SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Bay Area researchers are using old technology to help move the science of tsunami prediction a step forward.

Technology used by oil rig operators and government agencies to monitor ocean currents is now being retooled so that scientists can run numerical models when an earthquake hits under the ocean to help determine if there will be a tsunami and in which direction it will go.

KCBS’ Rebecca Corral Reports:

“The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a number of buoys that measure pressure changes out in the open ocean,” said San Francisco State University researcher Toby Garfield. “They help verify what these numerical models are doing.”

Garfield co-authored a new study on the topic and is a professor of oceanography at SF State. He said the system, which is now placed along the California coast, measures the currents to confirm the time, intensity and location as a tsunami is set to hit.

“With the Japanese tsunami, we were able to take the data afterward and verify it in the data,” he said. “Now what will happen is the software will be changed so that we can make it part of a real-time prediction system.”

Mountain View-based Codar Ocean Sensors, which has manufactured most of the ocean radars around the world, said they plan to develop the software for the new system.

More info:
Japan Tsunami Current Flows Observed by HF Radars on Two Continents
Click here for the PDF

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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