Members will hear testimony examining S. 50, the Tsunami Preparedness Act of 2005, and the U.S. Tsunami Warning System.
Statement of U.S. Senator Ted Stevens
Hearing on U.S. Tsunami Warning System
February 2, 2005
Welcome to our first hearing. We are honored to have Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Senator Mary Landrieu here to testify on their recent trip to the countries impacted by the Indian Ocean tsunami. And, we do thank them for their willingness to come. In 1994, Senator Inouye and I, along with Senator Hatfield of Oregon, directed NOAA to develop the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program. We had had a tsunami in 1968 after the earthquake, but this was in response to a small tsunami that impacted the West Coast. It reflected the concern we all shared about the frequency of tsunamis in the Pacific. This bill is intended to build on the current tsunami warning network that we have in the Pacific and I do thank the witnesses for being here today. Let me yield to Senator Inouye, our Co-Chairman.
Gordon H. SmithSenator
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE GORDON H. SMITH
SENATE COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE
February 2, 2005
Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for holding this hearing and for including on today’s witness list Dr. Daniel Cox from the O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Center at Oregon State University (OSU). I had the opportunity to tour OSU’s research facilities with Dr. Cox last year. I look to forward hearing from him as well as the other panelists. I want to thank each of today’s witnesses for being here.
As a Senator from a coastal state, I have a very obvious interest in today’s proceedings. Eighty-five percent of tsunamis occur in the Pacific Ocean. While in the United States we have been fortunate not to have experienced destruction on the scale currently seen in southeast Asia, the recent tragedy reminds how important it is that our communities are prepared in the event that a major tsunami strikes our coast.
Running along the Pacific Northwest – stretching from northern California to British Columbia – lies the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Research has shown that the Cascadia Subduction Zone has unleashed massive earthquakes off the coast of Pacific Northwest every few hundred years. The last such quake occurred in January 1700. This event was similar in magnitude to the Sumatra earthquake and sent huge tidal waves barreling into the shores of the Pacific Northwest.
In testimony prepared for today, Dr. Groat writes that “there is a 10-14 percent chance of a repeat of the Cascadia magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami event in the next 50 years.” Scientists estimate that given the proximity of the subduction zone to the coast – approximately 70 miles off shore – it would take a tsunami roughly 10 to 30 minutes from the time the fault line ruptured to strike the Oregon coast.
Warning and detection systems are important, but alone they are not enough to protect our coastal communities. Our coastal residents must know where to go and what to do when the ground begins to shake. To protect the safety of our coastal residents, we must continue to work with our state and local partners to accelerate tsunami inundation zone mapping and ensure contingency plans are in place for rapid evacuation of vulnerable low-lying communities.
I was pleased to join Senator Inouye, Senator Stevens, and number of my other Senate colleagues last week in introducing the Tsunami Preparedness Act of 2005. By improving tsunami detection and warning systems, as well as inundation mapping and community outreach and education, I am hopeful that this legislation will go along way toward helping our coast be better prepared should a tsunami strike. Thankfully, these events are rare and the cost of preparing for them is miniscule compared to the loss of life and property that could result if we are caught illequipped.
Mr. Chairman, I thank you again for holding this hearing and for the opportunity to speak. I look forward to learning more from today’s panelists. I also ask unanimous consent that the testimony of the Oregon Coastal Zone Management Association be entered into the Committee record.
Statement of Senator Barbara Boxer Tsunami Hearing February 2, 2005
Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing today. The December 26th Indian Ocean Tsunami was a terrible tragedy. The sheer devastation inflicted by the tsunami reminds us all how vulnerable our coastlines are to widespread damage. In California, this is a serious threat because we are home to miles of beautiful coastal communities, well within reach of potential damage caused by tsunamis.
Californians have confronted tsunamis in the past. On March 28, 1964, a tsunami originating from an earthquake near Alaska hit the Northern California community of Crescent City, killing 10 people, and damaging 91 homes and 197 businesses. The power of this tsunami was so intense, large buildings in Crescent City were uplifted by the force of the waves.
The Cape Mendocino earthquake in 1992 created a tsunami that wreaked havoc along California’s northern coastline. Thankfully, there were no deaths, but the 1992 tsunami highlights the need for notification of a tsunami as well as public outreach efforts.
One of the many lessons learned from the 1964 and 1992 tsunamis was that proper warning and evacuation truly saves lives. First, we need to ensure there are enough buoys to protect the California coast from tsunamis. Currently, only three out of the six buoys deployed in the Pacific Ocean are functional.
Second, coastal communities need adequate funding so that they can become tsunami ready. Since the time of the 1964 tsunami, Crescent City has made tremendous strides to protect its residents by implementing tsunami emergency plans, installing warning sirens, and creating a tsunami education program. As a result, Crescent City has been honored by NOAA as a TsunamiReady community.
However, much more is needed to make sure all of our coastal communities are as well prepared as Crescent City is today.
After consulting with the California Office of Emergency Services (OES), my staff has been informed that California is in dire need of more funding that will help map potential inundation zones, and that will help educate the public.
According to OES, only $88,000 in federal funding is given annually for tsunami evaluation and preparation in California’s 15 coastal communities, and only two are TsunamiReady by NOAA standards. Tsunami taskforces in California have said they need more money to erect warning signs on county beaches, plan evacuation routes, and conduct public outreach efforts.
Mr. Chairman, we must do more to ensure that our citizens living near the coast are well-educated and better prepared to deal with a tsunami, and our emergency officials have the necessary funding to achieve this goal.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Statement of Senator Maria Cantwell Commerce Committee Hearing on S. 50, the Tsunami Preparedness Act February 2, 2005
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you for holding this hearing and for championing this critical bill. Your leadership and foresight --along with that of Senator Inouye-- created the existing tsunami warning system, and I look forward to working with you to further upgrade and modernize this essential service.
Mr. Chairman, the loss of life and infrastructure incurred as a result of the recent tsunami in the Indian Ocean provides a jarring reminder of the need to evaluate the risk of tsunamis to our own coastal populations.
That’s why this well thought out bill, developed in cooperation with the Administration, is so important. I am pleased to be a cosponsor of it.
I recently visited the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, which provides research support for all aspects of the U.S. tsunami program. While I was greatly impressed with their work, I also learned that we can and must do more.
Whether it is developing more reliable monitoring buoys, or improving our nation’s vulnerability assessments, more resources are needed.
I also learned more about the massive Cascadia fault that lies off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and Northern California and the fact that it is similar in size and geologic character to the fault that produced the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami.
A major Cascadia earthquake -- the last which occurred in the year 1700 and led to a 30-foot high tsunami smashing into Washington’s coastline-- could happen at any time. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates there is a 10 to 14 percent chance of another major Cascadia quake within the next 50 years.
Since a Cascadia-generated tsunami would allow for only 10 to 20 minutes of warning, I am pleased that this legislation includes community-based tsunami hazard mitigation program and an acceleration of critical vulnerability assessments and inundation maps. This information is critical for coastal communities to plan for future tsunami events.
I’d also like to thank Senator Inouye and Stevens for accomodating my request and including language in this bill that requires an assessment of tsunami risks in vulnerable inland bodies of water. Earthquakes within the Puget Sound have historically produced significant tsunamis, which today would cause significant flooding along the waterfront of Seattle and other inner coastal communities.
So again, Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing. I fully support the Tsunami Preparedness Act and believe it is essential if we are to prevent the devastation caused by the Indian Ocean tsunami from one day becoming realty on our coasts as well.
Daniel K. InouyeSenator
Statement of U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye Hearing on U.S. Tsunami Warning System February 2, 2005I would like to join our Chairman in welcoming our distinguished panel of witnesses today as they testify on a catastrophe that has left the world in shock, and governments scrambling to react. We all saw the devastation--the incredible human suffering and the obliteration of entire communities.
The destruction hit everyone and everything in its path without regard to national or ethnic identity, level of economic development, or technological sophistication.
Our response as a global community must similarly cut across superficial distinctions among nations and peoples. Our response, however, must not be a disorderly surge of activity and investment dictated by emotions.
Rather, we must study carefully the nature of the threat of tsunami, assess our capacity for detecting and forecasting these natural disasters, and make a plan that both makes sense, and is sustainable over time.
Protecting human life and property from natural disaster requires:
· the ability to reliably detect and forecast; · the capacity to broadcast warnings in a timely and informative manner; and, · the ability to respond and evacuate safely.
Above all, however, it requires the willingness to invest resources to prepare for a threat that is largely unseen and unpredictable-until the last moment, when a monstrous wave actually strikes.
Ted Stevens and I worked together in 1994 to direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to develop a Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program.
We are pleased to report that this program has laid the foundation for tsunami preparedness in the Pacific.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has taken the lead in this effort with support from other federal partners, such as the U.S. Geological Survey, and the National Science Foundation.
We look forward to hearing reports and testimony from these agencies as they describe where their work has brought us today. The scope of the Indian Ocean tragedy illustrates the importance and necessity of our work over the past ten years, and with stark clarity, we can see that despite our best efforts, much remains to be done.
Now, as before, Senator Stevens and I have come together to lead the charge toward national and international tsunami preparedness by introducing our bill, S. 50, the Tsunami Preparedness Act, which many of our colleagues here in this room have chosen to cosponsor. I hope that today’s testimony will shed additional light on how we may further improve our bill and come to grips with national and global tsunami preparedness. In particular, I look forward to the testimony of Ms. Eileen Shea, an authority on risk management in the Pacific. Her report on how the Pacific community has come together to form a family-or “ohana”-in order to pool resources for disaster preparedness will be most informative.
I welcome her perspectives on how our risk management ohana can integrate tsunami preparedness into an overall portfolio of planning and preparation.
