YubaNet.com
Monday, September 1 2014

            We Deliver News to the Sierra
News Fire News spacer Latest News spacer Regional News spacer California News spacer USA News spacer World News spacer Op-Ed spacer Enviro News spacer Sci Tech News spacer Life spacer Odd News spacer Cartoons spacer
Features The Calendar features features Weather features Sierra NightSky features features features Road Conditions features Home spacer
US
 

Outages Spread in Critical Tsunami Warning System

One-Third of Deep Ocean Stations Are “Dead”; Funding Woes May Preclude Fixes

    Google+    

By: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)

3_4_13_Dead_DARTS_1_.png
Red dots indicate a dead DART
Washington, DC March 4, 2013 - Our principal ocean-based tsunami warning system is suffering from large dead zones that compromise its effectiveness, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). New funding limits imposed by sequestration and unresolved budget strains inside of National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) may result in even more system outages.

NOAA completed its Deep Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis (DART) network of 39 anchored buoy stations covering the Pacific, Atlantic, Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico in 2008. NOAA claims the "DART network serves as the cornerstone of the U.S. tsunami warning system" yet one in three stations are not functioning. The average dead period for non-reporting DART stations exceeds 6 months. Other stations are reporting sporadic data that is not useable, say NOAA scientists.

Significantly, one area with a big coverage gap is the Kuril Trench, off the Pacific coast of Russia, part of the "Ring of Fire" named for its active tectonic subduction zones which generate large tsunamigenic earthquakes. Five of the DART buoys closest to the Kuril Trench are non-responsive.

Each DART is supposed to send acoustic signals from a transmitter anchored on the sea floor to a surface buoy. As a tsunami moves across the ocean, the DART reports bottom pressure changes in the entire column of water above. These open ocean readings provide NOAA's Tsunami Warning Centers with "data critical to real-time forecast" for "early detection of tsunamis" to enable more accurate watches, warnings and, if needed, evacuations, according to NOAA.

In the past decade, tsunamis have killed more people than almost every other natural hazard combined. Since 1900, more than 100 tsunamis have hit Pacific U.S. states and territories. Yet today, less than one in seven at-risk American communities is "adequately prepared for a tsunami," according to official estimates obtained by PEER. Of the 767 "tsunami at-risk communities" NOAA classifies only 100 communities as "TsunamiReady," a status denoting sufficient evacuation plans, emergency operations support, sirens, signage and other measures to mitigate tsunami losses.

"The DART network is part of a tsunami public safety net that is fraying," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. "In a tsunami, every moment of advance warning is crucial."

One year ago, NOAA proposed to cut back on DART maintenance, a step that would result in even more outages. It is expensive to maintain buoys in remote rough seas. Congress reversed those planned cuts.

This year however, NOAA, like other federal agencies, is experiencing stiff across-the-board cuts. Besides the sequestration, NOAA has yet to sort out a structural budget deficit as large as $100 million plaguing its National Weather Service and leading to several high-level resignations.

"Early detection of tsunamis is a core federal function which should not be a political football," Ruch added. "Hopefully, it will not take another tragedy for us to reinvest in tsunami readiness."

 

Help us bring you more news. Be a real reader: Support YubaNet

By submitting a comment you consent to our rules. You must use your real first and last name, not a nickname or alias. A comment here is just like a letter to the editor or a post on Facebook. Thank you.

 

Latest Headlines

US

Federal Court Protects Texas Women from Further Loss of Abortion Access

New article examines U.S. contribution to elephant poaching crisis in Africa

Ten CIA rendition victims urge Obama to name them in Senate torture report

After Great Recession, Americans are Unhappy, Worried, Pessimistic, Rutgers Study Finds

Board of Immigration Appeals Rules That Guatemalan Mother Who Fled Domestic Violence Can Be Granted Asylum

Court Grants Emergency Injunction to Delay BLM Wyoming Wild Horse Roundup

British resident Shaker Aamer 'beaten' in latest Guantanamo crackdown


More

 

 

 

 

NEWS . Fire News . Latest . Regional . California . USA . World . Op-Ed . Enviro . Sci/Tech . Life . Odd News . Cartoons
FEATURES . The Calendar .Weather . Sierra NightSky . Horoscope . Road Conditions
YubaNet.com . Advertising. About Us . Support YubaNet . Contact Us . Terms of Use . Privacy

YubaNet.com © 1999-2014
Nevada City, California (530) 478-9600