China-led tsunami warning center for South China Sea region launched

Updated 2018-02-09 17:17:36

UN-led tsunami warning center for the South China Sea region in Beijing

China's maritime regulator said on Wednesday a UN-led tsunami warning center for the South China Sea region is now under trial operation in Beijing.

The system will help issue alerts in the event of a major earthquake measuring magnitude-6 in the region.

In the wake of the deadly Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami in 2004, the United Nations built the Pacific Tsunami warning and mitigation system. This serves as an international network to exchange data for rapid tsunami detection. In 2011, China decided to build its own early-warning center under the UN framework.

After seven years of international coordination and updates, now the tsunami warning center has expanded to cover the main body of the South China Sea, the Sulu Sea and the Celebes Sea, spanning over a total of nine countries.

The past efforts saw coordination on forecasting skills such as tsunami scenario database, as well as real-time numerical modeling based on rapid CMT solution and GPU & OpenMP hybrid parallel computing technology.

"We faced some challenges in international coordination during the process. It takes a great deal of efforts to incorporate and share massive data and resources among different countries and regions," said Yu Fujiang, director of the National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center (NMEFC).

"Meanwhile, the international coordination meeting under the UN framework is a biennial event, so it is not easy for us to set up the warning center for the South China Sea region within a short time," he added.

"A tsunami warning is a race against time. After the earthquake occurs, we must complete the entire warning procedure within 10 minutes. And, we can complete the whole task within 8 minutes," said Dr. Yuan Ye, head of the tsunami warning division, NMEFC.

"It is comparable with other warning systems such as the Northwest Pacific Tsunami Advisory Center (NWPTAC), the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) in regards to the delay time of issuing tsunami warning."

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