eesti teaduste
akadeemia kirjastus
Estonian Journal of Engineering

Estimates of wave climate in the northern Baltic Proper derived from visual wave observations at Vilsandi; 48–64

Full article in PDF format

Tarmo Soomere, Inga Zaitseva


Wave conditions, their seasonal cycle and long-term variations in the northern part of the Baltic Sea Proper are studied, based on visual wave observations at the Vilsandi Island near the coast of Saaremaa in 1954–2005. Typical wave periods are from 2 to 4 s. The monthly mean wave height follows the seasonal variation in wind speed and varies from about 0.4 m in April–July to almost 0.8 m in January. The annual mean wave height shows a quasiperiodic behaviour. The wave activity varied insignificantly in the 1960s and 1970s, considerably increased in the 1980s, was the highest just before the turn of the century and is decreasing starting from about 1998.


  1. Kahma, K., Pettersson, H. and Tuomi, L. Scatter diagram wave statistics from the northern Baltic Sea. MERI – Report Series of the Finnish Institute of Marine Research, 2003, 49, 15–32.

  2. Soomere, T., Behrens, A., Tuomi, L. and Nielsen, J. W. Unusual wave conditions in the northern Baltic Sea during windstorm Gudrun in January 2005. Geophys. Res. Abstr., 2006, 8, Paper 02851.

  3. Suursaar, Ü., Kullas, K., Otsmann, M., Saaremäe, I., Kuik, J. and Merilain, M. Hurricane Gudrun and modelling its hydrodynamic consequences in the Estonian coastal waters. Boreal Env. Res., 2006, 11, 143–159.

  4. Orviku, K., Jaagus, J., Kont, A., Ratas, U. and Rivis, R. Increasing activity of coastal processes associated with climate change in Estonia. J. Coastal Res., 2003, 19, 364–375.

  5. WASA Group. The WASA project: changing storm and wave climate in the northeast Atlantic and adjacent seas? GKSS Report 96/E/61, Geesthacht, 1995.

  6. Mietus, M. and von Storch, H. Reconstruction of the wave climate in the Proper Baltic Basin, April 1947–March 1988. GKSS Report 97/E/28, Geesthacht, 1997.

  7. Sterl, A. and Caires, S. Climatology, variability and extrema of ocean waves – the web-based KNMI/ERA-40 wave atlas. Int. J. Climatol., 2005, 25, 7, 963–977.


  8. Pettersson, H. Directional wave statistics from the southern Bothnian Sea 1992. Internal report 5/1994, Finnish Institute of Marine Research, Helsinki, 1994.

  9. Kahma, K., Rantanen, E. and Saarinen, J. Wave data from the southern Bothnian Sea 1973–1975, 1981. Internal report 1/1983, Finnish Institute of Marine Research, Helsinki, 1983.

10. Kahma, K. and Pettersson, H. Wave statistics from the Gulf of Finland. Internal report 1/1993, Finnish Institute of Marine Research, Helsinki, 1993.

11. Kahma, K. and Pettersson, H. Wave growth in a narrow fetch geometry. The Global Atmosphere and Ocean System, 1994, 2, 253–263.

12. Pettersson, H. Directional wave statistics from the Gulf of Finland 1990–1994. MERI – Report Series of the Finnish Institute of Marine Research, 2001, 44, 1–37.

13. Pettersson, H. Wave Growth in a Narrow Bay. PhD Thesis. Finnish Institute of Marine Research, Contributions No. 9, Helsinki, 2004.

14. Guide to the Applications of Marine Climatology. WMO Publication 781, Geneva, 2001.

15. Mårtensson, N. and Bergdahl, L. On the wave climate of the Southern Baltic. Report Series A:15, Department of Hydraulics, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, 1987.

16. Broman, B., Hammarklint, T., Rannat, K., Soomere, T. and Valdmann, A. Trends and extremes of wave fields in the north-eastern part of the Baltic Proper.Oceanologia, 2006, 48(S), 165–184.

17. Soomere, T. Wind wave statistics in Tallinn Bay. Boreal Env. Res., 2005, 10, 103–118.

18. Soomere, T. Unique wave conditions in the Baltic Sea in January 2005. Publicationes Geo­physicales Universitatis Tartuensis, 2006, 50, 215–224.

20. Davidan, I. N., Lopatoukhin, L. I. and Rozhkov, V. A. Wind Waves in the World Oceans. Gidrometeoizdat, Leningrad, 1985 (in Russian).