Witness Panel 1
The Honorable Bill FristSenate Majority LeaderU.S. Senate
The Honorable Mary LandrieuU.S. SenatorLouisiana
Senator Mary Landrieu - Statement on the Asia Tsunami Commerce Committee Hearing February 2, 2005Mr. Chairman, let me begin by thanking you for inviting me to testify today and by recognizing our new colleague, Senator David Vitter as a Member of this Committee. His willingness to tackle difficult and complex issues will no doubt continue the impressive work of former Committee Member Senator John Breaux in service to this nation and the people of Louisiana. I would like to briefly address three important points today: the need for an expanded Tsunami warning system, our need to invest in coastal communities, and the immediate and long term impact of this tragedy on children and families. Mr. Chairman, the destruction I witnessed on my trip to Sri Lanka with Senator Frist was, in some regards, beyond words. In an instant, thousands of people and structures on miles of coastline were eliminated, swallowed and washed away by a massive surge of sea water. The only warning that millions of people had was the ominous and awe inspiring retreat of the ocean’s waters, revealing hundreds of feet of sand and beach. Then, in a rush of water, the magnitude of this force wiped out 3,000 miles of shoreline and carried with it the homes and lives of hundreds of thousands of people. To give those in America a better understanding of the magnitude of destruction, it would be as if you took an eraser and erased anywhere from a football field length to a 4th of a mile inland along the U.S. coast from Galveston, Texas all the way to Bar Harbor, Maine. Traveling by helicopter with Senator Frist I was surprised to see that the majority of the palm trees had survived. They had just bent over with the wave and back up again as it receded. I think that says a lot about the way we should build coastal communities - like the palm trees that can weather these inevitable disasters. With adequate and improved warning, better planning, and more robust investments in the right kinds of infrastructure, our coastal communities here in American and around the world will continue to grow and thrive decade after decade. Above all these astonishing images of physical destruction, the most significant fact remains: 226,000 perished and 500,000 were injured. While the death toll is staggering, so is the disturbing realization that many along the coastline could have been saved!! With even minimal time involved, these people could have simply walked to safety. Experts say that a receding ocean may give people as much as five minutes warning to escape to high ground. Five minutes could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives, even the smallest of toddlers to the weakest of seniors. So, I am pleased to lend my support and my eye-witness accounts to The Tsunami Preparedness Act. This legislation will improve methods of detecting and warning coastal residents about Tsunamis, establish important mitigation programs, enhance our research on this issue, and assist our friends abroad. But warning is not enough. We must also invest and re-invest in our natural barriers and constantly and review our evacuation routes. This giant wave not only killed a quarter of a million people, it also obliterated the natural coastal barriers in the region. The United Nations Environmental Program estimates that the damage to the environment could total $675 million in loss of natural habitats and important ecosystem function. This number should not only concern environmentalists that seek the worthy goal of preserving nature’s wonders, it should also concern those whose safety and economic livelihood depend on these barriers being intact. Restoring the reefs, barrier islands, and shorelines of these areas will help in long-term disaster risk reduction. Without the barriers that act as nature’s own line of defense against flooding, storm surge, hurricanes and even tsunamis, human lives are at greater risk. Mr. Chairman, as the Senator from Louisiana, I know how vulnerable coastal communities are to the threats of mother nature. As do you. 122 million people or 53% of Americans live in coastal counties or parishes. The most common threat to these communities in the United States is hurricanes, salt water intrusion and rising sea-levels (SHOW CHART). Last year was one of the most active and destructive hurricane seasons in U.S. history. Four hurricanes, in rapid succession, ravaged the coast of Florida, Louisiana and the Gulf Coast region. While in this case there was adequate warning, the lack of adequate highways sent many scrambling into grid-locked traffic jams where they were just as vulnerable. I ask: what have done, if we warn people of danger but don’t help them escape it. I am committed to seeing that the Federal Government work to improve the evacuation procedures and infrastructure in these coastal area. The devastation that resulted from the Tsunami occurred in an instant by one huge wave, but the devastation that is the erosion of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands is caused by a thousand of smaller waves every day. Mr. Chairman, as your Committee address numerous issues related to our oceans during the 109th Congress, I look forward to working with you on the issue of securing in our coasts for the future. Lastly Mr. Chairman, I want to briefly address the destruction this tsunami caused to families. While our work here today and of this legislation will focus on how to warn of disasters in the future, we must also focus on what this disaster means to the future of those affected. Since returning from Sri Lanka, my efforts have been focused on encouraging world leaders to focus less on building orphanages and more on building families. The need for these children to be raised by families did not get washed away by the waves, if anything their need to be raised in a family is greater than ever. As I have said before, nations are not built on roads and railroads alone, they are built by families, strong united and protective of each other in the communities in which they live. Let us continue to focus our attention on rebuilding these families for the future.
Witness Panel 2
Dr. John Marburger IIIDirectorOffice of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President
Brigadier General John Kelly, U.S. Air Force (ret.)Deputy UndersecretaryNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Dr. Arden L. Bement Jr.DirectorNational Science Foundation
Good morning. Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Inouye, and members of the Committee, thank you very much for the opportunity to present testimony on the National Science Foundation’s role in providing greater science and research to understanding tsunami events. The events surrounding the December 26, 2004, Sumatra-Andaman Island earthquake and Indian Ocean tsunami constitute disasters for the natural, social, and constructed environments in the region. Because the National Science Foundation (NSF) has the mission to build the nation’s scientific and engineering knowledge capacity and capability, NSF and the communities we support have a responsibility to undertake relevant research in the context of the events. NSF has moved quickly to focus the U.S. research community to address the disaster, response, and relevant lessons for future disasters, building on the research related to these topics that we have funded in the past. Later in my testimony, I will detail the ways our previous research has contributed to the ability of the United States and others to understand and respond to the disaster, and information on the NSF’s role in supporting the U.S. research community’s immediate response to the tragedy. This disaster has revealed several areas in which understanding – as well as infrastructure – were insufficient to deal with the crisis, and where NSF’s research communities can bring basic knowledge and relevant infrastructure to bear. The U.S. communities include problem-focused, interdisciplinary research teams, often with international partners in mutually beneficial and sustainable collaborations. NSF is working with counterpart organizations in countries directly affected by the disaster, as well as other countries in the region, to improve communications, collaboration, and priority setting as the immediate and longer-term research efforts get underway. This disaster has raised awareness of and attention to the phenomena of earthquakes and tsunamis, and their predictability. NSF has long funded scientific and engineering research infrastructure aimed at detecting and understanding the impacts of these phenomena. Prominent examples include the real-time Global Seismographic Network (GSN), the data from which forged the critical core of the early warning of the December 26, 2004, earthquake. This Network, operated by the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, is funded in partnership by NSF and the United States Geological Survey, and is the primary international source of data for earthquake location and tsunami warning. We also fund research designed to support damage and loss prediction and avoidance for the United States and elsewhere, including earthquake and tsunami effects on buildings, bridges, and critical infrastructure systems, and estimates of economic consequences, human and societal impacts, and emergency response. For example, engineers and scientists at the Earthquake Engineering Research Centers and the Southern California Earthquake Center are working to establish the nature and attenuation of subduction-type earthquake ground shaking, and to develop probabilistic hazard assessments that can be applied to critical infrastructure design in areas threatened by earthquake and tsunami hazards. NSF has recently established the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), a major national infrastructure project to create a complete system of test facilities. The project is revolutionizing earthquake-engineering research. NSF-funded researchers create physical and computational simulations in order to study how earthquakes and tsunamis affect buildings, bridges, ports, and other critical infrastructure. The NEES Tsunami Wave Basin at Oregon State University is the world’s most comprehensive facility for studying tsunamis and storm waves. These globally historic earthquake and tsunami events have heightened awareness in the engineering and science research communities of the huge responsibilities to create new knowledge about our human and organizational environments, natural biologic systems, constructed environments, and about our vulnerabilities in the face of damaging forces. It is important that the work includes all aspects of environmental damage, mitigation, response, and recovery. The National Science Foundation Research Portfolio The tremendous loss of lives and destruction of the natural and built environments resulting from the December 26 events brought to the forefront questions about disaster preparation, mitigation, response, and recovery. NSF’s research investments have developed a knowledge and human resource base over broad areas relevant to these questions. Current and past pertinent research activities include: Earthquakes: The Sumatra earthquake occurred along a subduction zone where tectonic plates collide. These subduction quakes are the largest and most destructive type of earthquake, and cause most of the world’s tsunamis. NSF researchers have been making exciting advancements in subduction zone research including new techniques and facilities that define the structure, chemistry and dynamics of active subduction zones. A prime example is the findings about the Cascadia subduction zone in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. This fault structure generated a 9.0Mw earthquake on January 26, 1700, with a tsunami that destroyed whole forests on the largely uninhabited Oregon coast, toppled buildings on Vancouver Island, and killed coastal dwellers in Japan. Tsunami Generation: NSF research includes field studies using research vessels and other platforms and facilities, including the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program’s (IODP) drill ship the Joides Resolution. NSF research aims to understand the processes by which earthquakes, large slumps, and other landslips generate tsunami waves, and to model how tsunamis interact with the shore zone, including the nature of present and past sediment deposits left by tsunamis. Rapid Response Reconnaissance: NSF supports the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) and its Learning from Earthquakes (LFE) project that trains and deploys rapid-response teams of civil engineers, geoengineers, and social scientists to earthquakes that occur around the world. These teams identify information resources, research needs, and provide ground truthing for remotely sensed observations. NSF also funds the Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder, which