In response to the tragic tsunami on 26 December 2004, in which over 250,000 lives were lost around the Indian Ocean region, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (UNESCO/IOC) received a mandate from the international community to coordinate the establishment of an Intergovernmental Coordination Group (ICG) for each region: the Caribbean, the Atlantic and Mediterranean basins and the Indian Ocean, to guide the development of tsunami warning centres in those areas.
An end-to-end tsunami warning system begins with the rapid detection of a tsunami wave and ends with a well prepared community that is capable of responding appropriately to a warning. An effective end-to-end tsunami early warning system could save thousands of lives in a tsunami event.
The operation of a tsunami warning centre is a vital part of an end-to-end tsunami warning system. A tsunami warning centre is not only involved in acquiring and processing data for detecting a tsunami, but also in formulating and disseminating tsunami warnings and connecting with communities at risk to ensure that they understand the warning and have the capacity to respond.
End to End TEWS
Source: U.S. Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System Program (US IOTWS). 2007. Tsunami Warning Center. Reference Guide supported by the United States Agency for International Development and partners, Bangkok, Thailand. 311 p.
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This video library aims at sharing the knowledge produced in the field of disaster risk management and tsunamis.
Manuals and guides; 69
Manuals and guides. Languages: English.
Manuals and guides; 65
Manuals and guides; 61
A pilot project commissioned by IOC UNESCO Tsunami Resilience Section performed in several coastal schools in France between mid-October to end-November of 2022 found that Atlantic French coast children are aware of storm surge risk, while Mediterranean coast children are more knowledgeable about tsunami risk. This project seeks to better understand how young children perceive sea level-related hazards, particularly tsunamis, storm surges, and sea level rise. The findings highlight the different levels of preparedness of schools and children for these three hazards, emphasizing the positive strides made by Mediterranean coast schools in France in educating children about tsunami risks, while Atlantic coast schools in France tend to focus on storm surge awareness. Likewise, the results of the survey in France suggest that proximity to the sea and coast plays an important factor in defining the perception of risks related to sea level. The further a child lives from the sea, the less concerned is to sea level-related risk.
Photo credits: Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua.
The Atlantic coast schools in France are less prepared for a tsunami than the Mediterranean coast schools in France already implementing local initiatives to sensitize and prepare children for a tsunami. Cities on the Atlantic coast of France have not yet started implementing any education and tools, including Tsunami Ready to be prepared for tsunami risk. However, these schools are better aware and prepared to storm surges than those on the Mediterranean coast of France.
Remarkably, children living along the Atlantic coast of France displayed an impressive level of awareness regarding storm surge risks. 74% of children expressed concerns about the potential impact of storm surges on their cities, 56% believe that the sea level will rise, and only 8% consider tsunamis will occur. In contrast, children in Cannes, situated along the Mediterranean coast of France exhibited a higher degree of awareness regarding tsunami risks. Approximately 54% of children in Cannes think a tsunami could hit the city in the next ten years, while 47,1 % believe storm surges may happen. This enhanced awareness can be attributed to the local initiatives undertaken in the Mediterranean coast schools of France, which have incorporated tsunami education into their curriculum, empowering children with a realistic understanding of potential risks. Overall, children have a good knowledge of storm surges but less understanding of tsunamis. The French education programs address sea level rise, especially in the Atlantic coast schools of France where many schools participate in marine courses and climate-related awareness programs.
Children carrying out an evacuation exercise in Cannes, France, as a local initiative to sensitize and prepare them for a tsunami. Photo credits: Michel Giroldo.
Interestingly, children believe that the coast guard (57%) and the firefighters (62%), followed by civil protection (40%), the city hall (15%), religion (3%), and superheroes (1%) are the entities that would best protect them in the event of a marine hazard. Besides, an intriguing finding is that children perceive tsunamis as distant threats and have catastrophic impressions of tsunamis in other regions. Very importantly, children do not appear to understand the speed of and how long a tsunami wave might take to arrive., which should be a focal point of future educational efforts.
The UNESCO/IOC Tsunami Resilience Section team developed the questionnaire survey in consultation with members of the Working Group on Public Awareness, Preparedness and Mitigation and Task Team on Tsunami Ready of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Tsunami Early Warning and Mitigation System in the North-eastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean and connected seas (ICG/NEAMTWS). In the IOC Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) CoastWAVE project, the surveys have been conducted in seven countries and UNESCO IOC pilot Tsunami Ready communities. In this study, the survey questions were adapted and specially designed to target children from 8 to 14 years old, corresponding to the beginning of adolescence and the end of secondary school in France; and was conducted among 458 children with the assistance of town councils, the local civil security reserve, and teachers from the participating schools.
