National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2016

Evolution of tsunami warning systems and products

Bernard, E., and V.V. Titov

Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. A, 373(2053), 20140371, doi: 10.1098/rsta.2014.0371 (2015)

Each year, about 60 000 people and $4 billion (US$) in assets are exposed to the global tsunami hazard. Accurate and reliable tsunami warning systems have been shown to provide a significant defence for this flooding hazard. However, the evolution of warning systems has been influenced by two processes: deadly tsunamis and available technology. In this paper, we explore the evolution of science and technology used in tsunami warning systems, the evolution of their products using warning technologies, and offer suggestions for a new generation of warning products, aimed at the flooding nature of the hazard, to reduce future tsunami impacts on society. We conclude that coastal communities would be well served by receiving three standardized, accurate, real-time tsunami warning products, namely (i) tsunami energy estimate, (ii) flooding maps and (iii) tsunami-induced harbour current maps to minimize the impact of tsunamis. Such information would arm communities with vital flooding guidance for evacuations and port operations. The advantage of global standardized flooding products delivered in a common format is efficiency and accuracy, which leads to effectiveness in promoting tsunami resilience at the community level.

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