SCIENTISTS DISCOVER A BETTER SYSTEM OF DETECTING KILLER TSUNAMIS IN TIME BY STUDYING SRI LANKA BOXING DAY SATELLITE IMAGES
Posted on July 16th, 2009

By Walter Jayawardhana

By extensively using satellite photos of the Boxing Day Tsunami of Sri Lanka scientists have discovered a better way of detecting killer tsunamis in time to evacuate people, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said.

By studying satellite images of the Indian Ocean in December 2004 the scientists were able to understand how the killer waves raced towards Sri Lanka and other places indicating clear patterns in the water. The researchers said the satellite images showed how the leading edge of the tsunami travelled.

Oleg Godin of the oceanic institution said, “We’ve found that roughness of the surface water provides a good measure of the true strength of the tsunami along its entire leading edge.”

He added, “This is the first time that we can see tsunami propagation in this way across the open ocean.”

The Tsunami was triggered by a huge earth quake in Indonesia in 2004 and killed 228,000 people in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and other countries.

Alarmed by the vast number of people killed countries installed mid-ocean buoys to supply early warnings when the huge waves pass them but critics said since the buoys cannot be installed everywhere on the ocean it is not a perfect system.

The tsunami waves when they travel in deep oceanic waters cannot be detected easily while they go through shallow waters they could be spotted very easily. But the satellites could detect them quite easily. But the disadvantage is that the satellites that could do this kind of spotting are not covering all the oceans.

The team headed by Godin found that tsunamis crossing the open ocean stir up and darken the surface of the waters along the leading edge of the of the wave. They opined in the report published in the Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences , many ordinary satellites could do this tsunami detective work.

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