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Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts (2011)

Chapter: Appendix B: Review of the Tsunami Warning and Forecast System and Overview of the Nation's Tsunami Preparedness

« Previous: Appendix A: Examples of Tsunami Sources That Threaten the United States
Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Review of the Tsunami Warning and Forecast System and Overview of the Nation's Tsunami Preparedness." 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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APPENDIX B
Review of the Tsunami Warning and Forecast System and Overview of the Nation’s Tsunami Preparedness

STATEMENT OF TASK

The committee will review progress toward tsunami preparedness in response to “Tsunami Risk Reduction for the United States” (National Science and Technology Council, December 2005) and the Tsunami Warning and Education Act (P.L. 109-424, December 2006). The National Science and Technology Policy report, spurred by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, called for a broad range of federal, state, and local efforts to reduce future losses from tsunamis in the United States. P.L. 109-424 authorized improvements to tsunami warning systems, community-based hazard mitigation programs, public education, scientific research, and international coordination. The committee’s task is divided into two parts as described below.

In the first part, the committee will produce an interim report to fulfill the congressional request in P.L. 109-424. The committee will review the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Tsunami Program to assess progress and improvements made since 2005 to strengthen the existing U.S. tsunami detection, forecast, and warning system. The committee will examine the effectiveness of this system for both near- and far-field tsunamigenic events, including:

  • Modeling of tsunami generation, propagation, and inundation

  • Forecast accuracy, warning notification, and dissemination

  • Reliability of observing and monitoring networks

  • Strategies to ensure long-term operational reliability and sustainability

  • Data quality control, management, archiving, and dissemination

  • Data acquisition, processing, and assessment for warning generation

  • Further modernization and geographic coverage needs

  • Probabilistic assessments of tsunami hazard that include data on the sizes and recurrence intervals of submarine earthquakes and landslides near U.S. shores

  • Level of coordination and integration with:

    • State and local level tsunami programs for facilitating mitigation

    • U.S. ocean and coastal observation systems, including the Integrated Ocean Observing System

Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Review of the Tsunami Warning and Forecast System and Overview of the Nation's Tsunami Preparedness." 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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  • Global observing systems, including the Global Earth Observing System of Systems

  • Priority areas of targeted research and development in the United States to improve performance and guide modernization efforts

In its assessment, the committee will consider measures in the tsunami detection, forecast, and warning program implemented and planned by NOAA under the Tsunami Warning and Education Act (P.L. 109-424).

In the second part, the committee will provide a general overview of national preparedness, based on existing compilations and national assessments including topics such as the following:

  • Adequacy of federal coordination and integration with state and local level tsunami programs for facilitating mitigation

  • Approaches to risk assessment that account for such things as levels and trends in human populations, economic assets, and critical facilities within tsunami-inundation zones

  • Availability of evacuation maps, routes, and structures

  • Education and outreach for children, adults, and tourists

The committee will examine a few federal, state, and local mitigation and education activities, including the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program and TsunamiReady Program, to include as specific examples in their overview of the nation's ability to reduce losses of life and property from future tsunamis.

In the final report, the committee will comment on how to optimize instrumental warning with these other elements of tsunami preparedness to serve the needs of end-users. The report will highlight opportunities to improve the nation's tsunami preparedness in the future and identify novel, promising approaches to risk assessment and instrumental warning systems.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Review of the Tsunami Warning and Forecast System and Overview of the Nation's Tsunami Preparedness." 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 217
Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Review of the Tsunami Warning and Forecast System and Overview of the Nation's Tsunami Preparedness." 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 218
Next: Appendix C: Relative Hazards of Near- and Far-field Tsunami Sources »
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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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