supports rapid-response research by social science researchers, and leads the world as a clearinghouse for multidisciplinary and social science studies of hazards and disasters. Remote Sensing: Remote-sensing technologies quantify damage over large geographic areas and provide reconnaissance information where access to impacted areas is difficult. For the first time, high-resolutions sensors (Quickbird and Ikonos), moderate-resolution sensors (SPOT, LandSat, and IRS), and low-resolution sensors (MODIS, Aster) are recording the Indian Ocean events in near real-time. With this information it will be possible to identify and quantify damage and impacts to critical infrastructure systems (including electric power systems, water supply, sewage, transportation, safe shelter buildings, ports, and harbors). Such assessments can then be verified by on-the-ground inspections. Physical and Computational Simulation: Tsunami disasters are dominated by coastal damage and loss of life. Scientists and engineers need to predict site-specific wave run-up patterns and determine tsunami-induced forces and scour effects to enable better design of waterfront structures and help guide decision-making processes including vulnerability assessment. NSF research has developed scenario simulations for tsunami hazard mitigation, including tsunami generation, hydrodynamics, warning transmission, evacuation, human behavior, and social and environmental impacts. The NEES Tsunami Wave Basin is being used to construct and test large-scale, realistic models of infrastructure – such as shorelines, underwater pipelines, port facilities, and coastal communities. Sensor Networks: NSF research investigates new uses for and new kinds of sensors and networks for health monitoring and damage assessment of the civil infrastructure, both physical and cyber. Flexible and scalable software architectures and frameworks are being developed to integrate real-time heterogeneous sensor data, database and archiving systems, computer vision, data analysis and interpretation, numerical simulation of complex structural systems, visualization, probabilistic risk analysis, and rational statistical decision making procedures. NSF has also funded research on socio-technical arrangements for bringing information to policymakers. Risk Assessment: Risk assessment and decisions about preparing for risks are immediately relevant topics that NSF-funded scientists have researched in depth. Basic science and engineering research provides the in-depth understanding needed to design effective detection, warning, mitigation, response, and recovery programs. Research on risk communication and decision-making regarding low-probability, high-consequence events is being applied to many types of disasters. Key for application of engineering knowledge is to establish the basis for performance-based design to be applied to all critical infrastructure systems and facilities of the constructed environment. Warning Systems and Evacuation: NSF has supported extensive and long-term research on warning systems and evacuation, with clear implications for managing tsunami events. NSF research includes basic work on integrated warning systems for rapid-onset extreme events, including detection, modeling, and communications technologies, and also the social and organizational components needed for effective warnings: societal and community public education and preparedness, appropriate authorities and resources for organizational and governmental entities responsible for warning and evacuation processes, appropriate messages and means of dissemination to at-risk populations, and the management and maintenance of warning systems over time. One specific focus for research has been sensor networks that must "funnel" a sudden impulse of data that is generated due to an anomalous event such as an earthquake, terrorist attack, flood, or fire. The objective is to understand how to design sensor networks to adequately handle these impulses of data and to feed the information into public warning systems. Behavioral Responses: Emotional and cognitive responses to stress as well as vulnerability and resiliency in the face of threat and terror are the focus on current research in social psychology. Research in geography and regional science examines patterns of settlement that lead to social vulnerability and the differential impact of hazards, including earthquake hazards, on different groups. An earlier study exploring the restoration of assumptions of safety and control following the 2001 terror attacks has direct implications for understanding the restoration of human wellbeing following these devastating events. Human and Socio-technological Response: Behavioral and social science research funded by NSF provides insights about how people respond to disasters and identifies the short- and long-term effects. Scientists have documented and analyzed social phenomena in the immediate wake of disasters, such as altruism, volunteerism, convergence, and improvisation. These phenomena vary by country and culture. NSF researchers are developing distributed, reliable, and secure information systems that can evolve and adapt to radical changes in their environment. Such systems would deliver critically important services for emergency communication and management through networked information services and up-to-date sensor data over ad-hoc flexible, fault-tolerant networks that adapt to the people and organizations that need them. Such technology facilitates access to the right information, for the right individuals and organizations, at the right time. This is necessary to provide security, to serve our dynamic virtual response organizations, and to support the changing social and cultural aspects of information-sharing among organizations and individuals. Emergency Response Research: The complex problems associated with earthquake and tsunami hazard mitigation and response strategies necessitate interdisciplinary and international research efforts, including modeling and computational simulation, large-scale laboratory modeling, geographical information and communication systems, and social sciences and planning. NSF supports research on social, political, and managerial aspects of emergency response activities and aid provision, including need-based distribution of assistance within diverse societies. Ecology: Research on the ecology of infectious disease contributes to understanding the dynamics of epidemics and change, particularly in the context of ecological changes such as those following natural disasters. Disturbance ecology examines how biological populations, communities and ecosystems respond to extreme natural and human events, including hurricanes and tsunamis. Long-term ecological research is critical to understanding the base line conditions, without which the changes resulting from catastrophic events such as earthquakes and tsunamis cannot be understood. Microbial Genome Sequencing: NSF funded research on microbial genome sequencing provides key information that enables identification and understanding of the life functions and ecology of microbes that play critical roles in the environment, agriculture, food and water safety, and may cause disease in humans, animals, and plants. Genome sequence information can be utilized to develop tools to detect disease-causing organisms and develop countermeasures such as antimicrobial chemicals and vaccines. Education and Human Resources: NSF has dozens of active projects funded that target or include Earth science education and understanding of natural hazards. For example, the NSF National Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education (SMETE) Digital Library program is supporting a multi-year project to develop a data-oriented digital library collection on education in plate tectonics, the central Earth science paradigm governing earthquakes and resultant tsunamis. Such a collection works to "bridge the gap" between science data archives and libraries, and improves access to the historic and modern marine geological and geophysical data. Further, the project is enhancing the professional development of teachers through interactions with a local school district and with teachers nationwide. Also, NSF has supported the incorporation of advanced technologies in K-12 learning materials in Earth science, including visualizations and working with images from space, real-time data, and experimentation with models and simulations (techniques used in earthquake events to generate model predictions of tsunamis). This work was utilized to update and improve one of the most widely used high-school Earth science textbooks. NSF Investments in Research Infrastructure The natural disaster raised awareness of and attention to the phenomena of earthquakes and tsunamis, and their predictability. NSF has long funded scientific and engineering research infrastructure aimed at detecting and understanding the impacts of these phenomena. Prominent examples include: · IRIS, GSN – Real-time Global Seismographic Network (GSN) data forged the critical core of the early warning of the December 26, 2004, Sumatran Earthquake. The GSN, operated by IRIS (Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology) and funded in partnership by NSF and the United States Geological Survey, is the primary international source of data for earthquake location and tsunami warning. · Engineers and scientists at the Earthquake Engineering Research Centers (EERCs) and the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC at the University of Southern California) are working to establish the nature and attenuation of subduction-type earthquake ground shaking, and to develop probabilistic hazard maps and shaking levels due to subduction earthquakes in all oceans. This information will support damage prediction for the U.S. and elsewhere, including earthquake and tsunami effects on buildings, bridges and other lifelines, and estimates of economic, safety, and emergency response consequences. · NSF has completed construction of the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), a major national infrastructure project to create a complete system of test facilities that is revolutionizing earthquake engineering research. NSF-funded researchers create physical and numerical simulations in order to study how earthquakes and tsunamis affect buildings, bridges, ports, and other critical infrastructure. The NEES Tsunami Wave Basin at Oregon State University is the world’s most comprehensive facility for studying tsunamis and storm waves. The National Science Foundation’s Immediate Response For more than three decades, NSF has supported quick-response disaster studies that dispatch scientists and engineers to the aftermath of crises ranging from hurricanes and earthquakes to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Researchers were in the field within days after the South Asian tsunami to gather critical data before it was lost to nature and reconstruction. The ephemeral information, including assessments of physical damage to both the built and natural environments, as well as social science research that will help emergency teams and local leaders better direct future rescue efforts, is vital for scientists and engineers to understand and prepare for future disasters. A variety of mechanisms are available to support quick-response research, including the following: 1) Small Grants for Exploratory Research (SGER), which may be awarded in order to gather data that is likely to disappear over time after the impact of disasters; 2) supplements to existing awards to fund data collection; 3) specific continuing grants that support quick-response field reconnaissance and research across a variety of disciplines; and 4) flexibility inherent in existing awards that allows for the support of post-disaster investigations. NSF has already utilized all of these types of support in responding to the December 26, 2004, earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Several programs and projects have established funding to send rapid response teams to disaster sites: NSF Earthquake Engineering Research Centers are undertaking work on damage assessment. The Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER) sent a team of researchers to Thailand in partnership with the Asian Institute of Technology and the Earthquake Disaster Mitigation Research Center from Japan. Shubharoop Ghosh from ImageCat will join a team led by Prof. Yamazaki of Chiba University. The team is examining impacts of the earthquake and tsunami upon buildings and critical infrastructure. Research is also being supported by the earthquake centers on validating the potential of remote sensing data to accurately assess damage and impacts. Multidisciplinary research has been undertaken through the NSF-funded Learning From Earthquakes (LFE) Program that is managed by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), a non-profit institution