Monday, July 20, 2009

Happy Anniversary!! & Tsunami Detection

Aha! It's my 50th Post & its only taken me 11 months! Ha Ha Ha Ha. Well I started this blog hoping to post more prolifically than this, but time & life usually gets in the way. So I'm glad I've gotten around to it at all.
I'm interested in GIS (Global Information Systems) and GPS (Global Positioning Systems) and I'm thinking that this is really what will give me a job after my school career is over. I enjoy new developments and the ingenious ways that people use the satellites in order to create knowledge and help mankind around the globe.
There is a great new paper out about how the researchers analyzed the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman tsunami to gain the ability to track tsunami's through the water by watching the colour differences from satellites in space. This monitoring with hopefully give scientists the ability to warn communities by the ocean with specificity with time and area. Also, this tracking will be able to detect the exact source of the tsunami with incredible accuracy.
Tsunami's are unique waves in that they are shallow water waves that have very low amplitude, and are therefore very difficult to track over open ocean. Usually a boat will have no indication that a tsunami has passed below it, and only when the wave gets closer to the shore will the symptomatic crest be visible rising out of the water.
Currently, there are only 2 methods used to detect tsunamis before they strike the coast. One is a network of sensors that detect pressure differences that are scattered around the oceans (predominantly in the Pacific), and the other is to use satellites to measure sea surface height which is extremely accurate, but there are only a couple of satellites that are used in this way and they are restricted to their orbits.
The new method can use standard satellite equipment to contrast the difference between rough water (darker) which is symptomatic of tsunamis and calm or smooth water (lighter), in order to find out direction and speed of the tsunami. The monitoring can happen world wide (however, maybe not so much in higher lattitudes, depends on the range of the orbits of satellites), and without restriction to governments and economy like the current sensors that are expensive to make, operate and are only in few locations world wide.
O. A. Godin, V. G. Irisov, R. R. Leben, B. D. Hamlington, and G. A. Wick. (2009) Variations in sea surface roughness induced by the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman tsunami. Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. 9; 1135-1147.


flynnfx said...

Hello! You were talking about GPS, and all its wonderous applications - I think this might be something you would really enjoy once you get a GPS, it's called 'geocaching' - basically a GPS scavenger hunt worldwide - combines the great outdoors, a sense of adventure and fun, and a GPS.
Here's one of the well-known websites explaining it, and how it works.

The Real CAM said...

Yup, already a member :)
I love to join in and find the treasure, although I look like a little bit of a lunatic wandering around looking for the caches. (Some of those ppl like to hide them very well!)
U should try it sometime...
tonnes of fun for the whole family!
(And I'm gonna do it with my seedling, teach her how to use a GPS)