A regional training workshop on tsunami warning and emergency response SOPs for Northern and Eastern Indian Ocean countries was held at the Mercure Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, 23-27 September 2013, hosted by the Indonesian Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics (BMKG). The workshop was attended by 32 participants from 9 countries: Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor Leste. The workshop was conducted by a team of 12 trainers from Australia, India, Indonesia, United States, the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union and IOC UNESCO.
The participants represented National Tsunami Warning Centres (NTWCs), Disaster Management Organisations (DMOs) and national media organisations. The workshop programme included plenary lecture sessions, breakout group work, and site visits to the BMKG tsunami warning centre, the National Disaster Management Centre (BNPB) and a national media organisation (Metro TV).
The primary objectives of the workshop were: to understand RTSP services and products; to understand the impact of the RTSP products on NTWC SOPs; to identify potential gaps and possible challenges for warning chain SOPs at the national level; to familiarise the electronic media with the RTSP service and develop/adapt SOPs for interfacing with the media; and to prepare for the IOWave14 Exercise, scheduled to take place in late 2014.
The tabletop exercise on the last day of the workshop provided the participants with an opportunity to put into practice what they had learned. The NTWC groups reported that they found it difficult to respond to requests for information during the first 30 minutes of the exercise. On the other hand, the DMOs commented that they wanted more information, more quickly from the NTWCs. The media groups commented that they wanted to receive more information faster and preferably at the same time or before sources of unofficial information.
The inclusion of national media organisations in this workshop was particularly enlightening as it exposed several potential gaps in the flow of information between the media and other stakeholders. This highlighted the need for the media to develop SOPs that are harmonised and coherent with the SOPs of other national organisations in the warning chain.
Funding for the workshop was provided from IOC Special Account funds contributed by the Government of Australia. It is planned to conduct a similar workshop for Western and Northern Indian Ocean countries in Hyderabad, India, in 2014.
The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) published a brochure on its experience through the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011. It explains JMA's tsunami warning operation on that day, the lessons learned from the earthquake and tsunami as well as how JMA improved its tsunami warning operations based on those lessons. This brochure is firstly targeting people responsible for earthquake/tsunami early warnings/responses but also those who have an interest on what happened on March 11, 2011 to share the infrequent experience and knowledge widely. The brochure is available in English on JMA's website at:
The Twenty-fifth Session of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Pacific Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (ICG/PTWS-XXV) took place in Vladivostok, Russian Federation, 9-11 September 2013. The meeting was very well attended, with over 60 participants from 16 countries, one organisation (World Meteorological Organisation) and one business company (SAIC). The Group requested the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) to replace the current PTWC tsunami products for PTWS as from 1 October 2014 with the endorsed Enhanced Tsunami Products. The PTWC Enhanced Tsunami Products for the PTWS will no longer advise levels of alert to Member States, but instead provide more detailed forecast levels of tsunami threat for use by the National Tsunami Warning Centers (NTWCs). The Group also accepted China's proposal to build a South China Sea Tsunami Advisory Centre (SCSTAC) to service the approved sub-regional South China Sea Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System within the framework of the ICG/PTWS. China's National Marine Environmental Forecasting Centre (NMFEC) will be responsible for building the centre.
On August 7, 2013, NOAA’s National Ocean Service (NOS) Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) released new data products over the Global Telecommunication System (GTS). Included in this release is a set of one-minute water level data products, formatted into Character form for the Representation and EXchange of data (CREX) messages. CREX is table-driven code that follows World Meteorological Organization definitions, and allows a large set of data to be succinctly formatted into a human-readable message. One-minute water level data from each CO-OPS station is transmitted via GOES, Iridium, or phone/IP, and ingested into CO-OPS systems. During this ingestion process, the data are organized into regionalized CREX bulletins and disseminated over the GTS. WMO headers for these bulletins are:
SZNT31 KWBC (AtlanticCoast)
SZGX32 KWBC (GulfCoast)
SZCA33 KWBC (CaribbeanIslands)
SZPZ34 KWBC (PacificCoast)
SZAK35 KWBC (AlaskaCoast)
SZHW36 KWBC (Hawaii)
SZPA37 KWBC (Pacific Islands)
These products address a need for high-frequency sea level data collected at stations outside of the GOES footprint. CO-OPS plans to also develop BUFR products (the binary counterpart to CREX) in the near future.
On July 29-31, 2013 Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (FUNGLODE) of the Dominican Republic hosted the first Tsunami Safety Course tailored for the Tourism, Hotel and Security industries. Forty people participated in this event which was organized by its Global Institute for Higher Studies in Social Sciences and delivered in Santo Domingo. The objective was to provide the tourism and hotel sectors with basic knowledge on tsunamis, the national response protocols and elements for their preparedness and response plans. The format of the course included lectures as well as hands on exercises for the development of plans and responding to local and regional tsunamis. Josefina Reynoso of FUNGLODE and General Luis Luna Paulino, Chair of the National Emergency Commission emphasized that although tsunamis occur infrequently, the impact could be devastating and the task to prepare for such an event has to be ongoing. Dominican Republic has been affected by local and distant tsunamis. In 1946 two tsunamis are reported to have caused the death of over 1800 people along its northern coast. Currently, the county receives over 4 million visitors a year, 1.5 of which are US citizens. They are mostly attracted by its beautiful beaches where almost the entire tourism infrastructure is concentrated. The NWS Caribbean Tsunami Warning Program (CTWP), Puerto Rico Seismic Network (PRSN) and UNESCO IOC Tsunami Program developed the syllabus and coordinated with the local experts and stakeholders from the Civil Defense, National Meteorological Office, the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, Ministry of Environment and Global Matrix Corporation for the organization and delivery of the course. Given the positive feedback, FUNGLODE has already requested the CTWP, UNESCO and PRSN to help co-organize additional courses in the summer of 2014 with deliveries in key tourist areas. The syllabus and material used for this course could also serve as the base for other trainings for the tourism sector.
The Indonesian coast, between Banda Aceh and Meulaboh, after the earthquake and the tsunami of 26 December 2004. Photo by Evan Schneider © UN Photo
UNESCO supports Member States in improving capabilities for tsunami risk assessment, implementing early warning systems and enhancing preparedness of communities at risk. UNESCO works closely with national institutions and promotes inter-institutional and regional cooperation. Specialized regional centers provide tsunami information that, together with national analysis, is the basis of the warnings issued for the public. In addition, UNESCO promotes community-based approaches in the development of response plans and awareness campaigns which strongly involve education institutions and end-users.