NOAA Provides First Tsunami Detection Buoy for the Indian Ocean

WASHINGTON, D.C. /PRNewswire/ -- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has joined the government of Thailand in launching the first Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunami (DART) buoy station in the Indian Ocean to assist in detecting tsunamis.

Following a ceremony in Phuket, Thailand, the MV SEAFDEC set sail yesterday to deploy the buoy about mid-way between Thailand and Sri Lanka. NOAA scientists and engineers are onboard to provide technical assistance during the launch operations.

With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), NOAA built and provided the DART station on behalf of the U.S. government. The buoy will be maintained by the Thai Meteorological Department and National Disaster Warning Center. The station's data will be available to all nations through the World Meteorological Organization Global Telecommunications System and will be part of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems.

The Thai buoy is the first of 22 tsunameters planned for the Indian Ocean's regional tsunami warning system. NOAA will provide a second DART buoy further to the south in the spring of 2007. This is part of an end-to-end warning system that includes tide gauges, communications upgrades, modeling, and dissemination systems for five countries -- Indonesia, India, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

"This is one of the most important milestones in building a robust tsunami warning and mitigation system for the Indian Ocean region," said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "I'm pleased that NOAA could contribute the technology and technical expertise to the Indian Ocean Warning System Program. Once operational, this system has the potential to save lives."

The DART system provides real-time tsunami detection as waves travel across open waters. The stations consist of a bottom pressure sensor that is anchored to the seafloor and a companion moored surface buoy. An acoustic link transmits data from the bottom pressure sensor to the surface buoy, and then satellite links relay the data to ground stations. The DART buoys were developed by NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and are being transitioned into NOAA's operational tsunami warning system that is being deployed.

Until a regional tsunami warning capability is established, NOAA's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, in Hawaii, and the Japan Meteorological Agency, are providing tsunami advisory and watches alerts to 27 Indian Ocean countries on an interim basis. The individual countries then determine if and how they issue a warning to their publics.

In 2007 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, celebrates 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

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