in Oakland, California. LFE is sending two teams to Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Maldive Islands, and India. The teams will gather data on estimated wave heights, extent of inundation, geological scouring, and other perishable information related to the physical aspects of tsunamis. They will coordinate their work with teams from Japan and Australia. In addition, other EERI activities will collect data. Jose Borrero, University of Southern California, was one of the first U.S. researchers to gain access to one of the hardest-hit area of Sumatra. A 13-member team of engineers led by EERI member Sudhir Jain, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, is investigating the structural damage and impacts on port facilities along the eastern coast of India, as well as on the Adaman and Nicobar Islands. These initial EERI teams include geotechnical, structural, and coastal engineers; geologists; geophysicists; and experts in fluid mechanics. In subsequent efforts, a joint EERI/ASCE team of engineers will travel to the area along with social scientists from the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware. They will focus on damage to lifelines, including highways, bridges, ports and harbors, water delivery systems, sewage facilities, and other utilities. They will also begin to document the resulting impacts on communities and the entire region. These impacts include search and rescue operations, medical response, multinational relief, organizational response, effects on children and families, shelter and housing, and social and economic impacts. Members of EERI and other earthquake engineering experts who reside in the affected countries will also contribute the results of their independent investigations. These reports will be compiled on the EERI website, published by EERI as part of the LFE program, and made available internationally. NSF’s Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) is a major source of information about tsunamis. The O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory at Oregon State University, home to the largest tsunami research facility in the world, was sought out as a source of answers to the pressing questions in the wake of the disaster. The lab hosted local news teams as well as CNN, NBC's "Today Show," the Discovery Channel, and Spiegel TV from Germany. The Directorate for Geosciences is offering SGERs and award supplements to study physical processes in the earthquake-tsunami zone. For example, NSF-funded investigators from the California Institute of Technology who were already studying uplift or subsidence of atolls in the earthquake zone returned to Sumatra immediately after the event to measure earthquake-related vertical displacements. Additionally, scientists from the University of California-San Diego plan to resurvey a network of approximately fifty geodetic monuments in North Sumatra, the Mentawai Islands, and Banda Aceh to determine coseismic and postseismic deformation caused by the Sumatra earthquake. These new data will provide critical geodetic constraints for the seismographic inversion of the earthquake source to constrain models of the subsequent devastating tsunamis and to contribute to the study of the great earthquake cycle in that region. The NSF-funded geodetic consortium UNAVCO Inc. is coordinating efforts by the scientific community to measure the post-earthquake distortion in the region of the earthquake. The NSF-funded seismology consortium IRIS (Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology) is leading efforts to develop real-time, finite-fault modeling techniques so that information on the actual characterization of the earthquake source can be updated continuously as real-time seismic data are received. The oceanographic communities are actively mapping the earthquake rupture zone, studying aftershock events, and venting of natural fluids using ocean bottom seismometers, ships, remotely operated vehicles, and potentially autonomous undersea vehicles. In addition, the NSF’s Division of Ocean Sciences will sponsor a series of free, on-line workshops for K-12 teachers that will provide them with lesson plans, teaching materials, and access to scientists so that they can present the latest scientific tsunami information to their students. These workshops will reach several thousand teachers this month alone, with additional workshops possible dependent upon demand. A major challenge for these oceanographic studies is gaining permission from the Indonesian government to conduct research in its territorial waters. The Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering will be offering SGERs and award supplements to extend projects on sensor networks for damage identification, information about the location of survivors, emergency response infrastructure technology, and the ability of organizations to respond to man-made and natural disasters. The San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California, San Diego has offered computational and data integration and data backup resources to local universities, facilities, or government agencies that might need them. The Human and Social Dynamics (HSD) priority area has allocated $1 million to support SGERs for multidisciplinary research, including such issues as warning systems, disaster epidemiology, crisis decision-making, emergency response, and short-term and long-term recovery and mitigation. These awards will be established by the end of February 2005. Additional funding will be available from the NEES program to archive data collected under these SGERs in the central data repository operated by NEES Consortium, Inc. The Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences has also made special funds available for SGERs pertinent to learning from this event. Conclusion Mr. Chairman, as you well know NSF has as its mission the promotion of the progress of science, the advancement of the national health, prosperity and welfare, and the securing of the national defense. Since science is truly global in nature, NSF engages in these activities in collaboration with international partners. As such, NSF will continue to respond to disasters such as the earthquake and tsunami events in partnership with others in the global science and engineering communities. The South Asian tsunami disaster is representative of an entire class of catastrophic disasters: events that are low probability yet have high consequences. With the right information, communities and nations can characterize such risks and determine how to allocate resources for detection, warning, and preparedness. Research into decision-making provides insights and tools for characterizing such risks and for addressing future questions about allocating resources to detection and warning. NSF, in cooperation with the world research community, including the scientists, engineers, and students from the affected countries, will continue to generate new knowledge about the natural phenomena of these events, the design of better coastal structures, the development of early warning and response systems that can mitigate loss of life, and recovery from such disasters. These new bodies of knowledge need to be transferable to all regions of the world that can benefit from these efforts. With NSF support, scientists will continue to study societal vulnerability to natural hazards with a view to building resilience through increased knowledge and preparedness, improved natural resource management, and other policy strategies so that we may help stem the loss of life and property in future events. Mr. Chairman, thank you again for this opportunity to testify on a topic of great importance to the world community. I hope that I have conveyed the serious approach that NSF has taken to help generate new knowledge about the natural phenomena that lead to tsunami events, the design of safer coastal structures, the development of early warning and response systems, and effective steps for disaster recovery. I would be pleased to answer any questions you might have.
Dr. Charles GroatDirectorU.S. Geological Survey
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, thank you for this opportunity to discuss the recent tragedy in South Asia and what can be done to reduce the threat that tsunamis and earthquakes pose to coastal communities in the United States and around the globe. Events such as this serve as a tragic reminder of our vulnerability to natural hazards. While the United States is not as vulnerable to tsunamis as other regions of the world, we do face significant risk. On December 29, the President asked the Departments of Interior and Commerce to determine whether our systems are adequately prepared for a tsunami on our coasts. As a result, the Administration announced its commitment to implement an improved domestic tsunami detection and warning system. As part of the President’s plan, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will strengthen its ability to detect global earthquakes both through improvements in the Global Seismographic Network (GSN), which we support jointly with the National Science Foundation (NSF), and through around-the-clock analysis of earthquake events. The changes that are proposed for USGS clearly have a dual purpose, improving our capacity to respond to earthquakes as well as supporting the tsunami warning program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In addition to earthquake monitoring and reporting, the USGS conducts a number of activities aimed at improving tsunami hazard assessments, education, and warnings, including geologic investigations into the history of and potential for tsunami occurrence, coastal and marine mapping, and modeling tsunami generation. Although most tsunamis are caused by earthquakes, they can also be caused by volcanic eruptions, submarine landslides, and onshore landslides that cause large volumes of rock to fall into the water. All of these tsunami-generating hazards can impact the United States. Consequently, a broad range of USGS work in earthquake, volcano and landslide hazards, and coastal and marine geology, contribute to better understanding of tsunami impacts and occurrences. Additionally, USGS is playing a role in relief efforts for nations impacted by the December 26 disaster by providing relief organizations worldwide with pre- and post-tsunami satellite images and image-derived products that incorporate information on population density, elevation, and other relevant topics. These images and products are being used by relief organizations to determine where relief efforts are most critical and how best to carry out those relief operations. In our efforts to assist and improve relief efforts, we work closely with partners at NOAA, the U.S. Agency for International Development, other federal agencies, and in academia. For example, USGS scientists are part of international teams conducting post-tsunami investigations in Sri Lanka and Indonesia with the goal of applying the knowledge developed to other vulnerable areas in the United States and around the globe. USGS is also working with NOAA and other domestic and global partners through the Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS) and other mechanisms. Through GEOSS, improved monitoring capabilities must be firmly linked into all-hazards warning systems and, the most important link in the chain, public education and mitigation programs. As we move forward, we must bear in mind that this was an earthquake disaster as well as a tsunami disaster, and we must learn from both. This is not just a scientific endeavor; it is a matter of public safety. Earthquake and Tsunami of December 26, 2004 This was the second year in a row in which a deadly earthquake occurred near the end of the year. In 2003, a magnitude 6.6 quake struck Iran's ancient city of Bam, killing over 30,000 people. In 2004, the deadly quake was a magnitude 9 earthquake that initiated 20 miles below the seafloor off the western coast of Sumatra, the fourth largest earthquake to strike the planet since 1900 and the largest since a magnitude 9.2 earthquake struck Alaska in 1964. The earthquake and resulting tsunami killed more than 150,000 people around the Indian Ocean, two-thirds of them in northern Sumatra, whose inhabitants experienced not only the severe shaking from the earthquake but also the tsunami's full force. As with other giant earthquakes, this one took place along a subduction zone, where one of the tectonic plates that make up the Earth’s rigid outer layer is being thrust beneath another (see Figure 1). The Sunda trench is the seafloor expression of such a plate boundary where the Indian plate is thrusting under the overriding Burma plate. The size of an earthquake is directly related to the area of the fault that is ruptured. This rupture propagated northward along the plate boundary fault for over 750 miles beneath the Nicobar and Andaman Islands almost to Burma with a width of over 100 miles and