National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce

First Study to Estimate Total Tsunami Energy Published

August 22, 2012

In papers published in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Oceans and Pure and Applied Geophysics, scientists from NOAA’s Center for Tsunami Research at PMEL and the University of Washington estimated, for the first time, the total energy of the 2011 Japan tsunami from measurements made in real time during the tsunami propagation. 

When using the new energy estimate in tsunami computer models, the model results matched actual tsunami flood levels along the coast of Japan with much higher accuracy than models run without the energy estimate. These results will help scientists to further improve the tsunami forecast system.