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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12628.
×

Tsunami Warning and Preparedness

An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation’s Preparedness Efforts

Committee on the Review of the Tsunami Warning and Forecast System and Overview of the Nation’s Tsunami Preparedness

Ocean Studies Board

Division on Earth and Life Studies

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.
www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12628.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
500 Fifth Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This study was supported by the University of Alaska Fairbanks under contract number UAF-08-0050, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under contract number DG133W08SE4972, and the National Academy of Sciences. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.

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Front Cover: Image of the North Pacific Ocean depicts predicted maximum wave lengths. Contour lines indicate the travel times in hours of the leading tsunami wave generated by an earthquake near the Kuril Islands on November 15, 2006, with permission from Vasily Titov, NOAA/PMEL. Image of the tsunami hazard zone warning sign was provided by Jenifer Rhoades of NOAA. Tsunami public education: A small-group discussion between a seaside, Oregon, tsunami outreach coordinator and middle school student. Image courtesy of DOGAMI. Image of the DART buoy was taken from http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2005/images/dart_buoy-wave2.jpg, NOAA.

Additional copies of this report are available from the

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12628.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and medicine


The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.


The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering.


The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.


The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.


www.national-academies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12628.
×

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12628.
×

COMMITTEE ON THE REVIEW OF THE TSUNAMI WARNING AND FORECAST SYSTEM AND OVERVIEW OF THE NATION’S TSUNAMI PREPAREDNESS

JOHN A. ORCUTT (Chair),

University of California, San Diego, La Jolla

MARTHA R. GRABOWSKI (Vice-chair),

Le Moyne College, Syracuse, New York, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York

BRIAN F. ATWATER,

U.S. Geological Survey, Seattle, Washington

ANN BOSTROM,

University of Washington, Seattle

GEORGE CRAWFORD,

Washington State Emergency Management Division (Retired), Camp Murray

RICHARD K. EISNER,

Research Center for Disaster Reduction Systems, Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto University, Japan

JIAN LIN,

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts

DOUGLAS S. LUTHER*,

University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu

HUGH B. MILBURN,

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Retired), Lake Forest Park, Washington

DENNIS S. MILETI,

University of Colorado (Retired), Rancho Mirage, California

EMILE A. OKAL*,

Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

COSTAS E. SYNOLAKIS,

University of Southern California, Los Angeles

NATHAN J. WOOD,

U.S. Geological Survey, Vancouver, Washington

HARRY YEH,

Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon

Staff

CLAUDIA MENGELT, Study Director

SUSAN PARK, Senior Program Officer (until December 2009)

DEBORAH GLICKSON, Program Officer (from January 2010)

PAMELA LEWIS, Administrative Coordinator

SHERRIE FORREST, Research Associate

JEREMY JUSTICE, Senior Program Assistant

HELENA ANTOUN, Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow (from September to December 2009)

IAN BROSNAN, Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow (from January to April 2010)

*

Resigned from the committee.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12628.
×

OCEAN STUDIES BOARD

DONALD F. BOESCH (Chair),

University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Cambridge

EDWARD A. BOYLE,

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge

JORGE E. CORREDOR,

University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez

KEITH R. CRIDDLE,

University of Alaska Fairbanks, Juneau

JODY W. DEMING,

University of Washington, Seattle

MARY (MISSY) H. FEELEY,

ExxonMobil Exploration Company, Houston, Texas

ROBERT HALLBERG,

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Princeton University, New Jersey