slip along the fault averaging several tens of feet. It is difficult to comprehend the scope of a magnitude 9 earthquake. When we hear the term earthquake magnitude, we think of the Richter scale, which was the first of several scales developed to measure the earthquake size from the seismic waves they generate. These scales are logarithmic such that each whole number represents an order of magnitude larger in the seismic waves generated. So a magnitude 7 earthquake is 10 times larger than a magnitude 6 and 100 times larger than a magnitude 5. However, the amount of energy released goes up much faster. This magnitude 9 earthquake released 32 times more energy than a magnitude 8 earthquake and 1000 times more energy than a magnitude 7 earthquake such as the one that struck the San Francisco Bay area in 1989. The energy released by the Sumatra earthquake is roughly equal to that released by all the earthquakes, of every size, everywhere in the world since the mid-1990s. It’s important to remember that our own coasts, Alaska in 1964 and the Pacific Northwest in 1700, were the site of earthquakes as large as the Sumatra earthquake. A great deal of that energy was transferred to the Indian Ocean’s waters and ultimately to its surrounding shores. Along the length of the fault rupture, the seafloor was jolted upward by as much as 15 feet, lifting trillions of gallons of sea water – a volume more than 30 times that of the Great Salt Lake - and generating the tsunami that swept both east, inundating the coast of Sumatra, Thailand and Burma, and west, crossing the open ocean at hundreds of miles per hour on its way to the coasts of India, Sri Lanka, and eventually eastern Africa. Tsunamis strike the Indian Ocean less frequently than the Pacific Ocean, which is ringed by subduction zones, but there have been at least a half dozen Indian Ocean tsunamis caused by earthquakes in the past 200 years. What had been the deadliest tsunami in the region was not caused by an earthquake but by the explosion of Krakatau volcano in 1883. The tsunami generated by the collapse of that volcano killed 36,000 people on Java, Sumatra and neighboring islands. It is important to emphasize that not all large subsea earthquakes generate tsunamis. For example, four days before the Sumatra earthquake, a magnitude 8.1 earthquake struck the seafloor south of New Zealand near the Macquarie Islands. Instead of generating a thrusting motion as in a subduction zone, this earthquake occurred on a strike-slip fault, moving side to side like the San Andreas Fault, a motion much less efficient at creating a tsunami. No tsunami was generated. Even earthquakes generated in subduction zones may not produce tsunami, depending on whether the fault rupture reaches the seafloor, the amount of displacement on the fault and other factors. One of the key roles of a tsunami detection system is to avoid false warnings that cause costly and unnecessary evacuations that can undermine people’s willingness to heed warnings in the future. In addition to buoys and tide gauges, seismic data may be able to provide an additional check, and research in this area could improve our ability to recognize tsunami-causing events in minutes. U.S. earthquake monitoring networks and their role in tsunami warning center operations To monitor earthquakes in the United States, the USGS has begun to install and operate the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS), which was established by the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP) in 2000 (P.L. 106-503). The system includes a 63-station ANSS Backbone Network, which is capable of locating most felt earthquakes nationwide and provides data in near-real-time to USGS. Extending our capability in high-hazard areas of the country are 17 regional seismic networks that provide detailed coverage and rapid response, local expertise in event analysis and interpretation, and data. Our ANSS partnerships –which include universities, state government agencies and NSF– greatly leverage USGS seismic monitoring capabilities. The key products of the system are rapid and accurate earthquake locations and magnitudes, delivered directly to users for emergency response. In several of the highest-risk urban areas in the United States, dense arrays of seismic sensors designed to record strong ground motion have been deployed under ANSS. These areas include the Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Anchorage and Salt Lake City metropolitan regions. When triggered by an earthquake, data from these sensors are automatically processed into detailed maps of ground shaking (“ShakeMaps”), which in turn feed loss estimation and emergency response. Also, because earthquake losses are closely tied to the vulnerability of buildings and other structures, USGS monitors earthquake shaking in structures in support of engineering research, performance-based design, and rapid post-earthquake damage evaluations. If placed in certain critical facilities, these sensors can contribute to critical post-earthquake response decisions. USGS has set a minimum performance goal of determining automated locations and seismic magnitudes within 4 minutes or less in the U.S. This is exceeded in many ANSS regions; for example, the magnitude 6.5 San Simeon, California, earthquake of December, 2003, was automatically located within 30 seconds. Earthquake data, including locations, magnitudes, other characterizations and, where requested, the actual seismograms, are automatically transmitted from USGS and regional centers to federal response departments and agencies such as the NOAA tsunami warning centers, the Department of Homeland Security, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), State governments, local emergency managers, utility operators, several private sector entities, and the public and media. USGS does not currently have 24 x 7 earthquake analysis, but analysts are on-call in the event of a large earthquake worldwide. The Administration has recently proposed 24 x 7 operations as a key needed improvement in response to the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster. To monitor seismic events worldwide, the Global Seismographic Network (GSN) maintains a constellation of 128 globally distributed, modern seismic sensors. USGS operates about two-thirds of this network, and the University of California, San Diego, operates the other third with NSF support. NSF also funds the IRIS (Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology) Consortium to handle data management and long-term archiving. Two GSN stations were the first to detect the December 26, 2004, Sumatra earthquake, and automated analysis of these data generated the “alerts” of strong recorded amplitudes sent to NOAA and USGS. At the present time, about 80% of GSN stations transmit real-time data that can be used for rapid earthquake analysis and tsunami warning. The Administration is requesting funding to extend the GSN’s real-time data communications, as well as to improve station uptime through more frequent maintenance. These changes will result in improved tsunami warning in the United States and globally. Through the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program, the USGS, NOAA, FEMA, and five western States (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington) have worked to enhance the quality and quantity of seismic data provided to the NOAA tsunami warning centers and how this data is used at the State and local level. This program has funded USGS to upgrade seismic equipment for regional seismic networks in northern California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii. The seismic data recorded by the USGS nationally and globally are relayed to the NOAA tsunami warning centers. USGS and NOAA also exchange earthquake locations and magnitude estimates, with USGS providing the final authoritative magnitudes of events. USGS is also working with emergency managers in the Pacific Northwest to support public warning systems in coastal communities there. Improving earthquake monitoring in the United States —with consequent improvements to public safety and the reduction of earthquake losses— can be achieved through the modernization and expansion of the ANSS, including expansion of seismic sensor networks nationwide, the upgrading of the associated data processing and analysis facilities, and the development of new earthquake products. Funding over the past three years has focused on installation of over 500 new seismic sensors in high-risk urban areas. The FY05 appropriation for ANSS is $5.12 million. The President’s proposed increase in funding to USGS in response to the tsunami disaster would allow USGS to make critically needed improvements to performance in one key element of ANSS, providing 24 x 7 operations capacity and completing software and hardware upgrades to speed processing times. These improvements will enhance USGS support of NOAA’s tsunami warning responsibility. The threat from tsunamis and great earthquakes in the Pacific The concentration of U.S. tsunami warning efforts in the Pacific reflects the greater frequency of destructive tsunami in that ocean. Approximately 85% of the world’s tsunamis occur in the Pacific. This is due to many subduction zones ringing the Pacific basin -- the source of submarine earthquakes of large enough magnitude (greater than ~7) to produce tsunami. While Hawaii’s position in the middle of the Pacific makes it uniquely vulnerable to ocean-wide tsunami, this chain of volcanic islands also faces a hazard from locally generated tsunami due to local earthquakes or submarine landslides. In 1975, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake just offshore the island of Hawaii caused a tsunami that killed 2 with maximum runup height (elevation reached by tsunami as they move inland from the shoreline) of 47 feet. U.S. Insular Areas in the Pacific also face a threat both from ocean-wide tsunami as well as ones generated locally. The volcano Anatahan in the Northern Marianas, which began actively erupting on January 5, 2005, serves as a reminder that inhabitants and U.S. military interests in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the Territory of Guam are threatened by nine islands with active volcanoes that have the potential to generate hazardous ash plumes as well as tsunamis through eruption-induced collapse. The risks from tsunamis to the inhabited islands are poorly understood, and tsunami inundation modeling is needed to assess the threat represented by such an event. Our knowledge of what may be the greatest risk to the United States does not come from our tsunami experiences of the last half century, but rather to the detective work of USGS and other scientists in the Pacific Northwest. In contrast to the San Andreas Fault, where the Pacific and North American plates are sliding past one another, a subduction zone known as Cascadia lies offshore further north, its size nearly identical to that of the rupture zone of the Sumatra earthquake (see Figure 2). On January 26, 1700, the Cascadia subduction zone broke in a great earthquake, probably from northernmost California to the middle of Vancouver Island. Along the Pacific coast in Oregon, Washington, California, and British Columbia, this huge event of the same general size of the Sumatra earthquake, caused coastal marshes to suddenly drop down several feet. This change in land elevation was recorded by the vegetation living in and around the coastal marshes. For example, along the Copalis River in Washington State, Western Red Cedar trees that have lifespans of over 1000 years were suddenly submerged in salt water. Over the next few months, those trees died. By comparing tree rings of the still standing dead trees with nearby trees that were not submerged, paleoseismologists established that the trees were killed during the winter of 1699-1700. Digging through river bank deposits along the Copalis and other rivers in Cascadia, paleoseismologists found a pervasive, black sand sheet left by the tsunami. Because the sands deposited by the tsunami are transported by the tsunami waves, paleoseismologists can combine the location of tsunami sands with the change in marsh elevation to get an approximate idea of the length of the rupture for the 1700 earthquake. Tsunami sands have been found from Vancouver Island to Humboldt Bay in California. Once paleoseismologists found evidence of the 1700 event, they combed written records in Japan to see if evidence existed of an unknown tsunami wave. Several villages recorded damage in Japan on January 27, 1700, from a wave that people living along the coast could not associate with strong ground shaking. The coast of Japan had been hit, not unlike Sri Lanka and Somalia, by a distant tsunami, but this tsunami came from the west coast of North America. By modeling the travel time across the Pacific, paleoseismologists were able to establish the exact date of the last Cascadia subduction zone event. Based on estimates of