In a reverse to most stories about global warming and erosion damaging our lighthouses, an inactive lighthouse in Estonia, the Kiipsaare Lighthouse on the island of Saaremaa, has actually straightened up due to erosion. The tower, constructed in 1933, began to list to one side (due to erosion) around 1991. A comparison of photos taken in 1981 and 1990 shows that the coastline had eroded at a rate of three meters (about 10 feet) per year. As the water edged closer to the lighthouse, the waves slammed the tower, and sucked the sand from underneath the base. A story in the Batic Times says the return to the straight and narrow was first noticed by a keeper at a nearby nature preservation center on January 25 of this year.
A pronounced list to the seaward side of seven to nine degrees, as seen in the photo, caused some people to refer to it as the “Pisa Tower of Saaremaa.” Kaarel Orviku, a geologist, said that the same forces that caused the seaward side to be washed away have done the same to the landward side, and thus the tower has turned slightly clockwise around its axis and leaned back toward the land. As of 22 February, the lighthouse was so straight the list, estimated to be now at one degree, was so slight as to be indiscernible. And it was just in time for the celebrations of the Republic of Estonia’s 90th anniversary celebrations.