Guide At War with the Weather: Managing Large-Scale Risks in a New Era of Catastrophes (MIT Press)

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These are essentially dynamically equivalent to seismic tsunamis, the only differences being that meteotsunamis lack the transoceanic reach of significant seismic tsunamis and that the force that displaces the water is sustained over some length of time such that meteotsunamis cannot be modelled as having been caused instantaneously.

In spite of their lower energies, on shorelines where they can be amplified by resonance, they are sometimes powerful enough to cause localised damage and potential for loss of life. They have been documented in many places, including the Great Lakes, the Aegean Sea, the English Channel, and the Balearic Islands, where they are common enough to have a local name, rissaga. In Sicily they are called marubbio and in Nagasaki Bay, they are called abiki.

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Some examples of destructive meteotsunamis include 31 March at Nagasaki and 15 June at Menorca, the latter causing damage in the tens of millions of euros. Meteotsunamis should not be confused with storm surges , which are local increases in sea level associated with the low barometric pressure of passing tropical cyclones, nor should they be confused with setup, the temporary local raising of sea level caused by strong on-shore winds. Storm surges and setup are also dangerous causes of coastal flooding in severe weather but their dynamics are completely unrelated to tsunami waves.

There have been studies of the potential of the induction of and at least one actual attempt to create tsunami waves as a tectonic weapon. There has been considerable speculation on the possibility of using nuclear weapons to cause tsunamis near an enemy coastline. Even during World War II consideration of the idea using conventional explosives was explored.

Analysis of the effects of shallow and deep underwater explosions indicate that the energy of the explosions does not easily generate the kind of deep, all-ocean waveforms which are tsunamis; most of the energy creates steam, causes vertical fountains above the water, and creates compressional waveforms. Tsunamis cause damage by two mechanisms: the smashing force of a wall of water travelling at high speed, and the destructive power of a large volume of water draining off the land and carrying a large amount of debris with it, even with waves that do not appear to be large.

This is the formula used for calculating the velocity of shallow-water waves. Even the deep ocean is shallow in this sense because a tsunami wave is so long horizontally from crest to crest by comparison. The reason for the Japanese name "harbour wave" is that sometimes a village's fishermen would sail out, and encounter no unusual waves while out at sea fishing, and come back to land to find their village devastated by a huge wave. Since the wave still has the same very long period , the tsunami may take minutes to reach full height.

Except for the very largest tsunamis, the approaching wave does not break , but rather appears like a fast-moving tidal bore. When the tsunami's wave peak reaches the shore, the resulting temporary rise in sea level is termed run up. Run up is measured in metres above a reference sea level. The first wave to reach the shore may not have the highest run-up. They are caused by earthquakes, landslides, volcanic explosions, glacier calvings, and bolides.

All waves have a positive and negative peak; that is, a ridge and a trough. In the case of a propagating wave like a tsunami, either may be the first to arrive. If the first part to arrive at the shore is the ridge, a massive breaking wave or sudden flooding will be the first effect noticed on land.

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However, if the first part to arrive is a trough, a drawback will occur as the shoreline recedes dramatically, exposing normally submerged areas. The drawback can exceed hundreds of metres, and people unaware of the danger sometimes remain near the shore to satisfy their curiosity or to collect fish from the exposed seabed.

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A typical wave period for a damaging tsunami is about twelve minutes. Thus, the sea recedes in the drawback phase, with areas well below sea level exposed after three minutes. For the next six minutes, the wave trough builds into a ridge which may flood the coast, and destruction ensues. During the next six minutes, the wave changes from a ridge to a trough, and the flood waters recede in a second drawback.

Victims and debris may be swept into the ocean. The process repeats with succeeding waves. As with earthquakes, several attempts have been made to set up scales of tsunami intensity or magnitude to allow comparison between different events. The first scales used routinely to measure the intensity of tsunamis were the Sieberg - Ambraseys scale , used in the Mediterranean Sea and the Imamura-Iida intensity scale , used in the Pacific Ocean.

The latter scale was modified by Soloviev , who calculated the tsunami intensity " I " according to the formula:. In , following the intensively studied tsunamis in and , a new point scale was proposed, the Integrated Tsunami Intensity Scale ITIS , intended to match as closely as possible to the modified ESI and EMS earthquake intensity scales.

