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Waiting and waiting for the next killer wave [tsunami early warning system]

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The United Nations working group on disaster reduction advocated building a tsunami early-warning system in the Indian Ocean, but nothing happened. Now the United Nations wants to put one together in a year. A tsunami alarm for the Indian Ocean may be worth the cost, but can it retain public support over the long haul? It took many scares over the course of half a century to coax the nations of the Pacific Ocean to build their tsunami warning network. But tsunamis are 2 percent as likely in the Indian Ocean, and the nations there will find it harder to maintain their resolve. The Pacific warning system ties together two elements: a surveillance network of seismic sensors, tide gauges, and satellites - and detailed maps of the ocean floor. Together they enable scientists to predict how hard a given tsunami will hit a given target's shores. Neither the monitoring nor the mapping has gone very far in the Indian Ocean.

Published in:

IEEE Spectrum  (Volume:42 ,  Issue: 3 )