Tsunami Forecast Development: Bridging Science and Society

Saturday, February 13, 2016: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Marshall Ballroom East (Marriott Wardman Park)
Vasily Titov, NOAA/Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Seattle, WA
Development of the tsunami forecast capability has been coined before as “the Holy Grail” of the tsunami science. Since the beginning of institutionalized tsunami warning operations during last century, predicting tsunami impact with maximum accuracy and minimum time has been an illusive goal of tsunami scientists and tsunami warning operations. During 1990-2000, the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction, the international tsunami scientific community undertook a difficult task of developing the critical part for this goal: modeling capability that would provide accuracy needed for practical tsunami forecast. After exhaustive field, laboratory and modeling efforts by the international scientific community, the modeling capability has been achieved with accuracy deemed sufficient for operational use. First real-time tsunami modeling tools started to be used in the US and Japan. The observational component for tsunami warning operations had been improving in parallel, including coastal and deep-ocean measurements of tsunamis in real time.
The 2004 Sumatra tsunami has triggered the efforts of intensive implementation of prior science results into operational tsunami warning capabilities. At present, several international tsunami forecast systems, based on various modeling and detection capabilities, are operational. Since 2004, over 40 tsunamis, including the 2011 Japanese tsunami, provided real-time tests for tsunami forecast system capabilities. The talk will review the science and application of the tsunami forecast development, to evaluate if the modern tsunami forecast capabilities answer needs of modern society.