Education at this level is essential, especially when it comes to tsunamis, particularly as children view tsunamis as enormous and implausible waves. It is crucial to conduct awareness campaigns by incorporating education about sea level risks into educational programs beginning with the youngest children. This survey acts as a valuable tool for teachers, sparking the students' interest and generating meaningful discussions about coastal hazards. It is also recommended to employ visual representations and images of sea level hazards and risks in the region to better raise awareness among younger children.
This project's findings are expected to help strengthen the resilience of schools and children to coastal hazards and risks. One key objective in the future is to expand the study to younger children in coastal schools in France and other countries of the North-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean regions, involving all relevant stakeholders.
A ceremony took place on 12 April 2023 to launch the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the North-eastern Atlantic, Mediterranean, and connected seas Tsunami Early Warning and Mitigation System (ICG/NEAMTWS) 2030 Strategy (Technical Series and Brochure); and two new Tsunami Ready and Coastal Hazard Ready Posters. The ceremony was organized during the ICG/NEAMTWS Steering Committee meeting, 12-13 April at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, France with the participation of the ICG/NEAMTWS Steering Committee Members and Permanent Delegates to UNESCO from France, Italy, Portugal, and Türkiye (NEAMTWS Tsunami Service Provider countries). Dr. Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO provided an opening speech. The launch ceremony aimed to raise visibility and awareness of the ICG/NEAMTWS 2030 Strategy, share and promote the work and activities including the Tsunami Ready Recognition Programme of the ICG/NEAMTWS and the Tsunami Resilience Section; and strengthen connections and cooperation with NEAM UNESCO Permanent Delegations.
From top to bottom and left right: Presentation of ICG/NEAMTWS 2030 Strategy booklet by Mr. Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of IOC-UNESCO to Ms. Gülnur Aybet, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Türkiye to UNESCO; Mr. Denis Chang, Technical Secretary of the ICG/NEAMTWS presenting the Tsunami ready Poster; Group picture of the launch ceremony participants. Photographs credits: Tsunami Resilience Section team.
The Strategy will contribute to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), working towards a “safe ocean” where people are protected from ocean hazards. It will capitalize on the Ocean Decade societal benefits to improve monitoring, detection, and data-sharing among ICG/NEAMTWS Member States and partners. Dr. Vladimir Ryabinin, the Executive Secretary of IOC, emphasized “The Tsunami Resilience Section coordinates a 24-hour service that protects the lives of people, the only operational service in UNESCO-IOC that does this, therefore it is extremely important for the lives and safety of coastal communities. My job as the Executive Secretary of the IOC is to see the ICG/NEAMTWS 2030 Strategy is well integrated into the framework of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and exploit the opportunities that arise with it”.
The ICG/NEAMTWS 2030 Strategy identifies key objectives, and foundational elements for a continuously improving NEAM Tsunami Early Warning and Mitigation System (TEWS) to meet stakeholder needs during the period (2021–2030), and it is supported by annual to biannual Plans of Action. It will also contribute to the new Ocean Decade Tsunami Programme (ODTP) Research and Development Implementation Plan which will be considered for endorsement by the IOC Assembly in June 2023. Dr. Denis Chang Seng, Technical Secretary of the ICG/NEAMTWS, highlighted that “The ICG/NEAMTWS 2030 Strategy together with the Ocean Decade Tsunami Programme and the Research Development and Implementation Plan will drive and define the next major milestones across all the three key pillars of a Tsunami Early Warning System in NEAM region. The five Tsunami Service Providers countries in France, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Türkiye are the torch bearers to spearhead the way forward and support the engagement and participation of other countries in tsunami risk reduction”. The ICG/NEAMTWS 2030 Strategy brochure is also designed as a communication support tool to reach out to a broader audience, including the Ocean Decade community and partners. The full version of the NEAMTWS 2030 Strategy is published as IOC Technical Series, 171 (IOC/2022/TS/171).
The two Tsunami Ready posters were conceptually designed by Dr. Denis Chang Seng, Programme Specialist, and Technical Secretary of the ICG/NEAMTWS, Tsunami Resilience Section; and Mr. Alejandro Rojas, Tsunami Resilience Section Consultant. The posters will contribute to raising education and awareness of tsunami and other sea level-related coastal hazards by highlighting key aspects (i.e. Know Your Risk, Stay on Alert during anticipated hazards, Participate in Exercises, and Go to Safe Place) to be prepared based on the 12 Tsunami Ready Indicators (Manuals and Guides 74). The posters are not limited to the NEAM region countries, but will also be distributed to all four regional Intergovernmental Coordination Groups in the Pacific Ocean (ICG/PTWS), Indian Ocean (ICG/IOTWMS); and Caribbean Sea and Adjacent regions (ICG/CARIBE-EWS). The ICG/NEAMTWS 2030 Strategy brochure is also designed as a communication support tool to reach out to a broader audience, including the Ocean Decade community and partners.
