Tsunamis: Monitoring, Detection, and Early Warning Systems [Updated December 12, 2006]   [open pdf - 444KB]

"Congress is concerned about the possible vulnerability of U.S. coastal areas to tsunamis and the adequacy of early warning for coastal areas. This stems from a December 26, 2004 tsunami that devastated many coastal areas around the northern Indian Ocean, where few tsunami early warning systems currently operate. Caused by a strong underwater earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, the tsunami claimed an estimated 220,000 lives. In December 2005, President Bush's plan for expanding U.S. tsunami detection and early warning coverage was released. Nations affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami, assisted by other counties, are pursuing multilateral efforts to develop a regional tsunami detection and warning network for coastal populations around the Indian Ocean (IOTWS). The U.N. Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO is leading that international effort. To leverage costs of the IOTWS, IOC members suggested "piggy backing" on existing distributive ocean observation and monitoring networks, data collection systems, marine buoys and tide gage networks, and global telecommunications systems, which may pose technical challenges in standardizing communications protocols and ensuring interoperability of systems. The Bush Administration and congressional supporters consider a fully deployed U.S. network an important component of a future global tsunami warning capability. Some developed countries bordering on the Indian Ocean currently operate tsunami warnings systems, but guarding their Pacific shores. Disaster management experts contend that a global tsunami early warning system capability is most useful in countries that have expansive regionally/locally based emergency management capabilities."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL32739
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