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Estonian Journal of Earth Sciences
ISSN 1736-7557 (Electronic)
ISSN 1736-4728 (Print)
Impact Factor (2020): 0.789

Storminess-related rhythmic ridge patterns on the coasts of Estonia; pp. 220–237

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Ülo Suursaar, Hannes Tõnisson


Buried or elevated coastal ridges may serve as archives of past variations in sea level and climate conditions. Sometimes such ridges or coastal scarps appear in patterns, particularly on uplifting coasts with adequate sediment supply. Along the seacoasts of Estonia, where relative-to-geoid postglacial uplift can vary between 1.7 and 3.4 mm/yr, at least 27 areas with rhythmic geomorphic patterns have been identified from LiDAR images and elevation data. Such patterns were mainly found on faster emerging and well-exposed, tideless coasts. These are mostly located at heights between 1 and 21 m above sea level, the formation of which corresponds to a period of up to 7500 years. Up to approximately 150 individual ridges were counted on some cross-shore sections. Ten of these ridge patterns that formed less than 4500 years ago were chosen for detailed characterization and analysis in search of possible forcing mechanisms. Among these more closely studied cases, the mean ridge spacing varied between 19 and 28 m. Using land uplift rates from the late Holocene period, the timespans of the corresponding cross sections were calculated. The average temporal periodicity of the ridges was between 23 and 39 years with a gross mean value of 31 years. Considering the regular nature of the ridges, they mostly do not reflect single extreme events, but rather a decadal-scale periodicity in storminess in the region of the Baltic Sea. Although a contribution from some kind of self-organization process is possible, the rhythmicity in ancient coastal ridge patterns is likely linked to quasi-periodic 25−40-year variability, which can be traced to Estonian long-term sea level records and wave hindcasts, as well as in regional storminess data and the North Atlantic Oscillation index.


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