the return interval, USGS scientists and others have estimated that there is a 10-14 percent chance of a repeat of the Cascadia magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami event in the next 50 years. Since that initial discovery in the early 1980s, many of the elements of the seismic systems for the Pacific Northwest described above have been put in place along with improved building codes to address the higher expected ground shaking and increased public education through the efforts of state and local emergency managers. The December 26, 2004, earthquake and tsunami together cause us to focus on the similar threat from the Cascadia subduction zone that faces the Pacific Northwest as well as our long Alaskan coastline. Here I cannot emphasize enough the critical role played by our partners in State and local government, especially the state emergency managers. Largely through the efforts of the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program partnership, much has been accomplished. Seismic systems have been improved, allowing NOAA’s West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center to issue warnings within minutes of a significant offshore earthquake. Inundation maps, graphic representations of estimates of how far inland future tsunami waves are likely to reach, are available for most major communities in northern California, Oregon, and Washington. Working with FEMA, public education has been stressed, and emergency managers have begun installing all-hazard warning systems. USGS is co-funding a $540,000 pilot project in Seaside, Oregon with FEMA and NOAA to develop risk identification products that will help communities understand their actual level of risk from tsunami in a way that could be conveyed on existing flood maps. The goal of the project is to develop techniques that can be used to determine the probability and magnitude of tsunami in other communities along the west coast of the United States. Tsunami threats in the Atlantic With respect to tsunami hazard risk to the U.S. East coast, it should be noted that subduction zones are scarce in the Atlantic Ocean. But the Atlantic Ocean is not immune to tsunami. A tsunami following the great 1755 Lisbon earthquake, generated by collision of the African and Eurasian tectonic plates, devastated coasts of Portugal and Morocco, reached the British Isles, and crested as much as 20 feet high in the Caribbean. In 1929, the magnitude 7.2 Grand Banks earthquake triggered a submarine landslide and tsunami that struck Newfoundland’s sparsely settled coast, where it killed 27 people with waves as high as 20 feet. An event like this, involving a submarine landslide, may be the most likely scenario for the Atlantic coast. Scars of past large submarine landslides abound on the continental slope off the U.S. Atlantic coast. As in the 1929 Grand Banks event, some of the slides probably resulted from large earthquakes. If earthquakes are the primary initiator of the observed landslide features, the hazard to the Atlantic coast is limited as large earthquakes rarely occur in the vicinity of the U.S. and Canada Atlantic coast—perhaps once a century, on average (Boston area, 1755; Charleston, 1866; Newfoundland, 1929). Additionally, this type of tsunami would affect a much smaller geographical area than one generated by a subduction zone, and its flooding effect and inundation distance would be limited. Much work is needed, however, to more fully understand the triggering of submarine landslides and the extent of that threat in the Atlantic. Another tsunami scenario for the Atlantic coast that has been widely publicized is a landslide involving collapse of part of the Cumbre Vieja volcano in the Canary Islands into the sea. While this collapse would be dramatic and might indeed induce a transatlantic tsunami, such a collapse may occur only once every hundred thousand years. Furthermore, unlike the West Coast with the abundant record of past ocean-wide tsunami deposits, no such regionally extensive deposits have been found to date along the Atlantic coast. Tsunami threats in the Caribbean The Caribbean is subject to a broad range of geologic processes that have the potential to generate tsunami. Indeed, the Caribbean tectonic plate has almost all of the tsunami-generating sources within a small geographical area. Subduction zone earthquakes of the type that generated the Indian Ocean tsunami are found along the Lesser Antilles and the Hispaniola and Puerto Rico trenches. Other moderately large earthquakes due to more local tectonic activity take place probably once a century, such as in Mona Passage (1918 tsunami) and in the Virgin Islands basin (1867 tsunami). Moderate earthquakes occur that may trigger undersea landslides and thus generate tsunami. An active underwater volcano (Kick’em Jenny near Grenada) where sea floor maps show previous episodes of flank collapse also poses a tsunami hazard. Above-water volcanic activity occurs, wherein the Lesser Antilles periodically generate landslides that enter the sea to cause tsunami. And finally, the possibility exists of tele-tsunami from the African-Eurasian plate boundary, such as the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755 described above. In 1867, an 18-foot high tsunami wave entered St. Thomas’ Charlotte Amalie at the same time that a 27-foot wave entered St. Croix’s Christiansted Harbor. Were that to occur again today, the 10-fold increase in population density, the cruise ships, petroleum carriers, harbor infrastructure, hotels and beach goers, nearby power plants, petrochemical complexes, marinas, condominiums, and schools, would all be at risk. On October 11, 1918, the island of Puerto Rico was struck by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake, centered approximately 15 kilometers off the island’s northwestern coast, in the Mona Passage. In addition to causing widespread destruction across Puerto Rico, the quake generated a medium sized tsunami that produced runup as high as 18 feet along the western coast of the island and killed 40 people, in addition to the 76 people killed by the earthquake. More than 1,600 people were reportedly killed along the northern coast of the Dominican Republic in 1946 by a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 8.1 earthquake. In contrast to the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico has low tsunami risk. The region is seismically quiet and protected from tsunami generated in either the Atlantic or the Caribbean by Florida, Cuba, and broad continental shelves. Although there have been hurricane-generated subsea landslides as recently as this fall, there is no evidence that they have generated significant tsunami. Lessons learned: What the United States can do to better prepare itself and the world Natural hazard events such as the one that struck Sumatra and the countries around the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004, are geologically inevitable, but their consequences are not. The tsunami is a potent reminder that while the nations surrounding the Pacific Ocean face the highest tsunami hazard, countries around other ocean basins lacking basic tsunami warning systems and mitigation strategies face considerable risk. Reducing that risk requires a broad, comprehensive system including rapid global earthquake and tsunami detection systems, transmission of warnings in standardized formats to emergency officials who already know which coastal areas are vulnerable through inundation mapping and tsunami hazard assessment, and broadcast capabilities to reach a public already educated in the dangers and how to respond. For tsunami crossing an ocean basin, an adequate system of earthquake sensors, Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis (DART) buoys, and tide gauges should allow for timely warnings if the rest of the system is in place. For tsunami generated near the coastline, time is considerably more critical. For tsunami warnings to be effective, they must be generated and transmitted to the affected coastline within a few minutes of detection, local emergency responders must be prepared, the population must be informed, and the entire system must be executed without delay. The Sumatra earthquake and its devastating effects will encourage us to continue forward on the comprehensive NEHRP approach to earthquake loss reduction. USGS is committed to do so in partnership with FEMA, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and NSF to translate research into results through such initiatives as ANSS, the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation, the plan to accelerate the use of new earthquake risk mitigation technologies, and development of improved seismic provisions in building codes. As part of the President’s plan to improve tsunami detection and warning systems, the USGS will: · Implement 24 x 7 operations at the National Earthquake Information Center and upgrade hardware and software systems in order to improve the timeliness of alerts for global earthquakes. As part of the upgrade, USGS will fully develop what is now a prototype system to estimate the number of people affected by strong ground shaking after an earthquake using our ShakeMap model and databases of global population. Known as Prompt Assessment of Global Earthquakes for Response (PAGER), this system can provide aid agencies and others with a quick estimate of how significant the casualties might be well in advance of reports from affected areas where communications may be down. · Support research to develop more rapid methods for characterizing earthquakes and discriminating likely tsunamigenic sources. · Improve the detection response time of the Global Seismographic Network by making data from all stations available in real time via satellite telemetry and improving station up-time through increased maintenance schedules. Improved coverage in the Caribbean region will be achieved through the addition of stations and upgrades of existing stations through international partnerships and cooperation. · Further the use of software developed by the California Integrated Seismic Network (a USGS, university and State partnership) to speed USGS-generated earthquake information directly to local emergency managers with a dual use capability to also provide NOAA tsunami warnings. · Enhance existing USGS geologic and elevation mapping for coastal areas in the Caribbean. Such mapping is critical to development of improved tsunami hazards assessments for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The USGS will also continue its ongoing efforts to improve tsunami hazard assessment and warnings through geologic investigations into the history of and potential for tsunami occurrence; coastal and marine mapping; modeling tsunami generation, source characterization, and propagation; and development of assessment methods and products such as inundation maps with NOAA, FEMA, and other partners. USGS will also continue strong partnerships with state tsunami and earthquake hazard mitigation groups and contribute to public awareness efforts. An example of the latter is the 2001 publication, USGS Circular 1187, Surviving a Tsunami: Lessons Learned from Chile, Hawaii and Japan, which was prepared in cooperation with the Universidad Austral de Chile, University of Tokyo, University of Washington, Geological Survey of Japan, and the Pacific Tsunami Museum. Continuing investigations of the Indian Ocean tsunami provide a critical opportunity to expand our knowledge of tsunami generation and impacts and to evaluate the research and operational requirements for effective hazard planning, warning, and response systems. Mr. Chairman, I thank you for this opportunity to appear before the Committee and would be happy to answer any questions now or for the record.
Witness Panel 3
Dr. Roger HansenDirectorTsunami Warning and Environmental System for Alaska
Dr. Daniel CoxDirectorHinsdale Wave Research Lab