DEBRA HERNANDEZ,

Hernandez and Company, Isle of Palms, South Carolina

ROBERT A. HOLMAN,

Oregon State University, Corvallis

KIHO KIM,

American University, Washington, DC

BARBARA A. KNUTH,

Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

ROBERT A. LAWSON,

Science Applications International Corporation, San Diego, California

GEORGE I. MATSUMOTO,

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, California

JAY S. PEARLMAN,

The Boeing Company (retired), Port Angeles, Washington

ANDREW A. ROSENBERG,

Conservation International, Arlington, Virginia

DANIEL L. RUDNICK,

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California

ROBERT J. SERAFIN,

National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

ANNE M. TREHU,

Oregon State University, Corvallis

PETER L. TYACK,

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts

DAWN J. WRIGHT,

Oregon State University, Corvallis

JAMES A. YODER,

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts

Staff

SUSAN ROBERTS, Director

CLAUDIA MENGELT, Senior Program Officer

KIM WADDELL, Senior Program Officer

DEBORAH GLICKSON, Program Officer

MARTHA MCCONNELL, Program Officer

SHUBHA BANSKOTA, Financial Associate

PAMELA LEWIS, Administrative Coordinator

SHERRIE FORREST, Research Associate

JEREMY JUSTICE, Senior Program Assistant

EMILY OLIVER, Program Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12628.
×

Acknowledgments

This report was greatly enhanced by the participants of the meetings held as part of this study. To begin with, the committee would like to thank Jenifer Rhoades (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA]) for her tremendous assistance with providing supporting documentation from across NOAA and her presentation. The committee would like to acknowledge the efforts of those who gave presentations at meetings: Susan Asturias (San Diego County Office of Emergency Services), Rodey Batiza (National Science Foundation), Eddie Bernard (NOAA), Linda Bourque (University of California, Los Angeles), Gary Carver (Humboldt State University), Kwok Fai Cheung (University of Hawaii), Herb Dragert (Geological Survey of Canada), Paula Dunbar (NOAA), John Ferree (NOAA), James Goltz (California Emergency Management Agency), Roger Hansen (Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, Fairbanks), Barry Hirshorn (NOAA), Paul Huang (NOAA), William Knight (NOAA), William Leith (U.S. Geological Survey), Michael Lindell (Texas A&M University), Michael Mahoney (Federal Emergency Management Agency), Chris Maier (NOAA), Charles McCreery (NOAA), Susan McLean (NOAA), Anu Mittal (Government Accountability Office), David Oppenheimer (U.S. Geological Survey), Ervin Petty (Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management), George Priest (Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries), Karlene Roberts (University of California, Berkeley), John Sorensen (Oak Ridge National Laboratory), Adam Stein (NOAA), Elena Suleimani (Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, Fairbanks), Uri S. ten Brink (U.S. Geological Survey), Vasily Titov (NOAA), Louis Uccellini (NOAA), Christa von Hillebrandt (University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez), Stuart Weinstein (NOAA), Paul Whitmore (NOAA), Gene Whitney (Office of Science and Technology Policy), Jay Wilson (Clackamas County Emergency Management), Rick Wilson (California Geological Survey). These talks helped set the stage for fruitful discussions in the closed sessions that followed.

The committee is also grateful to a number of people who provided important discussion and/or material for this report: Leighton Ah Cook (Hawaii State Civil Defense), Christine Brown (Rochester Institute of Technology), Laura Kong (International Tsunami Information Center), Aurelio Mercado-Irizarry (University of Puerto Rico), Vickie Nadolski (NOAA), Therese Pierce (NOAA), Kevin Richards (Hawaii State Civil Defense), John Schelling (Washington Emergency Management Division), Edward Teixeira (Hawaii State Civil Defense), Tim Walsh (Washington State Department of Natural Resources), Ray Willemann (Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology), Brian Yanagi (International Tsunami Information Center), Joseph Zhang (Oregon Health and Science University).

This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12628.
×

possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report:

MANI K. CHANDY, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena

LORI DENGLER, Humboldt State University, Arcata, California

ERIC GEIST, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, California

FRANK I. GONZÁLEZ, University of Washington, Seattle

EVE GRUNTFEST, University of Oklahoma, Norman

ARLEEN A. HILL, University of Memphis, Tennessee

PHILIP LI-FAN LIU, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

CARL MAIDA, University of California, Los Angeles

FREDRIC RAICHLEN, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena

PETER M. SHEARER, University of California, San Diego

Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Robin K. McGuire, William Lettis and Associates, Inc., appointed by the Divison on Earth and Life Studies, and Robert A. Dalrymple, Johns Hopkins University, appointed by the Report Review Committee, who were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12628.
×
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12628.
×
   

 Community Preparedness Efforts,

 