Please visit the event site for more information on the ICG/NEAMTWS SC meeting and the launch ceremony.
The University of Chouaib Doukkali (UCD), one of the 8 national partners of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO) EU DG ECHO CoastWAVE project, organized a meeting on Tsunami Ready with high-level stakeholders in El Jadida, Morocco on March 11, 2023. The CoastWAVE project seeks to build resilient communities through awareness and preparedness strategies that will protect life, livelihoods, and property from tsunamis in different regions.
The representatives of the Laboratory of Marine Geosciences and Soil Sciences (LGMSS), the University of El Jadida, the National Civil Protection Agency, National Center for Scientific and Technical Research (CNRST), the Ministry of Interior, Solidarity Fund against Catastrophic Events, the Department of Meteorology, Tourismdelegates, the University of Montpellier, the Department of Ports and Maritime, the National Commission of UNESCO, IOC-UNESCO and the local media gathered for a meeting to discuss the actions to strengthen the resilience of the City of El-Jadida to tsunamis.
Photo 1: Stakeholders during the meeting. Credit: UCD
Opening the meeting, Prof. Bendahhou Zourarah, the director of LGMSS, UCD, highlighted the importance of international, national, and local collaboration in addressing the complex challenges of tsunami risk. "We must work together to build more resilient societies, enhance early warning systems, and ensure effective response and recovery mechanisms." Prof. Zourarah said.
Participants discussed a range of issues, including the need for more investment in tsunami alerting systems and integration of tsunami Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to the national Emergency Response Plans as well as the importance of raising public awareness about tsunami risks.
Dr Derya Vennin, CoastWAVE project coordinator, presented an overview of IOC UNESCO Tsunami Ready Recognition Programme and the CoastWAVE project and the upcoming activities of project. Participants also shared best practices and lessons learned from previous disasters, such as the 1755 Great Lisbon Earthquake that occurred in the Kingdom of Portugal on Saturday, 1 November 1755. The tsunami was accountable for most of the about 70,000 deaths in Portugal, Spain and Morocco.
One of the key themes of the meeting was the importance of incorporating the latest scientific research and technological innovations into early warning systems. This includes improved modeling, inundation, and evacuation mapping of tsunamis, as well as the development of real-time monitoring and communication systems. The meeting concluded with a commitment to continue working together to build a more resilient future in the face of tsunami risks.
Participants then proceeded with a ‘tsunami walk’ exercise with the participation of the media and students of UCD as part of the CoastWAVE project partners. The aim of the exercise was to raise tsunami awareness and help prepare the community of El Jadida against the risks of tsunamis.
‘Tsunami Walk’ Exercise
The exercise was organized by the University of Chouai Doukkali (UCD), a CoastWAVE national project implementing partner. During the exercise, the participants walked away from the coast following instructions from organizers and the designated evacuation routes to reach the refugee zone. The tsunami walk exercise was also a great opportunity for the students to learn about the dangers of tsunamis and how to stay safe in the event of an emergency. "I learned a lot today about what to do if there is a tsunami," said Maha Mounir, a participant in the exercise after reaching to the refugee zone in 10min.
Photo 2. Prof El-Khalidi (in blue suits), giving a briefing about the tsunami walk to the stakeholders and the students of UCD. Photo Credit: Mazagan24
"This exercise is important for our city, as we are at risk of natural hazards, including tsunamis," said Prof. Khalid El-Jadidi, the project coordinator of UCD. "By practicing our response to the emergencies as an individual, we are better prepared to handle any situation that may arise.
Project stakeholders are expected to participate in NEAMWAVE exercise later this year.
Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commision of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO) EU DG-ECHO CoastWAVE project country representatives gathered online between 16-17 February 2023 to learn more on the implementation of the IOC-UNESCO Tsunami Ready Recognition Programme (TRRP). The training focused on Tsunami Ready Indicators was hosted and facilitated by the IOC-UNESCO CoastWAVE project team. The training approach involved empowering CoastWAVE project representatives from Malta, Spain, Türkiye, Cyprus, Greece, Morocco, and Egypt. Experts of IOC-UNESCO Indian Ocean Tsunami Information Center also facilitated the training.
The IOC-UNESCO Tsunami Ready Recognition Program (TRRP) is a global initiative aimed at promoting tsunami preparedness and resilience in coastal communities consisting of 12 Indicators to be achieved. The program is designed to help communities improve their readiness by taking a set of specific actions, such as establishing a local tsunami warning system, conducting public education and outreach, and promoting evacuation planning.
