EARTHQUAKE AND VOLCANO MONITORING
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS),1 comprises federal, state, university, utility, and industry seismographic networks, provides near real-time (within minutes) information on the magnitude, location, and local shaking distribution for significant U.S. earthquakes. The USGS National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) provides authoritative information on both U.S. and global earthquakes and is staffed 24 hours a day. The ANSS was authorized by Congress in 2002 to significantly upgrade and expand the nation’s seismic monitoring capability; however, only 25 percent of the planned deployments had been achieved by the end of 2011 because of resource constraints. A recent National Research Council review of the multiagency National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program noted that many of the review’s other recommendations are critically dependent on data generated by ANSS (NRC, 2011a).
The USGS Volcano Hazard Program operates a monitoring network that includes local sensors (seismic, ground deformation, webcams, tilt, gas) combined with remote sensing on active volcanoes that pose a threat to lives, property, and air traffic (the latter through upper atmospheric ash clouds). Plans are currently under way to expand, modernize, and make interoperable the data flow of the U.S. volcano observatories into a National Volcano Early Warning System (NVEWS). Both the seismic and geodetic data are available in real time through NEIC. An American Association for the Advancement of Science review of the USGS Volcano Hazards Program conducted in 2007 strongly endorsed the implementation of NVEWS to develop an integrated, national framework for real-time, systematic, and cost-effective volcanic hazard monitoring (AAAS, 2007).
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).
METEOROLOGICAL MONITORING AND FORECASTING
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.
STREAMFLOW MONITORING AND FLOOD WARNING
Flood-stage warning in the United States is the responsibility of NOAA’s National Weather Service3 using sophisticated numerical models that incorporate real-time precipitation data as well as the real-time streamflow data from the USGS stream gauge network. The USGS stream gauge network provides a long-term record of river flow in addition to real-time data in support of flood monitoring. A 2007 report from the National Research Council recommended expanding the USGS monitoring activities on rivers and called for a plan for a 21st-century river monitoring system for data collection, transmission, and dissemination (NRC, 2007).
PUBLIC HEALTH WARNINGS
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)4 is charged with monitoring disease incidence and prevalence. The CDC surveillance system is designed to coordinate with the nation’s departments of health and with hospitals regarding reporting of any unusual patterns in infectious disease, and illness or deaths resulting from radioactive contamination, poisoning, or other sources. Research is needed to continue to improve this surveillance system and to design best practices in response when a problem is detected (e.g., NRC, 2011c).
AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science). 2007. Review of the United States Geological Survey Volcano Hazards Program. AAAS Research Competitiveness Program. Available at http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/publications/pdf/aaas2007.pdf.
NRC (National Research Council). 2007. River Science at the U.S. Geological Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
NRC. 2008. Ensuring the Climate Record from the NPOESS and GOES-R Spacecraft: Elements of a Strategy to Recover Measurement Capabilities Lost in Program Restructuring. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
NRC. 2009. Observing Weather and Climate from the Ground Up: A Nationwide Network of Networks. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
NRC. 2011a. National Earthquake Resilience: Research, Implementation, and Outreach. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
NRC. 2011b. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation’s Preparedness Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
NRC. 2011c. BioWatch and Public Health Surveillance: Evaluating Systems for the Early Detection of Biological Threats. Washington, D.C: National Academies Press.