New magnetic field-based tsunami forecasting method could save thousands of lives


Scientists have discovered a new method of tsunami detection that could improve response times and alerts before deadly natural water walls reach shore, A press release reveals.

The new method detects tsunamis using the magnetic fields they generate as they move through conductive ocean water. These magnetic fields can be detected minutes before sea level rise, resulting in potentially life-saving additional response times.

The first real evidence of tsunami magnetic field detection

The researchers had previously predicted that tsunamis could be detected via magnetic fields, but they lacked data to prove the hypothesis. Today, a team of researchers from the American Geophysical Union (AGU) presented their new method for the first time using real-world data. They published their findings in a new paper in the Geophysical Research Journal: Solid Earth.

The researchers used data from a 2009 tsunami in Samoa and a 2010 tsunami in Chile to show that they could predict tsunami wave heights using magnetic field detection. Their study shows that magnetic fields arrive before sea level change before a tsunami. Although the results vary with the depth of the water, they showed that at a depth of about 4,800 meters, a magnetic field could be detected about a minute before a change in sea level.

“It’s very exciting because in previous studies we didn’t have the observation [of] sea ​​level change, “said Zhiheng Lin, one of the study’s authors, from Kyoto University.”[Now] we have observations [of] change in sea level, and we find that the observation is in agreement with our magnetic data as well as with the theoretical simulation. “

New methods could save many lives

To achieve their results, the team examined simultaneous measurements of sea level change based on seabed pressure data and magnetic field measurements during tsunamis in Samoa and Chile. They found that the magnetic field during these tsunamis was so sensitive that it could accurately detect a wave height of a few centimeters.

The AGU team is not alone in working to improve predictions of these catastrophic events. In February, Riken and Fujitsu announced that they are developing an AI tool to predict tsunamis, using the world’s fastest supercomputer, Fugaku. This work can help improve models for predicting future tsunamis that could potentially help save thousands of lives. the The 2011 Tohoku tsunami in Japan, for example, killed 18,000 people, while the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami killed around 230,000. Others would likely have died if it weren’t for the existing warning systems, but improvements to these systems could still save many more.


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