The model, created by researchers at the Department of Marine Systems at TalTech at the request of the Estonian Environment Agency, provides information on wave conditions with an excellent spatial (point spacing 900 metres) and temporal resolution (1 hour) across the entirety of Estonia’s marine waters.
The forecast period for wave height and direction on the Baltic Sea is 72 hours, and the forecast is updated twice a day. The forecast can be viewed at: https://www.ilmateenistus.ee/meri/mereprognoosid/oluline-lainekorgus-ja-suund/#layers/waveheight.
The wave model receives input data on wind speed and direction from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts and is based on physics equations that take into account wave generation, interaction, propagation, and attenuation.
There has been high demand for a wave forecast, yet the information was not available until now. Ivar Ansper from the Department of Weather Forecasts of the Estonian Environment Agency stated that the model is an excellent example of research becoming a national operational service.
‘Skippers of recreational craft need it for safe navigation, ports need it for optimal operation, marine rescue teams need it for assessing the situation, and surfers need it for finding suitable surfing locations,’ he explained. ‘This development is important for the Environment Agency, as it facilitates the work of forecasters and allows us to significantly improve the marine weather forecasting services for which the Environment Agency is responsible.’
According to Senior Research Scientist Victor Alar from the Department of Marine Systems at Tallinn University of Technology, the deployment of the operational wave model is the fruit of extensive research and development: ‘For the past 15 years, we have been developing wave models, using them in various applied research projects, and providing forecasting in select locations such as ports. The new national service is fully automated and covers the entirety of Estonia’s marine waters with excellent spatial resolution.’
What had already been decades-long development work gained new momentum in the summer of 2020, when researchers at the Department of Marine Systems at Tallinn University of Technology began collaborating with the Environment Agency on the development of an operational wave forecast. The development was financed by the Environmental Investment Centre under the project ‘Operational Wave Forecasting System for Estonian Marine Waters’.