National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2015

Detiding DART® buoy data for real-time extraction of source coefficients for operational tsunami forecasting

Percival, D.B., D.W. Denbo, M.C. Eblé, E. Gica, P.Y. Huang, H.O. Mofjeld, M.C. Spillane, V.V. Titov, and E.I. Tolkova

Pure Appl. Geophys., 172(6), 1653–1678, doi: 10.1007/s00024-014-0962-0 (2015)

US Tsunami Warning Centers use real-time bottom pressure (BP) data transmitted from a network of buoys deployed in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans to tune source coefficients of tsunami forecast models. For accurate coefficients and therefore forecasts, tides and background noise at the buoys must be accounted for through detiding. In this study, five methods for coefficient estimation are compared, each of which handles detiding differently. The first three subtract off a tidal prediction based on (1) a localized harmonic analysis involving 29 days of data immediately preceding the tsunami event, (2) 68 preexisting harmonic constituents specific to each buoy, and (3) an empirical orthogonal function fit to the previous 25 h of data. Method (4) is a Kalman smoother that uses method (1) as its input. These four methods estimate source coefficients after detiding. Method (5) estimates the coefficients simultaneously with a two-component harmonic model that accounts for the tides. The five methods are evaluated using archived data from 11 DART® buoys, to which selected artificial tsunami signals are superimposed. These buoys represent a full range of observed tidal conditions and background BP noise in the Pacific and Atlantic, and the artificial signals have a variety of patterns and induce varying signal-to-noise ratios. The root-mean-square errors (RMSEs) of least squares estimates of source coefficients using varying amounts of data are used to compare the five detiding methods. The RMSE varies over two orders of magnitude among detiding methods, generally decreasing in the order listed, with method (5) yielding the most accurate estimate of the source coefficient. The RMSE is substantially reduced by waiting for the first full wave of the tsunami signal to arrive. As a case study, the five methods are compared using data recorded from the devastating 2011 Japan tsunami.

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