Tracking Tsunamis

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Japanese earthquake and tsunami

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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)


Over the past twenty years, NOAA has developed DART: a real-time monitoring system that provides data for forecasting tsunamis. The DART systems have been deployed in earthquake prone areas throughout the ocean, including the Pacific and Indian basins. A DART system combines a surface buoy and a sensor on the ocean floor. This sensor detects changes in water pressure and seismic activity and transmits the data back to the surface. If these changes indicate a tsunami may form, the buoy signals an alert via satellite to the Tsunami Warning Centers in Alaska and Hawaii. Today, 47 DART stations are positioned all around the world ready to detect and warn coastal communities about the next potential tsunami. With the DART system and Tsunami Warning Centers in place, we are now better prepared to predict a killer wave before it strikes.

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