Pacific Islands to send their own tsunami warnings
Major Change to Tsunami Warning Systems for Pacific Islands Nations.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii has this month ceased its tsunami warning and watch advice service.
Replacing them is a new enhanced warning product called Tsunami Forecasting.
A Geophysicist at the centre, Gerard Fryer, explained to Koroi Hawkins what the changes mean for Pacific Island nations.
GERARD FRYER: A tsunami is directional in the waves it generates, sort of like rolling a log into water. If you roll a log into a pond you will get big waves of the middle of the log, but you will get smaller waves of the end. And if your country is off the end of the log, even though the tsunami arrives fairly quickly, its probably not going to be big enough for you to worry about. And so we now are replacing our old scheme with a new scheme where we are actually doing some numerical modelling to try to figure out how big the tsunami is going to be.
KOROI HAWKINS: And I understand that, although this is the date that you have changed is in October, there has been a lot of ground work in terms of working with the island tsunami watch centres as well. What has been, gone in for the training and getting them to understand the new product.
GF: First of all, the tsunami warning system under the auspices of the inter-governmental oceanographic commission of UNESCO, they have had meetings with representatives of all of the Pacific Island nations, for years, talking about this. And so quite what the messages would be and the language of the messages all of that was approved by a committee. And then a users guide has been published by UNESCO, and points of contact in each of the countries have been identified. And the International Tsunami Information Centre, here in Honolulu, has been brining people here and giving them classes in how the new products are going to work.
KH: In your opinion, is that the most efficient way to go about this? What about if the guy on duty in the government for example, in some of the Pacific Island government who are pretty, you know, they are pretty small operations or small ministries, what if someone doesn't receive that, that threat?
GF: Fortunately I am just a scientist and I am not qualified to, to address sociological issues. But I hope they have been told read the message if your threat level says you are going to get more than a metre then issue a warning. That is really how to interpret our messages if it says over a metre its dangerous. And I hope that, that enough of the receiving officials have at least been given that message.
KH: And to wrap it all up, in a nutshell, what do the new changes mean for Pacific Islanders?
GF: We are hoping what it means is that the warnings become much more reliable, fewer false alarms and a much greater understanding of what it is that is going to come. So it will help them work out what their response should be.
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