Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

U.S. tsunami detection improves, but coastal areas still vulnerable, report finds

Date:
September 18, 2010
Source:
National Academy of Sciences
Summary:
The nation's ability to detect and forecast tsunamis has improved since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, but current efforts are still not sufficient to meet challenges posed by tsunamis generated near land that leave little time for warning, says a new report.

The nation's ability to detect and forecast tsunamis has improved since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, but current efforts are still not sufficient to meet challenges posed by tsunamis generated near land that leave little time for warning, says a new congressionally requested report from the National Research Council.

The report calls for a comprehensive national assessment of tsunami risk and improved communication and coordination among the two federal Tsunami Warning Centers, emergency managers, media, and the public.

"For a tsunami warning system to be effective, it must operate flawlessly, and emergency officials must coordinate seamlessly and communicate clearly," said John Orcutt, chair of the committee that wrote the report and a professor at the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif. "However, if a large earthquake near shore triggers a tsunami, it could reach the coast within minutes, allowing hardly any time to disseminate warnings and for the public to react. Education and preparation are necessary to ensure that people know how to recognize natural cues -- such as earthquake tremors or receding of the water line -- and take appropriate action, even if they do not receive an official warning."

At the request of Congress for a review of the nation's tsunami efforts, the report finds many enhancements have been made since 2004, including an increase in the amount and quality of hazard and evacuations maps and the expansion of the Deep-Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis (DART) sensor network that indicates the size of tsunamis. There have also been improvements in coastal sea-level stations and the Global Seismic Network operated and maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Science Foundation. Moreover, various states have evaluated select tsunami-prone communities and initiated several tsunami education and awareness efforts. However, improvements to the DART network's reliability, station coverage, and operations are needed.

In addition to expanding detection and forecasting, an ideal and comprehensive tsunami program will require risk assessments, public education, and a well-coordinated response, the committee concluded. Persistent progress in these areas will be needed. To gauge how to prioritize efforts, the report recommends first completing a comprehensive risk assessment that characterizes the hazards, inventories the threatened populations and assets, measures the preparedness and ability of individuals and communities to successfully evacuate, and estimates expected losses. Tsunami education and preparation could also be improved by undertaking periodic and comprehensive vulnerability assessments, establishing a review strategy and leadership chain for post-tsunami events, and creating new tsunami detection techniques and analyses.

Improving Warning Messages and Coordination

The committee determined that the likelihood of individuals responding appropriately to tsunami warnings increases if they receive consistent, clear, and accurate warning messages from the two Tsunami Warning Centers (TWCs), stationed in Alaska and Hawaii, and local and state emergency managers. Operating under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service, the TWCs monitor seismic activity and sea levels to detect tsunamis and warn emergency managers in their respective regional "areas of responsibility." However, even though the TWCs issue the warning messages, they cannot order evacuations because they are part of the federal government. Rather, local officials are responsible for transmitting alerts throughout their respective jurisdictions, issuing evacuation orders, managing evacuations, and declaring all-clears. Therefore, close coordination between the TWCs, states, and local jurisdictions is needed to ensure that the public receives consistent information about the threat and proper protective action.

Although multiple, consistent tsunami warning messages increase public responsiveness, the organizational model of two TWCs is problematic because the two sets of warnings often conflict, causing confusion among the media, some local officials, and the public. For example, in June 2005, media outlets in the Pacific Northwest received messages from both TWCs that seemingly contradicted each other because their respective areas of responsibility were not understood. The committee recommended that the message content be improved or that the two TWCs release one message that includes information for all areas under their responsibility.

The TWCs are also designed to be backups for each other, but they do not operate as such, creating an illusion of redundancy that could prove dangerous and costly, the report says. Significant changes need to occur in the management, operations, software and hardware architecture, and organizational culture for the two to become functionally redundant. Additionally, the committee recommended that as part of the long-range planning efforts, the TWC organizational structure should be evaluated -- including deciding whether multiple TWCs should issue a single message or a single, centrally managed center should be created, such as the Hurricane Center.

The report was sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; University of Alaska, Fairbanks; and National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies.

The full report is available at: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12628


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Academy of Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Academy of Sciences. "U.S. tsunami detection improves, but coastal areas still vulnerable, report finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100917151844.htm>.
National Academy of Sciences. (2010, September 18). U.S. tsunami detection improves, but coastal areas still vulnerable, report finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100917151844.htm
National Academy of Sciences. "U.S. tsunami detection improves, but coastal areas still vulnerable, report finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100917151844.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) The United Nations says water is a human right, but should it be free? Detroit has cut off water to residents who can't pay, and the U.N. isn't happy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) Suni, a rare northern white rhino at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, died Friday. This, as many media have pointed out, leaves people fearing extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins