP 981382

Project Summary
Photo Gallery
Starting Date
1 Oct 2006
Duration of project
3 years

Dr. Yosef Cherniawsky
Sidney, Canada

Dr. Evgueni Kulikov
Moscow, Russia
Dr. Aleksander Toomp
Tallinn, Estonia
Prof. Alexey Nakrasov
St. Petersburg, Russia
Dr. Oleg Nikitin
Moscow, Russia
Dr. Isaac Fain
Minsk, Belarus

Project Summary

This research project creates a detailed database of parameters which affect the sea-level, in order to estimate the risk of flooding in the Gulf of Finland as part of the Baltic Sea. This research is expected to improve the accuracy, reliability and speed of flood warnings for the cities on the Gulf of Finland, thus allowing for more efficient precautionary measures and mitigation of damage due to floods.

On Jan. 9, 2005, strong south-westerly winds in the Baltic Sea pushed water into the Gulf of Finland, raising the level in St. Petersburg ’s canals to 2.4 metres above normal. Several streets and cellars were flooded, necessitating evacuation and closure of six subway stations. Similar flooding in Tallinn, Helsinki, and other cities on the shores of the Gulf, caused considerable damage and exceeded previous records for January. Extremely high water levels are of great concern, especially for St. Petersburg, which is subject to almost annual flooding. St. Petersburg has been hit by devastating floods three times in the city's 300-year history – in 1777, 1824 and 1924. During the flood of Nov 19, 1824, the water level rose 4.2 metres!

In this research project, estimates of the flood parameters are based on historical sea level data from Russia, Finland, and Estonia and on more than 12 years of observations by radar altimeters in the Baltic Sea. Stochastic sea level models are complemented by analyses of data from an ocean circulation model of the Baltic Sea. In addition, the effects of the new St. Petersburg Flood Protection Barrier on water dynamics and water quality is studied with a high-resolution ocean model of the Neva Bay and the Eastern Gulf of Finland. Renewed co-operation between Estonian and Russian oceanographers, with expert contributions from Belarus and Canada, will allow the establishment of a common database of sea level observations. This database and the improved methodology developed in this project will provide more reliable estimates of recurrent cycles and of the risk of flooding of cities at the Gulf of Finland.


Photo Gallery

Flooding in Tallinn, Estonia, on January 9, 2005
(Photo 39Kb)
Flooding in Tallinn, Estonia, on January 9, 2005
(Photo 39Kb)
Flooded street in St. Petersburg, Russia, on January 9, 2005
(Photo 34Kb)
Projected time series of water level in St. Petersburg for the flood of November 18, 1824, and different stages of the Flood Protection Barrier, which is now under construction in the Neva Bay
(Photo 50Kb)
Decadal recurrence of extreme sea level values in the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland
(Photo 36Kb)