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Land uplift animation shows how Finland's coast rises from the sea after the Ice Age

The Botnia-Atlantica project Lystra has been completed. The project resulted in a geological animation that can be viewed online. It can also be watched in nature visitor centres on the High Coast and Kvarken, such as the World Heritage Gateway in Raippaluoto. To create the animation, 2,500 reconstructions were made about ancient shorelines.

The Kvarken region 7,100 years ago. The area around Vaasa is covered by water.
The Kvarken region 7,100 years ago. The area around Vaasa is covered by water.

The animation visualises the land uplift phenomenon from the Ice Age until present day and long into the future. It shows concretely the enormous change in the Nordic landscape due to land uplift after the Ice Age. In addition to land uplift, the animation visualises the withdrawal of the continental ice sheet. The animation was developed by Viljami Perheentupa, who worked as a researcher at the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute (FGI).

‘Watching the animation shows the geological uniqueness of the World Heritage Site, and the historical impacts of land uplift on the shoreline are concretised in a novel way,’ says Juha Oksanen, Head of Department at FGI.

Land uplift has been modelled and visualised using open source code tools. CSC supercomputer environment was used in calculating the animation. The map application was also prepared using an open source code. 

The new web portal helps people visiting the World Heritage Site

The key aim of the Lystra project was to increase people’s awareness of the World Heritage Site and the number of visitors as well as boost the business sector in the area in a sustainable manner. The World Heritage Site covers the Swedish High Coast and the Kvarken Archipelago in Finland. 

Lystra was implemented through cooperation between several Finnish and Swedish project partners. The Kvarken Archipelago is one of Finland’s seven World Heritage Sites, and the only Natural Heritage Site in Finland. 
An open web portal was implemented in the Lystra project, where extensive information on the World Heritage Site is available.  

Researchers also investigated the impacts of a rise in sea level

The Lystra project also outlined other future scenarios. Land continues to rise in the Kvarken and High Coast area, though climate change may also accelerate the rise in sea level in the Baltic Sea.

‘The High Coast and Kvarken have highly different topographies, so even a sea level rise of less than one metre would have a major impact in the low-lying Kvarken area, while in the High Coast, even several metres would hardly change the shoreline,’ says assistant professor Maaria Nordman, joint professor for the National Land Survey of Finland and Aalto University.

If the most pessimistic forecasts came true and the glacier of the Western Antarctic collapsed during the next 300 years, Raippaluoto would be completely covered by water and the situation with Vaasa would not look good either.

‘Fortunately these scenarios are extremely unlikely,’ says Maaria Nordman. 

It is much more likely that more land will emerge in the next few decades. Globally, the rise in sea level is currently approximately three millimetres a year, while land in the Kvarken area rises eight to nine millimetres a year.

Lystra-hankkeen logo.




More information

Juha Oksanen, head of department, National Land Survey of Finland, +358 40 831 4092,

Assistant Professor Maaria Nordman, National Land Survey of Finland and Aalto University, +358 50 353 3852,


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