India will soon be the first country to develop a system that predicts the extent of deluge caused by tsunamis in real time. Scientists claim that this would be a ground-breaking system that will take the work of the Indian Tsunami Early Warning Centre (ITEWC) a step further.
ITEWC is a department of the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Sciences, Hyderabad which is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
Presently, it predicts the possible height of tsunami waves and the time it impacts the coast. Upgrading this system will enable it to predict the extent and level of flooding in real time. The specialised supercomputer required for this upgrade will cost about Rs 42 crore.
M Rajeevan Nair, secretary of Ministry of Science told Indian Express that the proposal to seek an upgrade in ITEWC, that calculates the inundations by tsunami waves is in its final stages.
He added that this system would also help other countries located near the Indian Ocean, like Australia and Indonesia.
Right now, the ITEWC has to depend on computer systems of IITM (Indian Institue of Tropical Meteorology), Pune for tsunami modelling since they have only 36 teraflop machines, which is less than the required machinery.
Satheesh C Shenoi, the director of INCOIS (Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services) highlighted the problem with this dependency. “Depending on IITM would be a huge risk if connectivity fails during an emergency. So, a proposal to procure half a petaflop supercomputer has been submitted to the ministry. We have developed necessary models, and testing is being done,” he said.
ITEWC had already proved its worth when it correctly detected an 8.6 magnitude earthquake on the western coast of Aceh in Northern Sumatra and accurately predicted that it would not generate tsunami waves. Its work can be further enhanced by setting up the supercomputer that calculates a tsunami wave’s flooding.
This would help the authorities in working on contingency plans in advance. “The Warning Centre is capable of issuing tsunami bulletins in less than 10 minutes after a major earthquake in the Indian Ocean, leaving us with a response/lead time of about 20 minutes for near source regions in the Andaman and Nicobar ad a few hours in the case of the mainland,” said Shenoi.