Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System formally established - Work begins on systems for the Caribbean and the MediterraneanThe Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System formally came into existence today with the establishment of an Intergovernmental Coordination Group (ICG) to govern it.
The 23rd Assembly of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) also adopted resolutions establishing similar bodies for the Caribbean and adjacent regions as well as the North-East Atlantic, the Mediterranean and connected seas.
Director-General Koďchiro Matsuura welcomed the developments and encouraged participants “to maintain the momentum that has allowed a great deal of progress to be achieved in a few short months.” Mr Matsuura also stressed that “UNESCO would continue to support Member States in their efforts to provide the best possible protection for their populations against tsunamis and other ocean-related hazards.”
The ICG for the Indian Ocean system will be made up of the IOC’s Member States in the region and be supported by a secretariat, provided by the IOC. The Group is expected to hold its first meeting from August 3 to 5, in Perth (Australia).
The Coordination Group will: coordinate IOTWS activities; organize and facilitate data exchange “at or near real time”; promote tsunami research; promote the establishment and further development of national tsunami warning and mitigation capacities; develop, adopt and monitor implementation of work plans of the IOTWS, and identify required resources; promote relevant capacity building; liase and coordinate with other tsunami warning systems, organizations, programmes and projects; promote the implementation of the warning system within a multi-hazard framework; and constantly scrutinize the status of the system and how it satisfies needs.
The framework for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System was established at two IOC-organized coordination meetings attended by countries from the region, donor nations and institutional partners. They agreed that the system will consist of “a coordinated network of national systems”, whose assets would be “owned and operated by the Member States hosting or otherways taking responsibility for them”.
The system, work on which has already begun, is expected to be fully operational by July 2006. It will consist of enhanced seismographic networks, networks of real-time sea-level gauges and deep-sea ocean pressure sensors, along with national tsunami warning centres linked to national disaster management systems.
In a fast-track effort to detect the presence or absence of a tsunami after a strong earthquake, the IOC has overseen the installation or upgrading of tide gauges. In addition to recording information about climate and sea-level change, this equipment is already transmitting real-time information that would enable the detection of a tsunami.
The resolutions concerning the Caribbean and the North East Atlantic and Mediterranean are based on the same lines.
The IOC Assembly also decided to establish a working group to set the framework for a global tsunami and other ocean-related hazards early warning system.