86

   

 Developing and Delivering Effective Warning Messages,

 

92

   

 Developing Effective Messages,

 

92

   

 Effective Delivery of Warning Messages,

 

96

   

 Improving Coordination of Preparedness Needs and Evacuation Procedures,

 

99

   

 Improving Communication Among TWCs and NTHMP Members,

 

99

   

 Communicating Local Community Needs to NTHMP and the TWCs,

 

101

   

 Practicing Evacuation Procedures and Protocols,

 

103

   

 Post-Event Reconnaissance,

 

106

4

 

TSUNAMI DETECTION AND FORECASTING

 

109

   

 Summary,

 

109

   

 Detection of Earthquakes,

 

111

   

 Seismic Networks Used by the Tsunami Warning Centers,

 

112

   

 Algorithms for Estimating an Earthquake’s Tsunami Potential,

 

114

   

 Potential Use of Earthquake Alerts from the NEIC,

 

117

   

 Detection of Tsunamis with Sea Level Sensors,

 

119

   

 The Tsunami Warning Decision Process Before and After Enactment of Public Law 109-424,

 

119

   

 The Economic Value of the DART Network,

 

121

   

 Description of the Coastal Sea Level Gauge Network,

 

121

   

 Adequacy of the Geographical Coverage of the Coastal Sea Level Gauge Network,

 

128

   

 Reliability of the Coastal Sea Level Gauge Network,

 

129

   

 Coastal Sea Level Data Processing,

 

130

   

 Description of the Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis (DART) Network,

 

131

   

 Adequacy of the Geographical Coverage of the DART Network,

 

132

   

 Reliability of the DART Network,

 

139

   

 DART Data Processing,

 

145

   

 Sea Level Data Integration into Other U.S. and Global Observation Systems,

 

145

   

 Forecasting of a Tsunami Under Way,

 

147

   

 Instrumental Detection of Near-Field Tsunamis,

 

151

   

 Research Opportunities and New Technologies,

 

155

   

 Duration of High-Frequency P-Waves for Earthquake Moment Magnitude Estimation,

 

156

   

 Hydroacoustic Monitoring of Underwater Geophysical Events,

 

157

   

 Continuous GPS Measurements of Crustal Movement,

 

158

   

 Observation of Tsunami Wave Trains with Satellite Altimeters,

 

160

   

 Tsunami-Induced Sea-Surface Roughness and “Tsunami Shadows”,

 

161

   

 Direct Recording of Tsunami Waves by Island Seismometers,

 

161

   

 “Upward Continuation” of the Tsunami Wave and Its Detection in Space,

 

162

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12628.
×
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12628.
×

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12628.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12628.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12628.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12628.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12628.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12628.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12628.
×
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Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12628.
×
Page R8
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12628.
×
Page R9
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12628.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12628.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12628.
×
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Many coastal areas of the United States are at risk for tsunamis. After the catastrophic 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, legislation was passed to expand U.S. tsunami warning capabilities. Since then, the nation has made progress in several related areas on both the federal and state levels. At the federal level, NOAA has improved the ability to detect and forecast tsunamis by expanding the sensor network. Other federal and state activities to increase tsunami safety include: improvements to tsunami hazard and evacuation maps for many coastal communities; vulnerability assessments of some coastal populations in several states; and new efforts to increase public awareness of the hazard and how to respond.

Tsunami Warning and Preparedness explores the advances made in tsunami detection and preparedness, and identifies the challenges that still remain. The book describes areas of research and development that would improve tsunami education, preparation, and detection, especially with tsunamis that arrive less than an hour after the triggering event. It asserts that seamless coordination between the two Tsunami Warning Centers and clear communications to local officials and the public could create a timely and effective response to coastal communities facing a pending tsuanami.

According to Tsunami Warning and Preparedness, minimizing future losses to the nation from tsunamis requires persistent progress across the broad spectrum of efforts including: risk assessment, public education, government coordination, detection and forecasting, and warning-center operations. The book also suggests designing effective interagency exercises, using professional emergency-management standards to prepare communities, and prioritizing funding based on tsunami risk.

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