Tsunami Forecast: Connecting Science with Warning Operations
Abstract:Tsunami modeling capability had been rapidly developing even before the watershed event of the 2004 Sumatra tsunami. During 1990-2000, the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction, the tsunami scientific community took on the difficult task of developing the modeling capability that would provide accuracy needed for long-term tsunami forecast — tsunami hazard maps. After exhaustive field, laboratory and modeling efforts by the international scientific community, the modeling capability has been achieved with accuracy deemed sufficient for operational use. Several real-time model forecast tools started to be used at TWCs in the US and Japan. In parallel, the observational component of tsunami warning systems had been improving, including updated existing seismic and coastal sea-level stations array. New early detection and measurement system (DART) has been developed specifically for tsunami forecast applications.
The 2004 Sumatra tsunami has triggered the efforts of intensive implementation of science results into operational tsunami warning capabilities. At present, several tsunami forecast systems, based on various modeling and detection capabilities, are operational. Since 2004, over 40 tsunamis, including the 2011 Japanese tsunami, provided real-time tests for the tsunami forecast system capabilities. Preliminary assessment of tsunami forecast performance will be presented based on the analysis of the U.S. operational tsunami inundation forecast. Assessing forecast performance is important to evaluate the needs for improvement and further research. Baseline of the tsunami forecast skills has now been established and will be presented based on the data from the tsunamis during the decade. Future improvements and future challenges will also be discussed.