Tsunami, you don’t need to know how it is pronounced (soo-nahm-ee) or from where the word is derived (Tsunami is from the Japanese word for harbor wave). What every body esp. living on the coasts, needs to know is that tsunami is a series of huge waves that happen after an undersea disturbance, such as an earthquake or volcano eruption. The waves travel in all directions from the area of disturbance, much like the ripples that go off after throwing a stone in a pond.
After the devastating 2004 Tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people emergency managers and other officials were in urgent need of operational tools that can provide accurate tsunami forecast as guidance for rapid, critical decisions in which lives and property can be saved.
The first of a planned network of tsunami early warning buoys is being laid in the Indian Ocean.
It will be anchored about 1,000 km (620 miles) off the west coast of Thailand, near the Nicobar Islands. It is hoped that eventually a network of 24 buoys will extend to Indonesia and Australia, along the deep and unstable fault-line that caused the 2004 earthquake. The buoy then uses satellite communication to pass on the gathered information to tsunami warning centers around the Indian Ocean.
The buoy is being placed between Thailand and Sri Lanka, two of the countries worst hit by the 2004 tsunami. This means tsunamis won’t be devastating anymore but still a lot needs to be done.
The system will only be effective if there are proper warning sirens installed in coastal communities as a smaller tsunami in July this year killed more than 600 people on the Indonesian island of Java, even though there were warnings from Pacific-based monitors. The more timely and precise the warnings are, the more effective actions can local emergency managers take and the more lives and property can be saved.
The new tsunami monitoring systems, positioned at strategic locations throughout the ocean, play a critical role in tsunami forecasting. Its development and implementation will increase the speed and accuracy of operational forecasts and warnings and will reduce the tsunami impacts on the population and infrastructure of coastal communities.