major tsunamis occurred in different parts of the world rine Environmental Lab in Seattle, Washington, op- and over 197,000 lives were lost in these storms. erates four deep-water tsunami detection buoys off the The most devastating tsunamis in Hawaii's history coasts of Alaska and Oregon that transmit live wave were generated by distant earthquakes and arrived sev- data to the Tsunami Warning Centers. Seismic net- eral hours later. With today's fast speed communica- works are being upgraded. tions systems used by the Tsunami Warning Centers, "We know a great deal about tsunamis and there is distant tsunamis can be announced with adequate time more to learn," said McCreery. "But all this knowl- to evacuate. edge does not matter if the public is not aware of the But even advanced technologies cannot predict a danger. Our goal is not to alarm, but to remind the tsunami caused by a nearshore source in time for wide public about safety precautions." public notification. In these situations, the earthquake Temperature of Earth's Highest Polar Clouds itself could provide the earliest warning. After the Measured for the First Time ground stops shaking, people near coastal areas should move to higher ground or inland immediately. An Scientists have for the first time obtained measure- earthquake or underwater landslide close to shore ments of upper atmosphere temperatures, iron densi- could generate a tsunami within minutes. ties, and mesospheric clouds over the North and South Strides are being made in tsunami education and Poles. They used a sensitive lidar (radar-like laser) sys- research. Following Hawaii's example, tsunami sci- tem, which was first deployed over Okinawa, Japan, entists are developing inundation models and evacu- to observe meteor trails during the 1998 Leonid me- ation maps in West Coast states. Hawaii's maps are teor shower. University of Illinois (UI) researchers published in the county phone directories and show have now used it to probe temperatures in the upper where shelters are located. Alaska is developing inun- atmosphere over both geographic poles. dation maps for Kodiak, Women's Bay, and Homer- "Measuring temperature profiles over the poles is Seldovia. California has completed mapping for San essential for validating global circulation models and Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Fran- for providing a baseline for assessing the impact of cisco-San Mateo, and is working on the central coast. global warming over the coming decades," said team The Coos Bay, Oregon, inundation map is finished and leader Chester Gardner, a professor of electrical and maps for Waldport, Rockaway, and Florence are in computer engineering. "Until now, we were limited to preparation. Washington is completing maps for Juan measurements taken with balloon-borne sensors to de Fuca St., Port Townsend, Port Angeles, Neah Bay, altitudes of less than 32 kilometers." La Push, and Puget Sound. In collaboration with scientists at the Aerospace With assistance from NOAA' s National Tsunami Corporation and the National Center for Atmospheric Hazard Mitigation Program, new tsunami curriculum Research (NCAR), Gardner and his UI colleagues— and video instruction has been developed for Wash- Professor George Papen, research scientist Xinzhao ington, Oregon, and California schools. Earthquake Chu, and graduate student Weilin Pan—developed a and tsunami evacuation drills are conducted regularly more robust lidar system for measuring temperature in Washington and Oregon schools. Tsunami interpre- profiles fro m the middle of the stratosphere (about 32 tive signs have been installed along coastal areas in km up) to the lower thermosphere at the edge of space Hawaii, survivor stories are being collected and filed, (about 110 km above earth). The system uses two pow- and computer modeling for distant-source and local- erful lasers operating in the near ultraviolet region of source tsunamis is in progress. NOAA's Pacific Ma- the spectrum and two telescopes to detect the laser pulses reflected from the atmosphere. The researchers use two techniques for determin- CERTIFIED CONSULTING METEOROLOGISTS ing temperature. For altitudes up to 80 km they mea- sure the amount of laser light reflected from air molecules to derive the temperature profile. For higher altitudes, they measure the scattering of the laser 602 Jay Rosenthal 2001 beams from iron atoms deposited in the upper atmo- sphere by vaporized meteors. In June 1999, the scientists flew the lidar system over the North Pole aboard an NCAR research plane Vol. 82,, No. 6, June 2001
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society – American Meteorological Society
Published: Jun 1, 2001
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