New tool to know tsunami better

Tsunami forecast set to reach the next level with a tool that can predict how far the waves will move into the land.
A new tool takes tsunami forecast to another level. (Source: IWP Flickr photos) A new tool takes tsunami forecast to another level. (Source: IWP Flickr photos)

Disaster management authorities are all set to get a new tool to handle tsunamis. They will be able to know how far the waves will move into the land at different places along the Indian coast. This will mark a significant jump from the present forecasting system which can only indicate the time of arrival and height of waves.

The Hyderabad-based Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) is preparing a topographical map of the entire coastline of the country for a distance of 2km from the shore in collaboration with the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Hyderabad. So far, the data has been collected over the entire east coast and up to Kochi from Kanyakumari. The rest is targeted to be completed by March next year.

Speaking to India Science Wire, INCOIS director Satheesh C. Shenoi says the data collected so far is already being integrated with the tsunami warning model. Once the entire process is completed, INCOIS would be able to provide information to district authorities and others involved in disaster management on what would be the extent of inundation for various places. They would then be able to take a more effective decision on the evacuation of people. They will be able to know to what degree each of the localities may be affected. Corrective measures such as evacuation and deployment of rescue and relief efforts will be more precise, so more effective. 

Dr Shenoi says the new inundation forecast was likely to become operational in about one year. The forecast will be available within about 25 minutes from the time a tsunamigenic earthquake strikes. “We would like to reduce the time taken for generating the warning to about 15 minutes. For that, there is a need to increase our computing power. We are working in this direction.”

He also notes that the provision of information on the possible extent of inundation may be termed as a quantum jump as that would move the Indian tsunami warning system to the third level. “The first level relates to the basic provision of a tsunami, based merely on earthquake information. The second level is where we are now: initial warning based on earthquake level plus information about the likely time of its arrival and the wave height,’’ he says. 

The new development comes on top of INCOIS’s efforts to prepare comprehensive vulnerability maps for seven areas of the east and west coast which are at high risk for a tsunami. The maps are already available for four areas-- Cuddalore, Puducherry and Rameswaram-Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu, and Machilipattinam in Andhra Pradesh. They are under preparation in Chennai, Paradeep in Orissa and Kollam-Alappuzha in Kerala. The maps detail all the buildings that may be in the path of a tsunami if it were to happen in any of these cities. 

Dr Shenoi also delivered a talk at the 82nd annual session of the Indian Academy of Science recently. The three-day meeting was attended by about 150 scientists from different parts of the country. (India Science Wire)





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