NOAA Completes US Tsunami Warning System

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration has completed the deployment of a tsunami warning system for the US by installing buoys throughout the ocean intended to give advanced warning of an impending tsunami.buoy.jpg

NOAA deployed the final two tsunami detection buoys in the South Pacific this week, completing the buoy network and bolstering the U.S. tsunami warning system. This vast network of 39 stations provides coastal communities in the Pacific, Atlantic, Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico with faster and more accurate tsunami warnings.

The buoys are ingenous little contraptions, designed to collect an array of quantitative data on the conditions from each site and relay that information back to central data collection and analysis points:

DART stations consist of a bottom pressure sensor anchored to the seafloor and a companion moored surface buoy. An acoustic link transmits data from the bottom pressure sensor to the surface buoy, and then satellite links relay the data to NOAA tsunami warning centers. The DART network serves as the cornerstone to the U.S. tsunami warning system.

This attempt comes via prompting from the catastrophic tsunami that struck Indonesia over three years ago:

Since the Indonesian tsunami of December 2004, NOAA has made significant upgrades to the U.S. tsunami warning system, including:

  • Installing 49 new or upgraded tide gages
  • Installing or upgrading eight seismic stations
  • Expanding the network of DART buoys from six (exclusively in the eastern Pacific) to 39 (from the western Pacific to the Atlantic)
  • Growing the number of TsunamiReady communities from 16 to more than 50 today
  • Developing 26 inundation forecast models and implementing a new Tsunami Warning System
  • Extending the operations of the Pacific and West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Centers to 24 hours a day
  • Assisting Australia and Indonesia with installing tsunami warning systems off their coasts.


Paul: Don’t forget that NOAA handles not only the atmosphere, but also the oceans (the National OCEANIC and Atmospheric Administration).

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