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Coastal flood risk Russia

Sea level rise in Russia

In the Kaliningrad enclave and in the Gulf of Finland, despite isostatic effects, a net sea level rise is projected of 60-80 cm (Kaliningrad area) over the period 2000-2100, and 40-60 cm along the Russian coastlines of the Gulf of Finland for the same period. Recent work estimates that relative sea levels have risen by 3 mm/yr since 1970. In addition, the Baltic is particularly affected by changes in wind climate. Storm surges, such as the one of 4 m at St Petersburg in 1924, may be severe. The area can also be markedly affected by changes in atmospheric sea level pressure (2).

Research suggests that sea surface levels in the Black Sea have increased by 2.5 mm/yr over the last 60 years and this is attributed largely to freshwater flux, although land movements may have played a role. There is probably an inflow of Mediterranean water, and this emphasizes the connection between the two water bodies (2).

Global sea level rise


For the latest results: see Europe Coastal floods


For the latest results: see Europe Coastal floods


Extreme water levels - Global trends

More recent studies provide additional evidence that trends in extreme coastal high water across the globe reflect the increases in mean sea level (8), suggesting that mean sea level rise rather than changes in storminess are largely contributing to this increase (although data are sparse in many regions and this lowers the confidence in this assessment). It is therefore considered likely that sea level rise has led to a change in extreme coastal high water levels. It is likely that there has been an anthropogenic influence on increasing extreme coastal high water levels via mean sea level contributions. While changes in storminess may contribute to changes in sea level extremes, the limited geographical coverage of studies to date and the uncertainties associated with storminess changes overall mean that a general assessment of the effects of storminess changes on storm surge is not possible at this time.

On the basis of studies of observed trends in extreme coastal high water levels it is very likely that mean sea level rise will contribute to upward trends in the future.


Particularly vulnerable to the projected sea-level rise is Russia’s second city, St. Petersburg, which is already regularly at risk of flooding when strong winds blow to the east from the Gulf of Finland. This vulnerability will only rise as sea level rises and storm surges grow more intense. St. Petersburg is not the only city at risk. The level of the Black Sea has been rising since the 1920s, and the rate of rise has increased significantly since the 1980s (currently about 2 centimeters per year). This will affect Russia’s main warm water port complex at Novorossiysk, where dry cargoes, crude oil, and refined petroleum products are all exported (1).

Sea level rise in the Black Sea is already threatening numerous ports and towns along the Russian, Ukrainian, and Georgian coasts (3).

There is very little work on the impact of climate change on Russia’s coastal regions. One study estimates that the population exposure to sea level rise (SLR) could increase from 189,000 in present to 226,000 under unmitigated A1B emissions scenario in 2070 (4).


The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Russia.

  1. Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (Roshydromet) (2008), in: US National Intelligence Council (2009)
  2. Climate Change Risk Management Ltd (2008)
  4. Hanson et al. (2010), in: Met Office Hadley Centre (2011)
  5. Bindoff et al. (2007), in: IPCC (2012)
  6. Church and White (2011), in: IPCC (2012)
  7. Velicogna (2009); Rignot et al. (2011); Sørensen et al. (2011), all in: IPCC (2012)
  8. Marcos et al. (2009); Haigh et al. (2010); Menendez and Woodworth (2010), all in: IPCC (2012)
  9. Cazenave et al. (2014)
  10. IPCC (2014)
  11. Watson et al. (2015)
  12. Yi et al. (2015)
  13. Church et al. (2013), in: Watson et al. (2015)
  14. Shepherd et al. (2012), in: Watson et al. (2015)
  15. Church et al. (2013), in: Watson et al. (2015)