21. Mietus, M. (coordinator). The climate of the Baltic Sea Basin, Marine meteorology and related oceanographic activities. Report No. 41, World Meteorological Organisation, Geneva, 1998.

22. Soomere, T. Anisotropy of wind and wave regimes in the Baltic Proper. J. Sea Res., 2003, 49, 305–316.


23. Jönsson, A., Broman, B. and Rahm, L. Variations in the Baltic Sea wave fields. Ocean Eng., 2002, 30, 107–126.


24. Jönsson, A., Danielsson, A. and Rahm, L. Bottom type distribution based on wave friction velocity in the Baltic Sea. Continental Shelf Res., 2005, 25, 419–435.


25. Gayer, G., Günther, H. and Winkel, N. Wave climatology and extreme value analysis for the Baltic Sea area off the Warnemünde harbour entrance. Deutsche Hydrogr. Zeitschr., 1995, 47, 109–130.

26. Paplińska, B. Wave analysis at Lubiatowo and in the Pomeranian Bay based on measurements from 1997/1998 – comparison with modelled data (WAM4 model). Oceanologia, 1999, 41, 241–254.

27. Blomgren, S., Larsson, M. and Hanson, H. Numerical modelling of the wave climate in the southern Baltic Sea. J. Coastal Res., 2001, 17, 342–352.

28. Hogben, N., Da Cunha, N. M. C. and Oliver, G. F. Global Wave Statistics. Unwin Brothers, London, 1986.

29. Gulev, S. K. and Hasse, L. North Atlantic wind waves and wind stress fields from voluntary observing ship data. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 1998, 28, 1107–1130.


30. Gulev, S. K. and Hasse, L. Changes of wind waves in the North Atlantic over the last 30 years. Int. J. Climatol., 1999, 19, 1091–1117.


31. Orlenko, L. R., Lopatukhin, L. I. and Portnova, G. L. (eds.). Studies of the Hydrometeorological Regime of Tallinn Bay, Gidrometeoizdat, Leningrad, 1984 (in Russian).

32. Soomere, T. and Keevallik, S. Anisotropy of moderate and strong winds in the Baltic Proper. Proc. Estonian Acad. Sci. Eng., 2001, 7, 35–49.

33. Zaitseva, I. Lainetuse statistikast Eesti rannikuvetes visuaalsete vaatluste alusel. Manuscript, Eesti Mereakadeemia, Tallinn, 2006.

34. Vilsandi Meteoroloogia-hüdroloogiajaama Tehniline Teatmik. Eesti Meteoroloogia ja Hüdro­loo­gia Instituut, Tallinn, 1968.

35. Guidelines for Hydrometeorological Stations and Posts. Issue 3, Part 1. Meteorological Observations at Stations. Gidrometeoizdat, Leningrad, 1985 (in Russian).

36. Soomere, T. Wave regimes and anomalies off north-western Saaremaa Island. Proc. Estonian Acad. Sci. Eng., 2001, 7, 157–173.

37. IAHR working group on wave generation and analysis. List of sea-state parameters. J. Waterw. Port Coast. Ocean Eng., 1989, 115, 793–808.

39. Õmblus, A. Läänemere veetaseme aastase muutlikkuse käik ja hinnang amplituudile. MSc thesis. Tartu Ülikool, Tartu, 2005.

40. Vikebo, F., Furevik, T., Furnes, G., Kvamsto, N. G. and Reistad, M. Wave height variations in the North Sea and on the Norwegian Continental Shelf 1881–1999. Continental Shelf Res., 2003, 23, 251–263.


41. Bacon, S. and Carter, D. J. T. The wave climate changes in the North-Atlantic and North Sea. Int. J. Climatol., 1991, 11, 545–558.

42. Kushnir, Y., Cardone, V. J., Greenwood, J. G. and Cane, M. A. The recent increase of North Atlantic wave heights. J. Clim., 1997, 10, 2107–2113.


43. Johansson, M., Boman, H., Kahma, K. K. and Launiainen, J. Trends in sea level variability in the Baltic Sea. Boreal Environ. Res., 2001, 6, 159–179.

44. Alexandersson, H., Schmith, T., Iden, K. and Tuomenvirta, H. Long-term variations of the storm climate over NW Europe. The Global Atmosphere and Ocean System, 1998, 6, 97–120.

Back to Issue