Tsunami warning system at INCOIS monitored nearly 630 earthquakes of 6.5 magnitude

V Rishi Kumar Hyderabad | Updated on December 25, 2020

December 26, 2020 marks the 16th anniversary of the Indian Ocean Tsunami

The Indian Tsunami Early Warning System (ITEWS), set up at the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad in October 2007 by the Union Ministry for Earth Sciences, has monitored nearly 630 earthquakes of magnitude of about 6.5 and above to date.

Of which 101 occurred in the Indian Ocean region and timely warnings were issued for these events.

Sumatra earthquake

December 26, 2020 marks the 16th anniversary of the Indian Ocean Tsunami that was triggered by the great Sumatra earthquake (Mw 9.3). Until December 2004, not many people in India were aware of tsunami and its devastating capacity to washout coastal areas.

The great Sumatra earthquake generated a tsunami which exposed the vulnerability of the Indian coastline. This has caused unprecedented loss of life and damage to property in the Indian Ocean rim countries. In response, the Ministry of Earth Sciences established the ITEWS as a multi-institutional endeavour. Since, then it has been providing early warnings of impending tsunamis in the Indian Ocean region.

The Indian Tsunami Early Warning System comprises real-time seismic monitoring network to detect tsunamigenic earthquakes, real-time sea-level network of tsunami buoys and tide gauges to monitor the tsunami waves, and numerical models to estimate the tsunami travel times and wave heights at the coast.

Through the continuous effort of scientists, INCOIS focussed its research and development efforts towards advanced procedures such as water level inversion, real-time inundation modelling, use of near-field GNSS measurements for real-time rupture characterisation and 3D mapping of vulnerable coastal areas.

“With the state-of-the art Tsunami Early Warning Centre, India is much safer against the threat of tsunamis. We will continue to work towards building disaster resilient coastal communities by adopting latest scientific advancements and undertaking community preparedness initiatives under a multi-hazard framework. As part of its multi-hazard focus, the ITEWS has already been enhanced with the capability to issue storm surge warnings,” Dr. Srinivasa Kumar, Director, INCOIS, said in a statement.

The 24X7 operational tsunami warning centre at INCOIS has innovated and introduced tsunami modeling and mapping of coastal inundation,.

The Tsunami Centre is also providing Tsunami advisories to 25 countries in the Indian Ocean region since October 2011 as a regional Tsunami Service Provider under the framework of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System of the UNESCO-IOC, along with Australia and Indonesia.

India is the first country in the Indian Ocean Region and Odisha is the first State to achieve the Tsunami Ready recognition. Being prepared for a tsunami hazard also enhances the capacities of communities to respond effectively to other coastal hazards such as cyclones and storm surges. This needs to be expanded to other coastal communities in India.

Published on December 25, 2020

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