Tsunami

Researchers from NASA’ Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the Ohio State University (OSU) used satellite altimeters to observe “merging tsunamis”. The image comes from a data-based computer model that shows Tohoku-oki tsunami waves propagation. Waves peaks are depicted in red-brown, while depressions in sea surface appear in blue-green. Grayscale outlines show the location of mid-ocean ridges, peaks, and islands. Image: NASA.

Definition

A tsunami is a series of travelling waves of extremely long length and period, generated when a large volume of ocean water is rapidly displaced by a sudden displacement of the seabed. These series of waves are generated by a displacement of massive amounts of water through underwater earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or landslides. Tsunami waves travel at very high speed across the ocean but as they begin to reach shallow water they slow down and the wave grows steeper (IRDR Glossary).

The majority of tsunami are generated by shallow large earthquakes in subduction zones. Tsunami is also known as seismic sea waves because it is most often generated by earthquakes (UNESCO).

Facts and figures

The word tsunami is derived from the Japanese word “tsu” and “nami”, meaning “Harbor” and “Wave” respectively.

The speed of tsunami waves depends on ocean depth rather than the distance from the source of the wave. Scientists can predict when a tsunami will arrive at various places by knowing the source characteristics of the earthquake that generated the tsunami and the characteristics of the seafloor along the paths to those places. When the ocean is over 19,685 feet (6,000 m) deep, unnoticed tsunami waves can travel over 500 mph (804.67 kmh). One coastal community may see no damaging tsunami wave activity while in another nearby community destructive waves can be large and violent. Reefs, bays, entrances to rivers, undersea features and the slope of the beach help to modify the tsunami as it approaches the coastline (NOAA).

Dependent on the distance of the tsunami from its source, it may be classified as a:

  • Local/near field tsunami A tsunami from a nearby source for which its destructive effects are confined to coasts less than 1 hour tsunami travel time or typically within about 100 km from its source.
  • Regional tsunami A tsunami that is capable of destruction in a particular geographic region.
  • Destructive tsunami Happens when tsunami waves become extremely large in height, they savagely attack coastlines, causing devastating property damage and loss of life. A small wave only 30 cm high in the deep ocean may grow into a much larger wave 30 m high as it sweeps over the shore.
  • Non-Destructive Tsunami Mostly happens as a result of minor earthquakes and/or other events. It can be due to the source being far away from land or the earthquake being too small to have any effect when approaching the shore. When a small tsunami comes to the shoreline it is often seen as a strong and fast-moving tide (Caribbean Tsunami Information Center).

Related content

SAM Satellite

Landsat 3 was launched on March 5, 1978, three years after Landsat 2.
The Landsat program’s technical and scientific success together with political and economic pressures lead to the decision to commercialize an operational Landsat. To this end, responsibility was slated to shift from NASA (a research and development agency) to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the agency charged with operating the weather satellites. This was done via Presidential Directive/NSC-54 signed on Nov. 16, 1979 which assigned NOAA “management responsibility for civil operational land remote sensing activites.” (However, operational management was not transfered from NASA to NOAA until 1983).
Landsat 3 carried the same sensors as its predecessor: the Return Beam Vidicon (... read more

Launch date:
05/03/1978

Landsat 2 was launched into space onboard a Delta 2910 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California on January 22, 1975, two and a half years after Landsat 1. Originally named ERTS-B (Earth Resource Technology Satellite B), the spacecraft was renamed Landsat 2 prior to launch. The second Landsat was still considered an experimental project and was operated by NASA.
Landsat 2 carried the same sensors as its predecessor: the Return Beam Vidicon (RBV) and the Multispectral Scanner System (MSS).
On February 25, 1982 after seven years of service, Landsat 2 was removed from operations due to yaw control problems; it was offically decommissioned on July 27, 1983.

