New Global Network Aims for Tsunami Warning System
WASHINGTON A global tsunami warning system to get critical information to people in the path of the potentially deadly waves was approved Wednesday as a top priority for the world's climate experts.
Initially, more than 60 countries and 40 organizations aim to trade real-time data about possible tsunamis, using climate sensors already in place, said retired Vice Adm. Conrad Lautenbacher, who heads the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Sensors detected the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami that devastated parts of South Asia, but this data did not reach those in harm's way, Lautenbacher said from Brussels, where the climate experts met.
"There are seismometers and there are tide gauges in the Indian Ocean," he said by telephone. "The issue was, none of them were connected to any central nervous system ... There was no network set up to transmit warnings."
The agreement on tsunami warnings was reached at a meeting that also agreed to a 10-year plan to coordinate all systems that observe Earth to give better prediction of climate and other phenomena, including earthquakes.
The coordinated effort is known as the Global Earth Observation System of Systems, or GEOSS for short. Experts first began discussing such plans 19 months ago.
Under the Earth observation plan, experts plan to link systems that already exist, and diplomats will have to frame agreements to let these varied systems work together "in a more efficient and coherent manner," Lautenbacher said.
There are currently some 100,000 observing stations on the ground, on buoys, ships, in the deep ocean, on aircraft, weather balloons and other platforms, in addition to some 50 environmental satellites.