Several terms are used to describe the different characteristics of tsunami in terms of their height: [50] [51] [52] [53]. Drawbacks can serve as a brief warning. People who observe drawback many survivors report an accompanying sucking sound , can survive only if they immediately run for high ground or seek the upper floors of nearby buildings. In , ten-year-old Tilly Smith of Surrey , England, was on Maikhao beach in Phuket , Thailand with her parents and sister, and having learned about tsunamis recently in school, told her family that a tsunami might be imminent.

Her parents warned others minutes before the wave arrived, saving dozens of lives. She credited her geography teacher, Andrew Kearney. In the Indian Ocean tsunami drawback was not reported on the African coast or any other east-facing coasts that it reached. This was because the wave moved downwards on the eastern side of the fault line and upwards on the western side. The western pulse hit coastal Africa and other western areas. A tsunami cannot be precisely predicted, even if the magnitude and location of an earthquake is known. Geologists , oceanographers , and seismologists analyse each earthquake and based on many factors may or may not issue a tsunami warning.

However, there are some warning signs of an impending tsunami, and automated systems can provide warnings immediately after an earthquake in time to save lives. One of the most successful systems uses bottom pressure sensors, attached to buoys, which constantly monitor the pressure of the overlying water column. Regions with a high tsunami risk typically use tsunami warning systems to warn the population before the wave reaches land. On the west coast of the United States, which is prone to Pacific Ocean tsunami, warning signs indicate evacuation routes. In Japan, the community is well-educated about earthquakes and tsunamis, and along the Japanese shorelines the tsunami warning signs are reminders of the natural hazards together with a network of warning sirens, typically at the top of the cliff of surroundings hills.

It monitors Pacific Ocean seismic activity. A sufficiently large earthquake magnitude and other information triggers a tsunami warning. While the subduction zones around the Pacific are seismically active, not all earthquakes generate a tsunami. Computers assist in analysing the tsunami risk of every earthquake that occurs in the Pacific Ocean and the adjoining land masses. Tsunami hazard sign at Bamfield , British Columbia.

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A tsunami warning sign in Kamakura , Japan. The monument to the victims of the tsunami at Laupahoehoe , Hawaii. Tsunami Evacuation Route signage along U. Route , in Washington. As a direct result of the Indian Ocean tsunami, a re-appraisal of the tsunami threat for all coastal areas is being undertaken by national governments and the United Nations Disaster Mitigation Committee. A tsunami warning system is being installed in the Indian Ocean. Computer models can predict tsunami arrival, usually within minutes of the arrival time. Bottom pressure sensors can relay information in real time.

Based on these pressure readings and other seismic information and the seafloor's shape bathymetry and coastal topography , the models estimate the amplitude and surge height of the approaching tsunami. All Pacific Rim countries collaborate in the Tsunami Warning System and most regularly practise evacuation and other procedures.

In Japan, such preparation is mandatory for government, local authorities, emergency services and the population. Some zoologists hypothesise that some animal species have an ability to sense subsonic Rayleigh waves from an earthquake or a tsunami. If correct, monitoring their behaviour could provide advance warning of earthquakes and tsunamis. However, the evidence is controversial and is not widely accepted.

There are unsubstantiated claims about the Lisbon quake that some animals escaped to higher ground, while many other animals in the same areas drowned. The phenomenon was also noted by media sources in Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean earthquake. The elephants' reaction was to move away from the approaching noise. By contrast, some humans went to the shore to investigate and many drowned as a result. Along the United States west coast, in addition to sirens, warnings are sent on television and radio via the National Weather Service , using the Emergency Alert System.

In some tsunami-prone countries, earthquake engineering measures have been taken to reduce the damage caused onshore. Japan , where tsunami science and response measures first began following a disaster in , has produced ever-more elaborate countermeasures and response plans.

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Other localities have built floodgates of up to However, their effectiveness has been questioned, as tsunamis often overtop the barriers. The port town of Aonae was completely surrounded by a tsunami wall, but the waves washed right over the wall and destroyed all the wood-framed structures in the area. The wall may have succeeded in slowing down and moderating the height of the tsunami, but it did not prevent major destruction and loss of life.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Not to be confused with Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. For other uses, see Tsunami disambiguation and Tidal wave.


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Series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water. Play media. See also: List of historic tsunamis. Main article: Meteotsunami.