Photo resource: Canva Pro.
During the training, participants from seven communities (El Jadida-Morocco, Alexandria-Egypt, Larnaca-Cyprus, Buyukcekmece-Istanbul, Marsaxlokk-Malta, Chipiona-Spain, Samos-Greece) learned about the requirements and benefits of the IOC-UNESCO Tsunami Ready Recognition Program. They also had the opportunity to ask questions and receive guidance on how to implement the program in their own community.
Mr. Bernardo Aliaga, Head of Tsunami Resilience Section, and Dr Denis Chang Seng, Technical Secretary of ICG/NEAMTWS, provided opening remarks highlighting the benefits, history, mission and vision of the programme, and the required skills, tools, and knowledge on how to better implement IOC-UNESCO TRRP. The training focused on key presentations regarding the implementation of 12 indicators of TRRP in accordance with Manuals and Guides 74.
"IOC-UNESCO is organizing this TRRP training with the aim of educating and empowering national project partners and relevant stakeholders to implement TR in their respective communities” said Dr Derya Vennin, Assoc. Project Officer, the project coordinator of CoastWAVE project.
Mr. Ardito Kodijat, Head of IOC-UNESCO Indian Ocean Tsunami Information Center (IOTIC) supported the facilitation of the training. He emphasized that the key importance of this programme is to strengthen the national capacities to become resilient to sea-level related hazards. Participants also expressed their appreciation of the training. "This program is an important step in ensuring that our community is prepared for the threat of tsunamis. By taking these actions, we can reduce the impact of tsunamis and help protect our residents and visitors." said Dr Didem Cambaz, the vice manager of Tsunami Service Provider, Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute (KOERI).
"We are excited to participate in this program and take the necessary steps to become IOC-UNESCO Tsunami Ready," said Dr Suzan El-Gharabawy, representative of National Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries (NIOF). "It is important that we work together to protect our community and ensure that we are prepared for any potential coastal disasters."
The training concluded with a wrap up discussion.
The training was attended by 48 experts. There was a declaration of commitment /interest to continue pursuing the IOC-UNESCO Tsunami Ready Recognition Program. In future, the NEAMTIC Secretariat plans to organize a bigger regional training on TR with the participation of other ICG/NEAMTWS Members States.
A deadly and damaging M7.8 earthquake hit southern Türkiye at 4:17 local time (01:17 UTC) on 6 February 2023 (Fig 1). According to the Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute in Türkiye – (KOERI), the earthquake occurred near the Syrian border at 90 km from the coast. The earthquake was felt as far as Cyprus, Egypt and Lebanon. The UNESCO/IOC Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Tsunami Early Warning and Mitigation System in the North-eastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean and connected Seas (NEAMTWS) responded to the earthquake. Tsunami Service Providers in Italy (INGV) and Türkiye (KOERI) issued their first tsunami bulletins within 8 to 15 minutes respectively following the detection of the earthquake. Several countries including Albania, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Montenegro, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia, and Türkiye were placed on Tsunami Watch. A tsunami ranging from (12-17 cm) was detected on sea level stations following the earthquake around Türkiye.
Fig 1: Seismic activity in the 300-km diameter area after the earthquakes by 08.02.2023 10:00 UTC (KOERI, 2023)
KOERI (Türkiye) Tsunami Service Provider (TSP) issued its official first regional tsunami warning message with 15 minutes after detecting the earthquake. KOERI estimated the magnitude of the earthquake at 7.5 MWP (13 km deep located at - 37.18 North, 37.09 EAST). INGV (Italy) issued its first bulletin within 8 minutes after the detection of the earthquake of 7.9 magnitude (Mwpd) (35 km deep at - 37.19 North 37.17 East). In the second bulletin, both TSPs reported that a tsunami had been recorded at three tide gauges located around Türkiye coast. KOERI reported sea level records on three tide gauges ranging from 12 -17 cm (Fig 2 and 3). INGV (Italy) issued the third and final bulletin at 06:02 Z, while KOERI issued its fourth and final bulletin at 09:59 Z.
Figure 2. Figure shows the earthquake locations and mareographs. Mareographs with Sea level measurements. Earthquake1 refers to Mw7.7 01:17 UTC and Earthquake2 refers to M7.5 10:24 UTC. Source KOERI
Figure 3: Iskenderun (top), Erdemli (bottom) mareographs. Red line indicates earthquake origin time. Source KOERI 2023
The next ICG/NEAMTWS Steering Committee will take place from 11-13 April 2023 in UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France.
More information will be provided in the weeks prior to the event.
The ICG/NEAMTWS XVIII session will take place in the last quarter of 2023.
More information will be provided in the months prior to the event.