Instruments:
Return Beam Vidicon (RBV)
Multispectral Scanner (MSS)
 

Launch date:
22/01/1975

Landsat 1 was launched on July 23, 1972; at that time the satellite was known as the Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ERTS). It was the first Earth-observing satellite to be launched with the express intent to study and monitor our planet’s landmasses. To perform the monitoring, Landsat 1 carried two instruments: a camera system built by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) called the Return Beam Vidicon (RBV), and the Multispectral Scanner (MSS) built by the Hughes Aircraft Company. The RBV was supposed to be the prime instrument, but the MSS data were found to be superior. In addition, the RBV instrument was the source of an electrical transient that caused the satellite to briefly lose altitude control, according to the Landsat 1 Program Manager, Stan Weiland.
To help understand the... read more

Launch date:
23/07/1972

Noticias

Image: GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences.

On 22 December 2018 a large chunk of the Anak Krakatau volcanic island collapsed into the ocean, causing a tsunami that swept across Indonesia’s Sunda Strait. Because tsunami early warning systems are exclusively equipped to detect tsunamis that are generated by earthquakes, this volcanic collapse-caused tsunami took place without a warning. In the coastal regions of Java and Sumatra, where people were struck off guard, the tsunami killed 400 people and injured many more.

A recent research study published in Nature Communications and led by the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) has detected deformations in Anak Krakatau leading up to the tsunami that could serve as an... read more

Publishing date: 13/11/2019
This map shows the ground motion during the six months following the earthquake that struck the Indonesian Island of Sulawesi on 28 September 2018, and was obtained by processing Copernicus Sentinel-1 images acquired between October 2018 and April 2019. Image: ESA/contains Copernicus Sentinel data (2018–19), processed by Planetek Rheticus Service.

In September 2018, the Indonesian island of Sulawesi was hit by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake. The impact, combined with the tsunami, landslides, and soil liquefaction that followed, “... claimed well over 2000 lives, destroyed homes, buildings, infrastructure and farmland in several districts,” according to the European Space Agency (ESA)

Ten months later, response efforts are now moving into the... read more

Publishing date: 06/08/2019
Damage from a 7.4 earthquake and a tsunami that hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on 28 September 2018. Image: European Union/Pierre Prakash/Flickr.

In the past year, “there were 315 natural disaster events recorded with 11,804 deaths, over 68 million people affected, and US$131.7 billion in economic losses around the world.” This is according to the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) in its recently released 2018 Natural Disasters Report

While these 2018 natural disaster values represent a decrease when compared with the annual averages from 2008 to 2017, some geographic areas still experienced great losses of life and damages due to natural hazards. Indonesia was most adversely impacted in terms of lives... read more

Publishing date: 01/07/2019

As part of it advisory support activities, UN-SPIDER is carrying out out a Technical Advisory Mission (TAM) to Peru from 1 to 5 April to evaluate the current and potential use of space-based information in all aspects of disaster management. Based on exchanges with a wide range of stakeholders, UN-SPIDER will provide recommendations as to how to strengthen the use of space-based information in disaster risk management and emergency response in the country.

The team of experts led by UN-SPIDER is conducting multiple activities and institutional visits in Lima. The team is comprised of eight experts from UN-SPIDER; the German Aerospace Centre (... read more

Publishing date: 01/04/2019

Evento

Using NASA Remote Sensing for Disaster Management

NASA remote sensing and modeling resources are useful for managing a variety of disasters - including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, floods, landslides, wildfires, and oil spills - particularly in regions with very little in situ data. This webinar covers the fundamentals and techniques of monitoring Tsunamis, Earthquakes and Volcanoes, including pre-eruption monitoring, SAR-VIEWS, volcanic ash and remote sensing resources.

 

 

Learning Objectives: 

Participants will become aware of available NASA resources for... read more

In the intermediate webinar Remote Sensing for Disasters, participants learn the usage of NASA products to monitor three kinds of disasters. The webinar takes place in three sessions on each Tuesday from 16 until 30 April 2019, starting 10 to 12 am and 2 to 4 pm. It is taught in English and Spanish and is free of charge.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this training, attendees will be able to:

  • Identify NASA data products to characterize and monitor the disasters, Tropical Storms, Flooding, Landslides and Earthquakes, and support decision-making

  • Understand the different data products available and... read more

Data Source

Publishing institution: Canadian Space Agency (CSA)

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