First test of the Mediterranean Tsunami Warning System
The Tsunami Early Warning and Mitigation System in the North-eastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean and connected seas (NEAMTWS) will be tested on 10 August.
The purpose of the test of the warning system, first established in 2005 under the aegis of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), is to ensure effective communication between regional and national centres and tsunami warning focal points.
Thirty-one countries* will take part in the exercise which will include sending test messages via electronic mail, fax and the Global Telecommunication System (GTS)** from the Istanbul Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute (KOERI, Turkey) to all the national centres and tsunami warning focal points in the region concerned. This should reveal possible dysfunctions in the dissemination of warnings. Indeed, the fast transmission of data and reactivity of national centres and country focal points are crucial for the effectiveness of the entire tsunami warning system.
Historically strong seismic activity has been observed in the Mediterranean and North-eastern Atlantic, albeit less frequently than in the Pacific Ocean. A powerful earthquake in the Azores-Gibraltar Fault zone and subsequent tsunami destroyed the city of Lisbon in 1755. In 1908, a tsunami took the lives of 85,000 people in Messina (Italy). Weaker tsunamis have been observed more recently, notably the one generated off the coast of Algeria in 2003.
The Tsunami Early Warning System for the North-eastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean and connected seas is one of four regional Early Warning and Mitigation Systems which are coordinated by the IOC globally. Similar systems already exist for the Pacific and Indian oceans and for the Caribbean.
A more comprehensive test of a regional tsunami scenario involving the participation of the media will be conducted during 2012.
*The 31 Member States of the Intergovernmental Coordinating Group of the Tsunami Early Warning and Mitigation System in the North-eastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean and connected seas (ICG/NEAMTWS): Belgium, Bulgaria, Cape Verde, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom.
** The World Meteorological Organization’s GTS is the communications and data management component that allows the World Weather Watch to operate through the collection and distribution of information critical to its processes and warnings.