Tsunami forecast to be made more accurate and efficient

Tsunami forecast to be made more accurate and efficient

Tsunami waves hitting a coastal town in Japan. Courtesy: NASA/ JPL

India: Disaster management and mitigation agencies will soon get a new tool to predict 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 be a great leap from the current forecasting system which can only tell the time of arrival and wave height.

The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), which is based in Hyderabad, is preparing a topographical map of the entire coastline of the country for a distance of two km from the shore in partnership with the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC).

Until now, the data for the entire east coast and up to Kochi from Kanyakumari has been collected. The remaining data would be collected by March next year.

Satheesh C. Shenoi, INCOIS Director, said the data collected as of yet is already being integrated with the tsunami warning model. As soon as the entire process is completed, INCOIS would be able to provide information to district authorities and other stakeholders in disaster management on what would be the extent of the disaster for various places. This would empower them to take an effective decision on the evacuation of people and fasten rescue and relief operations. They will be able to know to what degree each of the localities may be affected.

Dr. Shenoi said the new inundation forecast would most likely become operational by next year. The forecast will be available within approximately 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 in this direction.”

He also added “provision of information on 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 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’’.