Towards real-time tsunami amplitude prediction



The catastrophic consequences of the 2004 Indian Ocean and the recent (17 July) Java tsunamis demand the development of modern and robust tsunami early warning systems.The greatest challenge of the German Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System (GITEWS), led by the National Center of Geosciences (GeoForschungsZentrum) in Potsdam, Germany, is to provide early tsunami warnings for the Indian Ocean coast of Indonesia where tsunamis can arrive 20–40 minutes after an earthquake.

This article shows that reliable prediction of tsunami wave heights at the Sumatra coast cannot be provided using traditional, earthquake-magnitude-based methods. Instead, a novel, real-time warning technique based on special types of near-field global positioning system (GPS) arrays—a ‘GPS shield’—may be more appropriate for Sumatra and elsewhere around the globe.