Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System Operational

UNESCO announced that an initial tsunami warning system for the Indian Ocean is now operational. The system will be capable of improved and faster detection of strong, tsunamogenic earthquakes; increased precision in the location of the epi- and hypocentres of earthquakes; confirmation of the presence of a tsunami wave after a strong earthquake; and issuing a range of advisories and warnings.

UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, which established the Pacific Tsunami Warning System in the mid-1960s, is coordinating the establishment of the Indian Ocean system. Other systems are planned for the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Caribbean.

There are now 26 national tsunami information centers in the Indian Ocean region, receiving data from 25 new seismographic stations and 3 deep-ocean sensors. But there is still a need for more capacity-building, particularly to ensure that warnings are relayed in a timely manner to affected populations. This need was demonstrated in grave manner by the July 2006 tsunami hitting Indonesia’s Java island. (See related item.)

UNESCO, “Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System Up and Running,” Press Release, 28 June 2006.
“Asia Tsunami Warning System Ready,” BBC News Online, 28 June 2006.