City of Klaipeda and the Curonian Spit

Description of case study area:
Klaipeda is the third largest Lithuanian city, stretching along the Baltic sea and Curonian Lagoon on both banks of the river Dan. At present the population is 188,775 people. The city covers area of 98.32 km2. The city was founded on the 1st of August in 1252. It originated from the wooden castle of Livonian Order on the left bank of the river Dan. The German knights called the city Memelburg, but it had a Lithuanian name as well: Klaipeda. As time passed, both names became of equal value. Klaipeda is a unique city. It is the only one that includes a part of a peninsula, that is, the northern part of the Curonian Spit called Smiltyn. You can go there only by ferry that crosses the lagoon. The port of Klaipeda is the only northern port on the eastern coast of the Baltic sea that does not freeze. The port is the main transport connection between the east and the west, and over 7,000 ships from 45 countries come here every year. Klaipeda is an industrial centre of Western Lithuania with potential of being a major factor in Lithuania's industrial development. Having only 5.47% of the country's population, Klaipeda produces about a tenth of the country's industrial production and almost 80% of that of the county, while the input of Klaip?da city into the national budget amounts to 12%. In terms of sales volumes, the production of food products and drinks accounts for the largest share in the city's industry 25.8%; tobacco industry 21.7%, electric equipment 18.6%, production of transport equipment 14.7%, timber industry and its products 7.6%, furniture production 2.7%.
The Curonian Spit is a 98 km long and 0.4-4 km wide sand dune peninsula separating Baltic Sea and Curonian Lagoon. 2400 inhabitants live on the Curonian Spit. 52 km of the peninsula is covered by the Curonian Spit National Park, which is a home of highest moving dunes in Europe, rare plants. In the year 2000 Curonian Spit was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Short geographical description:

It is an ice-free port with favorable geographical position (55 Degrees 43' North latitude, 21 Degrees 07' East longitude) on the coast of the Baltic Sea and Curonian Lagoon, within close distance to other Baltic sea ports: Kaliningrad (Russia) and Riga (Latvia). The city covers an area of 98,35 km2.Average monthly air temperature in Klaipada in January is 1,4 Degrees C, in July - +17,1 Degrees C. Average annual temperature +7,4 degrees C. Annual precipitation rate: 752 mm.

Main climate change impacts and recommendations for adaptation

Shoreline and costal ecosystem

Before the implementation of ASTRA project climate change issues and sea level rise were not taken into consideration in the coastal management process. In the frame of ASTRA project the analysis of climate change impact on dunes was done. Deflation, surface erosion and changes in anthropogenic pressure were analysed and recommendations for adaptation provided.

Sea bottom and shoreline development model as a basis for future adaptation actions

Scientists from the Coastal Research and Planning Institute presented results of their investigations on the alterations of the Curonian lagoon ecosystems. Further increase of eutrophication was predicted and some improvement can be achieved only after strong reduction of the inflow of phosphates to the Curonian lagoon.

Human health

More than half of Klaipeda city inhabitants, especially elderly people, claim that they are more or less sensitive to meteorological conditions.

Meteosensitivity (%) of Western Lithuania residents

During the next century the number of extreme events, as well as duration of unfavourable weather conditions will increase. Changes in air quality due to meteorological conditions is very likely to be negative in the future, especially in summer.
Activities of the ASTRA project in the case study areas were divided into two parts: preparation of recommendations for adaptation and improvement of public warning system. A scheme for biometeorological forecast and a public warning system were developed. The biometeorological forecast includes information about thermal stress, UV radiation, unfavourable meteorological conditions and air quality, as well as recommendations for population, e.g., recommended type of clothes and behaviour, extreme events warnings, etc.


Three main risks were taken into consideration: flooding risk, storm risk and increase of weather extremity. Possible city inundation schemes were developed. Special report for city planners was prepared and it is likely that decision makers will take into account warnings of scientists and high risk zones will be allocated for green zones, parks but not for new buildings.

High risk zones of inundation in Klaipeda


Several resent forest fire events showed that the forest fire index that is currently in use in Lithuania does not reflect the real situation correctly. Warning issues were not presented in time. After analysis of several different indexes that are in use in other countries the most suitable index was found. The forest fire awareness system can be improved now due to the higher accuracy of forecast.
Lithuanian scientists have also prepared recommendations for city planners and foresters concerning the reduction of impact of increased storminess, improvement of forest fire prevention and protection, reduction of impact of diseases and insects on trees, as well as avoidance of degradation and increase of forest productivity.
Some findings of the investigations carried out in the frame of the ASTRA project as well as possible adaptation measures are presented in a draft of the National Implementation Strategy on Climate Change Convention.

Communication process with local stakeholders

Main objectives of the process carried out in Lithuanian case study areas were as follows:

Communication with local stakeholders in Lithuania was carried out in the form of regional seminars. During the period from June 2005 till December 2007 four regional seminars were organized in Klaipeda. More general information about climate change issue was provided to the general public in the articles published in the regional newspapers.

Stakeholders involved

More than 50 local stakeholders were involved in the process. Local stakeholders could be divided to the following groups:

Involved stakeholders groups were represented by different specialists - environmentalists, spatial planners, meteorology and climatology specialists, landscape architects, strategic planners and monitoring specialists, regional development specialists, persons working in the field of education, as well as politicians.

Project partners

Elena Talockaite (national coordinator)
Environmental Centre for Administration and Technology
Lydos 4, LT-44213 Kaunas, Lithuania
Tel. +370 37 423053, fax. +370 37 422797
[email protected],

Arunas Bukantis (impacts on social, economical and environmental sectors)
Vilnius University, Department of Hydrology and Climatology
M.K.Ciurlionio 21/27, LT-01213 Vilnius, Lithuania
Tel. +370 5 2398292, fax. +370 5 2398292
[email protected],

Regina Morkunaite (impacts on dunes and coastal area)
Institute of Geology and Geography
T.Sevcenkos 13, LT-03223 Vilnius, Lithuania
Tel. +370 5 2104694, fax. +370 5 2104695
[email protected],

Rasa Povilanskiene (representative of the case study area)
Klaipeda City Municipality
Liepu 11, LT-91502 Klaipeda, Lithuania
Tel. +370 46 396316, fax. +370 46 396169
[email protected],


 © GTK, 2007