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How cargo ships could help detect tsunamis

How cargo ships could help detect tsunamis

Hossen, Sheehan, and their colleagues have developed a model that can make a sensor array based on cargo ships actually work. Hossen is their first author paper published in Earth and Space SciencIn February, an assessment of the prediction of GPS tsunamis carried by ships in the Cascadia subduction field was performed using a computer simulation. Due to the stable boat traffic in the region, the researchers used the actual ship coordinates provided by the global data and analysis provider. Spire. Although maritime traffic typically follows similar routes, the number and spatial distribution of vessels vary, which has been taken into account in the simulations. The study also simulated changes in the elevation and speed of ships caused by the tsunami. The team used data assimilation, a technique that combines observations with a number model to improve predictions, predict virtual tsunamis.

Assuming that each vessel is equipped with a GPS sensor that can measure the exact elevation (and thus detect a passing tsunami) equipped with a GPS sensor, this simulation indicated that a distance of 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) between vessels in high-density areas would be sufficient. to be precise. that predictions and forecasts can be reliably made within 15 minutes of the tsunami.

And that matters Pacific coast yes some high tectonic activity from pressure buildup, according to scientists. “In the Cascadia subduction zone region, many studies show that a large earthquake is coming,” says Hossen. “We don’t know when and where a tsunami could trigger.”

But this system would not be ready to go immediately. While commercial boats use GPS, they don’t provide data on their elevation, exactly how much they’re doing. Worldwide Automatic Identification System (AIS) constantly follows their latitude and longitude, but these emissions do not take a toll, as the vessels are supposed to be at sea level. To detect tsunamis, these small elevation changes should be provided in real time, but given the ubiquity of satellite navigation, this information may be internally feasible.

“What I really liked about this method is that the method is cheap,” says Anne Bécel, a tenured Lamont Research Professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University who was not involved in the CU Boulder study. “If this method is fully developed, it would become very affordable in many countries where local tsunamis are threatened.”

Commercial vessels can complement, if not replace, existing mechanisms for detecting existing tsunamis by providing a much more cost-effective approach than adding new seabed pressure sensors. Ships that use GPS can record the height of the wave that can help predict the threat of a tsunami, which relates to potential damage, but they wouldn’t necessarily hear the alarm when a tsunami strikes, says Foster of the University of Stuttgart. “This system will never be the thing that will set off the alarm. It will be the case that there has been a huge earthquake that has set off the alarm,” he says.

Still, other geological events (such as submarine landslides and volcanic eruptions) can cause tsunamis. Sheehan, who is also a CIRES classmate, says it would be an advantage to have a warning system based solely on wave observations and not what caused it. “With this method, we’re not going to assume anything about the earthquake or the landslide or the tsunami. We’re watching the waves as the boats record, so you’re using real observations,” he says.

Foster says the shipping company has been very well received with the idea of ​​helping ships predict tsunamis. But before that can happen, scientists will need to do more research on the size of the mobile network that will be needed, as well as the accuracy and processing of boat-based GPS data.

Although the CU Boulder study was based on a simulation, adding more data from actual ships could have improved the findings, Bécel says. “The next step should be shown with high – precision GPS [researchers] the results have been the same with great accuracy, “he says.” It looks very promising right now. “

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