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December 26, 2004 Tsunami

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Tsunami Warning Systems

by Kevin Caruso

Tsunami Warning Systems consist of two parts:

1) A network of sensors to detect a tsunami.

2) A communication infrastructure designed to issue alarms so people in vulnerable areas may be evacuated.

Sadly, no such system existed for the Indian Ocean in 2004. Such a system could have save many lives.

A tsunami warning system does exist for the Pacific Ocean, and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC), located near Honolulu, Hawaii, is the operational center of the warning system.

The system consists of 26 member states that gather and report data using seismological and tidal stations. Data is analyzed 24 hours a day, and tsunami warnings are issued to emergency officials immediately when the data warrants.

The 26 member states of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center are (in Alphabetical order):

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • China
  • Columbia
  • Commonwealth of Independent States, Russian Federation
  • Cook Islands
  • Costa Rica
  • Democratic People's Republic of Korea
  • Ecuador
  • Fiji
  • France
  • Guatemala
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Nicaragua
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Republic of Korea
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • United Kingdom (Hong Kong)
  • United States of America
  • Western Samoa

Additional tsunami warning centers that work cooperatively with the PTWC are:

1) The Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

2) The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationís National Weather Service

The United Nations is working with various countries to implement a warning system similar to the PTWC for the Indian Ocean.

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