The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) oversees the U.S. Tsunami Program2 with its mission to provide a 24-hour detection and warning system. The NOAA National Weather Service operates two tsunami warning centers that continuously monitor seismological data provided by the USGS from domestic and international seismic stations to evaluate earthquakes that have the potential to generate tsunamis. The tsunami warning centers also disseminate tsunami information and warning bulletins to government authorities and the public. NOAA uses the earthquake location magnitude and a system of buoys and tidal gauges as input into predictive tsunami inundation models. The Deep-Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis (DART) network was substantially expanded in 2008 from 6 to 39 buoys as a result of the Tsunami Warning and Education Act of 2006 (NRC, 2011b).


Accurate forecasting of extreme weather events critically relies on a number of land-based and space-based observation and monitoring networks and continuous data from them. The full restoration of important weather, climate, and environmental capabilities to two planned space missions (NPOESS and GOES-R), including measurement of ocean vector winds, all weather sea-surface temperatures, Earth’s radiation budget, high-temporal- and high-vertical-resolution measurements of temperature and water vapor from geosynchronous orbit, have been identified as key needs (NRC, 2008). The future status of existing, operational polar orbiting observational systems is uncertain; such systems also were not designed to capture strong winds or high waves (weather extremes).

Detailed weather observations on local and regional levels are essential to a range of needs from forecasting tornadoes to making decisions that affect energy security, public health and safety, transportation, agriculture, and all of our economic interests. As technological capabilities have become increasingly affordable, businesses, state and local governments, and individual weather enthusiasts have set up observing systems throughout the United States. However, because there is no national network tying many of these systems together, data collection methods are inconsistent and public accessibility is limited. NRC (2009) identifies short-term and long-term goals for federal government sponsors and other public and private partners in establishing a coordinated nationwide “network of networks” of weather and climate observation.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement