» Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System Functioning Autonomously
01.04.2013 - Natural Sciences Sector

Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System Functioning Autonomously

© Daniel Bisson

As of 31 March 2013, the Regional Tsunami Service Providers (RTSPs) of Australia, India and Indonesia are the only official source of tsunami advisories for the Indian Ocean.

Following the undersea earthquake on 26 December 2004 and the subsequent strongest tsunami in living memory, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO) took the lead in coordinating activities and immediate action to establish a Tsunami Warning System in the Indian Ocean. The response included the establishment of an  Interim Advisory Service to issue information bulletins concerning risks in the region until  the RTSPs could shoulder this responsibility.

This  Interim  Advisory Service was provided through the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) in Hawaii and since  April 2005.  While the RTSPs have been the primary source of tsunami advisories for the Indian Ocean since 12 October 2011, the PTWC and JMA continued to operate a parallel service until 31 March 2013.

The activities of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (ICG/IOTWS) will continue as before under IOC-UNESCO’s leadership, particularly the  Working Groups focusing on:

  • Tsunami Risk Assessment and Reduction
  • Tsunami Detection, Warning and Dissemination, and
  • Tsunami Awareness and Response.

The ICG will also help to organize full scale tsunami  exercises every 2 years. The next test will take place in 2014.

The decision to cease the  Interim  Advisory  Service was made by the Intergovernmental Coordination Group during its 9th session,  27-30 November 2012 in Jakarta, Indonesia. The  ICG expressed its deep appreciation to the Governments of Japan and of the United States of America for the provision of this service by the JMA and PTWC since April 2005 and acknowledged the excellent work of the  RTSP Task Team in implementing RTSP operational services for the tsunami warning system.

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