Cargo Ships – A New Tsunami Detection & Warning Methodology


Researchers from the University of Hawaii partners with Matson and Maersk Shipping and the World Ocean Council to forecast Tsunami by Cargo ships.


The current techniques cannot detect the size and effect of the disastrous Tsunami.  The detection is very essential that the Coastal zone evacuations are tough at the last minute.

The recent research from the Researchers from the University of Hawaii along with Matson and Maersk shipping companies and the World Ocean Council reveals that the cargo ships can be used to forecast Tsunami.

How will this work?

  • 10 cargo ships will be equipped with real-time and high-accuracy GPS systems and satellite communications, where each vessel will act as an open ocean tide gauge.
  • Data from new tsunami sensors are streamed, via satellite to a shore based data centre from which they are processed and analysed for Tsunami signals.
  • The distributed network of sensors in the moving ships could provide enough time to vacate the coastal communities.

Over the past decade, it was very difficult to get enough information about potential tsunami threats, even though the advanced techniques were used for monitoring Tsunami. The problem is that very few sensors lie in the deep oceans between tsunami sources usually earthquakes occurring under the ocean trenches that mark where tectonic plates meet – and the distant coastlines that might be threatened.

The limitations for the current system of detection may be:

  • Gaps in the coverage of network
  • Routine outages of the instrument
  • Limited numbers deployed
  • Expensive to build and maintain

Also, some of the earlier incidents like 2011 Tohoku, Japan, earthquake and unanticipated type of fault slip that caused the 2012 event at Queen Charlotte Islands, Canada, highlighted weaknesses in this approach. A few more observations in the right places would have enabled the scientists to improve their estimates of the tsunami size.

A Game-changer:

NOAA Tsunami Warning centres along with the researchers ensure that this system will prove to be helpful for the scientists to help with their predictions.

Instead of deploying many more of the expensive traditional sensors to try to fill gaps in coverage, it makes a sense to use the ships that are already out there. It offers a cost effective way of acquiring many more observations to augment the current detection networks. This also leads to more accurate predictions being made more quickly.

The new ship-based detection network is the first step toward the creation of the dense global observing network needed to support the efforts of all tsunami warning centers to provide the best possible predictions of tsunami hazard to coastal communities. A new version of the shipboard package that can be deployed easily on a much greater number of ships will be developed.

Source: The Conversation 


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