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee for the opportunity to discuss how research will continue to improve our nation’s ability to deal with tsunami risks. I am Daniel Cox, Director of the O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory at the Oregon State University College of Engineering, home to the world’s largest and most-wired facility specifically designed for tsunami research. Today, I would like to provide some information on how this new Tsunami Wave Basin facility is helping this country better prepare for the next tsunami scenario, including development of more effective tsunami warning systems, safer evacuation routes and procedures, and better building and bridge design. As mentioned in previous testimony and elsewhere, advanced numerical models are essential for tsunami mitigation and evacuation procedures. These simulation tools have been developed at research universities like Oregon State over the past several decades. The guidance and validation of these models, especially the inundation process of the tsunami wave impacting the coast and flowing over the land, has been achieved through careful comparison with laboratory studies. It is important that we continue to use the latest numerical techniques to improve their predictive capability and systematically test their accuracy with benchmark data before we rely on them for emergency planning, zoning, and construction guidelines. Background on the development of the Next-Generation, Shared-Use Facility for Remote Tsunami Research In the 1990s a series of NSF-supported workshops were convened by the tsunami research community to determine the needs for supporting the further development of tsunami research and numerical models. These workshops led to a document that outlined the requirements of a large wave basin, capable of generating solitons (or solitary waves which have tsunami-like behavior). In addition to the physical requirements and instrumentation of the new facility, the workshops stressed collaboration and a close integration of physical experiments and computer simulations through data sharing and research guidance based on field work and practical applications. Many of the researchers who participated in these early workshops were also actively involved in post-tsunami surveys, for example in Nicaragua, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. Their graduate students have gone on to successful careers at places like the NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory to work on tsunami inundation mapping. In the late 1990s, the need for a tsunami wave basin was recognized at the NSF, and funding for up to two facilities was included in the initial call for proposals in the first solicitation of the George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (or NEES) program. Through a competitive proposal process, Oregon State University was awarded a $4.8 M grant, which was augmented by approximately $1.2 M from the Oregon State University College of Engineering. One of the first steps was to establish an advisory board of tsunami experts, coastal engineers, and computer scientists from universities such as Cal Tech, Cornell, USC, and Delaware, as well as government agencies including NOAA. A second step was to actively engage the tsunami and coastal research community for input on the design of the new facility, instrumentation, and data sharing requirements. In parallel with this, the Principle Investigators of the tsunami project at Oregon State continued to work with the entire NEES consortium. The NSF funding also helped the OSU College of Engineering attract a world-class team of tsunami experts, computer scientists, and ocean engineers who appeared in many national media reports following the Asian tsunami last December. Construction of the new facility was completed ahead of schedule and commissioned during a ceremony on September 13, 2003. The Tsunami Wave Basin at Oregon State University was selected as one of four out of 15 NEES sites showcased in the NSF’s live demonstration of the NEES program in November, 2004. The Tsunami Wave Basin facility itself (Figure 1) is a large, rectangular basin, measuring 160 ft. long by 87 ft. wide by 7 ft. deep (48.8 m x 26.5 m x 2.1 m) with a wavemaker consisting of a series of programmable wave boards at one end. These paddle-like wave boards can be programmed to move in a carefully prescribed motion that generates a soliton (or solitary wave), which is a simplified form of a tsunami. At the end of the basin opposite of the wavemaker, researchers install contoured terrain characteristic of coastal features, such as bays or points of land. On this terrain, researchers can place models of coastal infrastructure such as bridges and buildings, for example, instrumented with sensors to measure the impact of the wave or debris. It is important to note that although the soliton is a simplified representation of the tsunami, it is complex enough to provide a strict test for numerical models. In other words, if a numerical simulation can not reproduce the simplified conditions of the laboratory, it will have little use as a decision-making tool. In addition to the construction of the physical basin, the NSF grant provided for the development of cutting-edge information technology (IT) infrastructure. This IT infrastructure assists in experimental planning, archiving, and sharing of data. It also enables researchers anywhere in the nation to remotely participate in experiments in real-time, saving travel costs and speeding research. Grand Challenges for the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) and Tsunamis A National Research Council report published in 2003 outlines the challenges in earthquake engineering as well as a research agenda for the NEES program, including tsunamis. The report provides the historical perspective of tsunami research, critical knowledge gaps, and outlines short-term and long-term research goals. The report recommends that “A complete numerical simulation of tsunami generation, propagation, and coastal effects should be developed to provide a real-time description of tsunamis at the coastline for use with warning, evacuation, engineering, and mitigation strategies” The short-term goals outlined in this report include: 1. Better understanding of tsunami inundation – how the wave travels over dry land 2. Better understanding of sediment transport under tsunamis 3. Quantify the impact forces of the tsunami wave and debris on structures 4. Determine the effects on buildings and groups of buildings 5. Work with the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program (NTHMP) to refine research needs to best support NOAA’s mission Medium-term goals include 1. Verify and validate numerical models for defining runup limits 2. Work with the geotechnical community to study the mechanics of landslide generated tsunamis The long-term goal is summarized as: Develop comprehensive, interactive scenario simulations that integrate the physical aspects (generation, propagation, inundation) with societal issues such as transmission of warnings to the public, evacuation, environmental impacts, rescue tactics, and short-term and long-term recovery strategies. What is the role of the Tsunami Wave Basin for future tsunami disasters? The intended purpose of the Tsunami Wave Basin at Oregon State University is to provide the research community with a controlled environment for the systematic study of primarily tsunami inundation and tsunami generation from landslides. Post-tsunami (reconnaissance) surveys provide new insights and valuable lessons learned about the real effects of the actual events. However, it is impossible to collect sufficient and accurate data from surveys to improve numerical models because the data/information are ephemeral and difficult to obtain. There is no way to make advance preparations to obtain data since it would be a formidable task to install a sufficient number of sensors in the field prior to a very unpredictable and rare tsunami event. For example, the speed of the wave is an important variable when considering evacuation or the safe design of buildings or bridges, but this data are rarely available. Wave height and direction are also extremely important but elusive quantities. All numerical models require known boundary conditions and initial (or starting) conditions. Because we have almost no quantitative information about the real tsunami as it approaches the shore, we can not properly prescribe the initial condition, and therefore we can not easily compare the damage at the site to the damage predicted in the model. The laboratory, however, provides us with a tool that can provide boundary and initial conditions as well as the resultant force of the tsunami as it impacts the coast. We can prescribe the same initial condition to the numerical simulation and then through comparisons with laboratory data, we can verify (or refute) the accuracy of the simulations. The increasing computational speed of numerical simulations has shown that we can simulate large geographical regions with complex shapes. The remaining questions are the accuracy of these simulations and inclusion of realistic features such as wave-impacts and debris flows. Development of Collaborative Tools for Natural Hazards Mitigation We have been developing three separate but closely related research programs on integration of hazard mitigation tools and information: 1) tsunami scenario simulations, 2) computational portal, and 3) tsunami digital library. These activities heavily rely on the advanced information technologies, and have direct impacts on hazard mitigation practice. Scenario simulations: An alternative to a full-scale field investigation is to perform repeatable and precisely controlled “scenario” simulations. A scenario simulation means a case study, either in a real or hypothetical background setup. Tsunami phenomena and effects are simulated for given geographical, seismological, geological, and societal conditions. Simulations must be comprehensive and integrated not only in tsunami generation, propagation, runup motion (flow velocities and inundation) and flow-structure interactions, but also other types of simulations such as warning transmission to the public, evacuation, environmental impacts, rescue tactics, and short-term and long-term recovery strategies. The simulation exercises should include physical models, numerical models, informatics, human behavior, communication simulations, and other exercises that will integrate the tsunami source with its eventual effects on communities and the environment. This activity is by nature a multi-university, multi-community, and multi-disciplinary effort. The goal is to provide damage estimates based on best available information, ultimately leading to earthquake related risk analysis/assignment for an urban region and to provide a rich problem-solving environment for the education of students. A tsunami simulation scenario must actually expand this concept to include the modeling of human behavior, since a primary emphasis of tsunami hazard mitigation is not only minimization of structural damage but also the saving of lives through evacuation. It is emphasized that this type of work must be collaborative. The collaboration with only a few researchers is insufficient; the entire community involvement is essential for the success. Tsunami digital library: In recent years, the Internet has become the primary source of information and data. Before the Internet, the challenge was limited access to information and data. Now the problem is locating information relevant to their discipline and validating the quality of such information. Existing web search technologies are insufficient to retrieve information that is relevant to a particular scientist’s context and guaranteed to have some level of quality assurance. New technology for information search that addresses both quality and context will substantially increase the effectiveness of scientists studying natural hazards and their mitigation, enabling greater understanding of hazards and more effective preparedness and response. Such information and data are highly diverse, and serve a very diverse community. The unique information challenges presented by tsunamis, the history of research collaboration among the tsunami scientific community, and increasing public awareness of the danger to life posed by natural hazards combine to make tsunamis an obvious focus for the first digital library of natural hazard information. The software components to be developed as part of this project will be used to develop digital libraries for other natural hazard domains. Computational portal: Numerical modeling is an essential tool for advancing our understanding of natural hazards, allowing us to study hazard characteristics, impacts, and prediction. At the same time, highly sophisticated models impose complex requirements for data, computational resources, and knowledgeable interpretation. Typically, it is individual researchers and mitigation personnel who must grapple with these problems. We are developing a coordinated, Web-based environment for sharing knowledge about tsunami prediction and mitigation. It will provide points-of-entry through which users can access computational models without the difficulties usually involved in managing data, computing resources, and other operational requirements. Summary The Tsunami Wave Basin at Oregon State University provides tsunami researchers with a unique tool to develop and test the next-generation of numerical models for tsunami simulations. The basin is designed as a shared-use laboratory, meaning that is researchers from around the country can access it through the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation program supported by the Nation Science Foundation through 2014. I would be happy to answer any questions you might have. Figure 1: Tsunami Wave Basin at the Oregon State University College of Engineering funded as part of the NSF NEES program.
