Unique Tsunami Alerting Device enters field testing

A new Tsunami Alerting Device (TAD) has been developed by the JRC to directly alert people at risk in the event of an incoming tsunami wave. When an earthquake occurs, innovative software automatically calculates within minutes the results of tsunami propagation predictions and activates a siren.

Thorough testing of the prototype device begun on 20 April in Setubal (Portugal), in collaboration with the local Civil Protection authorities.

The Tsunami Alerting Device (TAD) is activated by new software that quickly calculates the estimated wave height and travel time. JRC's software is based on a model that takes into account seismic parameters, such as the earthquake epicentre and magnitude, and pre-calculated potential tsunamis based on their historical locations. TAD consists of a panel equipped with data receivers, a display, an alerting siren and a loudspeaker.

The TAD can be connected with other existing local sea level measurement systems. This allows the device to activate the alarm also in the case of dangerous waves of non-seismic origin such as those created by landslides.

The TAD's capacity to directly and timely alert people at risk on coastal areas represents a major step forward towards the creation of effective tsunami early warning systems.

The device will be tested in Portugal, in Setubal, 50km south of Lisbon, in which the local municipality has already developed a detailed evacuation plan in case of flooding due to a potential Tsunami. The testing activity, to be conducted until April 2012, will be performed jointly by the JRC and local Civil Protection in order to determine appropriate operational parameters for the device. The JRC is already supporting the Institute of Meteorology that has been tasked by the Portuguese government to design and implement a National Tsunami Early Warning System. In this context, the JRC is providing scenario calculations, the development of a Tsunami Analysis System and testing of the TAD device.

The TAD is part of a global Tsunami Wave Propagation Model developed by the JRC in the context of the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS). GDACS was jointly developed by the JRC and the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA). It provides a platform for those involved in international disaster response (such as first disaster responders, Red Cross, NGOs etc) to exchange disaster-related information in a structured and predictable manner. GDACS automatically collects information from seismological organisations and integrates this with other data, such as population density, in order to estimate the potential impact of an event from a humanitarian point of view and alert those at risk in case of danger.

Source: JRC European Commission