Palginõmm, V.; Orviku, K.; Suursaar, Ü.; Kont, A.; Tõnisson, H., and Rivis, R., 2018. Lessons Learned from Record-High Storm Surges and Associated Inundations in Pärnu, SW Estonia. In: Shim, J.-S.; Chun, I., and Lim, H.S. (eds.), Proceedings from the International Coastal Symposium (ICS) 2018 (Busan, Republic of Korea). Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue No. 85, pp. 1391–1395. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.
Due to changes in atmospheric circulation and warmer winters, the frequency of strong westerly storms associated with high sea level in ice-free sea conditions has increased over the last half-century on the western coast of Estonia including in Pärnu City. During the last 50 years Pärnu has suffered from two remarkably high storm surges and associated inundations – in 1967 (2.53 m above mean sea level) and in 2005 (2.75 m). This paper addresses the problem of coastal floods in Pärnu, analyzing different action plans in order to protect the city against floods, which may get even more disastrous due to climate change induced sea level rise. Our analysis showed that application of adaptation measures seems to be the most reasonable option for Pärnu, while the expenses on building a protective dam exceeds the potentially avoidable losses. A managed retreat was not acceptable either because the city would lose its identity as a famous summer resort with excellent sandy beaches. Dissipation of storm surge water over adjacent low-lying uninhabited territories would not give any clear effect reducing the high water level only by 5 centimetres as maximum. In case of adapting to temporary extensive floods, a more efficient warning system and better communication between the authorities and the local people are needed.