Ms. Eileen SheaProject CoordinatorEast West Center
Mr. Chairman, Senator Inouye, Honorable Members, ladies and gentlemen, ALOHA and thank you for the opportunity to share some thoughts on the U.S. tsunami warning system and enhancing our efforts to build disaster-resilient coastal communities in the wake of the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Your initiative and leadership in this endeavor is crucial and is an important next step in this Committee’s longstanding legacy of commitment to the communities, businesses and natural resources that call the coastal zones of the world home. According to the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts and Islands, coastal areas (within 60 km of the shoreline) are home to 50% of the world’s populations and two-thirds of the world’s largest cities are located on coasts. The final report of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy notes that approximately 52% of the U.S. population resides in coastal counties which constitute 25% of the U.S. land area and include economic activities that contribute approximately $4.5 trillion (roughly half) of the Nation’s annual GDP. I am honored by your invitation to contribute to your deliberations. My thoughts today are based largely on my work in climate vulnerability assessment and risk management in the Pacific, including the use of climate forecast information to support decision-making. The tragic loss of life and property associated with the December 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami highlights the complex and close relationship between achieving national development goals and the ability to anticipate, prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters. Increasingly, international and regional development bodies like the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank are recognizing that effectively managing the risks associated with natural disasters such as tropical cyclones, coastal inundation from storm surge, droughts, floods and geologic hazards such as earthquakes and tsunamis, is an essential component of an effective, long-term development strategy. It is important to remember that the same nations that suffered the greatest impacts from the December 2004 tsunami are also highly vulnerable to other natural disasters. Typhoons, floods, and high wind and wave events are frequent visitors to the same coastal communities affected by the recent tsunami. As we take steps to reduce the vulnerability of coastal communities to high-impact, low-frequency events such as future tsunamis, we should also be strengthening their resilience in the face of other, more frequent and often devastating natural disasters including weather and climate-related extreme events such as hurricanes and typhoons, floods, landslides, drought and high wind and wave events. In other words, a comprehensive, multi-hazard approach is needed that establishes the social (human, institutional and political) as well as scientific and technical infrastructure necessary to anticipate and manage risks. If we focus only on the tsunami hazard itself, I fear that we will be like the proverbial general planning for the past war. In the 2004 World Disasters Report: Focus on Community Resilience, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies advocates a stronger emphasis on proactive, people-centered approaches to building resilience – rather than simply understanding and describing a community’s vulnerability to natural and man-made disasters. In this context, the 2004 report highlights the importance of “understanding the ability of individuals, communities or businesses not only to cope with but also to adapt to adverse conditions and to focus interventions at building on those strengths” with an emphasis on risk reduction and development work. I commend your Committee for emphasizing a comprehensive, longer-term approach in your initial planning for an effective U.S. response to the December 2004 tsunami. In this context and in light of other testimony, let me highlight the particularly important elements of such a program. These elements include: First, building information systems that support pro-active, comprehensive risk management; Second, improving understanding of vulnerability and effective adaptation strategies; and Third, establishing and sustaining the critical partnerships required to develop disaster-resilient coastal communities. Comprehensive Risk Management Information Systems Following the December 2004 disaster, we all focused on what could have been done to prevent such an awful loss of lives. Immediate attention was, appropriately, given to the technical systems that can provide the basis for more effective advance warning of future tsunamis. The expansion of seismic and ocean monitoring programs, the establishment of warning centers and the improvement of communications infrastructure to disseminate warnings and alerts are all critical and should be pursued aggressively. In this context, I would like to reinforce the importance of providing warnings and forecasts in language and formats that are accessible, understandable, useful and usable. In many parts of the U.S. and the world, this will involve translation into local languages and the use of relatively simple forms of communication such as radio, phone, facsimile and visual and auditory cues (such as warning flags and sirens) as well as the involvement of trusted, local knowledge brokers such as NGOs, religious, civic and, in the case of indigenous populations, traditional leaders and teachers. As we saw with the Indian Ocean tsunami, many of the most vulnerable populations lived in remote communities without access to the communications infrastructure of large urban centers. Reaching these communities remains perhaps the biggest challenge for disaster warning systems. Meeting that challenge should be of the highest priority as we move toward a pro-active risk management information system since the system will only be effective if it reaches those in danger. Decades of natural hazards research, responding to weather extremes as well as my own experience in exploring adaptation to climate-related extreme events in the Pacific suggests, however, that good international and local warning systems are only one part of an effective risk management information system. As a colleague of mine pointed out recently, a successful pass in the NFL requires not only a skilled quarterback but a skilled receiver who not only knows where on the field to be to catch the ball but also what he’s expected to do once he has the ball. In addition to knowing that more effective warnings are produced and disseminated, we should also be concerned with enhancing the knowledge, skills and capabilities of the receivers of those warnings including disaster management agencies and other national and local government officials, community and business leaders, NGO’s and other key elements of civil society such as women’s and youth groups and, ultimately, the public. The concept of enhancing public awareness is, of course, not new in the disaster management world. There is a strong foundation of ongoing disaster preparedness education programs underway funded by a number of U.S. Government agencies (e.g., NOAA, FEMA, USGS), other national and local governments; scientific and educational institutions as well as regional and international organizations and technical institutions. NOAA’s Tsunami Ready Communities program is a good example of this existing foundation. I hope that our response to the Indian Ocean tsunami will provide us with an opportunity to strengthen those programs and expand their focus beyond warning and immediate response to include a broader public awareness of the social, institutional and political challenges associated with building more disaster-resilient coastal communities. In this context, warning and communications system improvements should be accompanied by a broad education program designed to enhance the cadre of individuals and institutions in the region capable of assessing vulnerability, communicating warnings and managing risks associated with natural disasters. Such a program should include: · Targeted technical training to increase awareness of recent scientific developments in key hazard areas (e.g., tsunamis, weather extremes, climate variability and change) and make new tools and technologies in vulnerability assessment risk management decision support available to a wider Asia-Pacific community; · Leadership training programs in risk assessment and management for representatives of government agencies, businesses, universities, NGO’s, and coastal communities; and · Formal and informal education programs and materials to broaden public awareness and understanding of disaster risk reduction challenges and opportunities by introducing them to the multi-disciplinary suite of issues involved in development and implementation of risk reduction strategies. Such a program would recognize the importance of knowledge of local communities and cultures as well as the technical aspects of risk assessment and management including: environmental science and technology, land use planning, health, civil society, and cultural aspects of leadership, problem solving and decision-making. As we move forward, we also need to more effectively engage the media as a critical component of an effective, comprehensive risk management information system. Understanding Vulnerability and Promoting Enhanced Resilience An effective risk management information system also requires a better understanding of the multi-hazard vulnerability of coastal communities with an emphasis on strengthening the resilience of critical infrastructure, key economic sectors, valuable natural resources and, most importantly, the people who call those communities home. As some of today’s witnesses have suggested, the provision of high-resolution imagery, geospatial (GIS) technology, risk and vulnerability maps and model-based decision support tools are important elements of work in this arena. I encourage the Committee to complement these traditional vulnerability assessment tools with an integrated program of research and dialogue focused on building disaster-resilient coastal communities that would draw on the broad multi-disciplinary expertise of and technical capabilities of partners in government, academia, business and civil society. Such a program would recognize the connections among social, economic and environmental goals to reduce significant risks and build sustainable communities. In our internal deliberations following the tsunami, my own organization, the East-West Center, has decided that the multi-hazard approach to building resilience in coastal communities is the framework in which we will organize our post-tsunami program. Emphasizing a multi-hazard approach to comprehensive risk management such a program might include: · Targeted research to improve our understanding of the links between disaster risk reduction and sustainable development; assess vulnerabilities for key sectors, resources and populations; identify and explore opportunities to minimize the economic and social impacts of disasters; support the integration of traditional and local knowledge and practices with new scientific insights and technology to enhance risk management and adaptation; and explore local, national and regional governance options for effective risk management; · Enhanced risk reduction information services including the provision of high-resolution imagery, geospatial (GIS) technology and model-based decision support tools as well as support for local, regional and international discussions to support the emergence of an effective, multi-hazard warning and disaster risk management systems at local, national, regional and international levels; and · Dialogue on local, national, regional and international governance options for effective risk management – exploring how to better coordinate the roles of government, civil society and local communities in disaster warning, response and risk reduction. This last item reflects the importance of using a collaborative, participatory approach that effectively engages the scientific community and decision-makers in a process of shared learning to understand vulnerability and enhance resilience. Returning to my earlier football analogy – as we all know, that successful long pass requires more than just the quarterback and his receiver; it requires a team of individual players and coaches each contributing their special talents and unique expertise as part of a coordinated team effort informed by history, a shared understanding of individual roles and expectations and months or years of practice in working together toward a common goal. In thinking about building and sustaining disaster-resilient coastal communities, we’ll want to build a powerhouse team of international, regional and international institutions, government officials, businesses, resource managers, scientists, engineers, educators, NGO’s, the media and community leaders – each bringing their own insights and expertise to the table in a combined effort focused on the future. Building and Sustaining Critical Partnerships Building these partnerships will be a critical factor in our success. As the overwhelming response to the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami demonstrates, there are a large and diverse number of players on a risk management team ranging from individual community volunteers to international organizations like the United Nations. Many of the witnesses today have emphasized the importance of setting the international elements of a U.S. tsunami response program in the context of existing multi-national programs and institutions such as the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR); the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); the World Bank and regional development banks; and the planned Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS) among others. Earlier I referred to the importance of integrating local and cultural knowledge to enhance the effectiveness of technology and, in this context, we will also want to capitalize on the expertise and networks of a number of regional organizations and institutions. In the Pacific, for example, development of an effective multi-hazard, risk management system will likely involve technical, government leaders; disaster management and development agencies from all Pacific Rim nations, including the United States; the UNESCO International Tsunami Information Center; the South Pacific Applied Geosciences Commission (SOPAC), the Secretariat for the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), scientific, technical and educational institutions throughout the region. Hawaii alone, for example, is home to a number of technical and educational institutions that stand ready to contribute to the emergence of an effective, multi-hazard risk management system in the Asia-Pacific region including the East-West Center, the Pacific Disaster Center, the University of Hawaii, and the Center of Excellence for Disaster Relief and Humanitarian Assistance as well as the regional programs of a number of U.S. Government agencies such as NOAA, USGS, FEMA and others. As we consider the more local components of a comprehensive risk management system, of course, the team will expand to include state and local agencies, communities and NGO’s. Coordinating the work of these diverse partners is a challenge but meeting that challenge is essential to fulfilling our shared obligation to this and future generations. I’d like to take a moment to highlight an ongoing partnership in the Pacific that is already beginning to demonstrate the value of innovative collaboration and cooperation in the area of risk management. About three years ago, the NOAA Pacific Services Center convened a roundtable discussion among the various Federal, state and local agencies, scientific and educational institutions and regional organizations active in disaster management in the American Flag and U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands. Those individual players are now working together as part of a Pacific Risk Management Ohana (PRiMO). The Hawaiian word Ohana means family and, as the name suggests, the various agencies and organizations active in PRiMO are identifying opportunities to work together in creative new ways to advance critical elements of an effective local and regional multi-hazard risk management system including: coastal and ocean observing systems; data management; decision support tools; communications infrastructure and information dissemination; post-disaster evaluation and performance indicators; education, outreach and training; and traditional knowledge and practices. The enhanced level of collaboration represented by PRiMO helps put the Pacific in a strong position to take advantage of new technological capabilities and support the emergence of a comprehensive risk management information system in the region. An enhanced program of risk assessment and adaptation in the Pacific could contribute significantly to enhancing the resilience of the communities, businesses and natural resources of the region and, I believe, provide a demonstration of the value of not only new technologies but also of innovative institutional partnerships focused on comprehensive risk management. Concluding Remarks The overwhelming magnitude of the disaster generated by the December 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami will, I suspect, keep the images of suffering and devastation in our minds for some time. With those vivid images has come a remarkable level of energy, generosity and commitment to assist those in need. I fear, however, that if history is precedent, that commitment – like the images from the newspapers and television -- will begin to fade in the collective memory of those not immediately affected by the tragedy. The testimony of today’s witnesses and this Committee’s leadership in developing an effective, long-term response, however, suggests that this tragedy can lead to a new level of collaboration and commitment that will last far into the future. From the devastation of a single event in the Indian Ocean, I believe that we can work together to build disaster-resilient coastal communities in the United States and around the world. Perhaps the ultimate legacy of this recent disaster will be the emergence of a comprehensive risk management program that will protect the people, communities, economies and natural resources who call this planet home. Mahalo nui loa – thank you very much – for the opportunity to share these thoughts with you and Godspeed in your deliberations. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.