Wave-powered tsunami warning

60,000 people and $4bn in assets are exposed to the global tsunami hazard.[1,2] These numbers are expected to increase due to population growth, migration to coastal areas, global warming, and the concentration of assets in ports.[2,3,4] Tsunami detection systems send data to control centres that then generate tsunami hazard maps and issue warnings to threatened communities.[5]

Weather can turn quickly, but current tsunami detection systems send out only one acoustic data package per hour due to their power supply limitations.[6,7] Batteries last about 30 months and are prone to failure, requiring frequent service calls that can cost up to $25,000 per visit.[8,9]

Combining detectors with wave energy systems will allow them to send more frequent data packages, and will also increase savings by lessening the frequency of battery replacement visits.[10]

When will early-warning tsunami detection systems be powered by ocean wave energy?

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[1] Science Daily (2016), A warning system for tsunamis
[2] Bernard, E., Titov, V. (2015), Evolution of tsunami warning systems and products
[3] Jackson, J. (2006) Fatal attraction: living with earthquakes, the growth of villages into megacities, and earthquake vulnerability in the modern world
[4] Huppert, H. E., Sparks, R. S. J. (2006), Extreme natural hazards: population growth, globalization and environmental change. Phil. Trans. R. Soc.
[5] Sonardyne (2020), Tsunami Detection System
[6] Interview with Resen Waves’s CEO
[8] Bonvik-Stone, D.(2019), Wave Buoys: Pitfalls, Price Tags and Piracy on the High Seas
[9] Østergaard Fjendbo, H.(2016), How an intelligent power handling system will increase the lifespan of a data buoy’s power system
[10] Electro Standard (2020), Wave Energy - Wave Energy Conversion Systems
More Information
Garthwaite-Stanford, J. (2019), New tsunami warnings could get more people to safety
National Academy of Sciences(2011), Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts
Løvholt, F. et al. (2015), On the characteristics of landslide tsunamis
Wünnemann, K., Weiss, R. (2015), The meteorite impact-induced tsunami hazard
Pattiaratchi, C. B., Wijeratne, E. M. S. (2015), Are meteotsunamis an underrated hazard?
Paris, R. (2015), Source mechanisms of volcanic tsunamis
Takahashi N. et al. (2015) Buoy Platform Development for Observation of Tsunami and Crustal Deformation. In: Hashimoto M. (eds) International Symposium on Geodesy for Earthquake and Natural Hazards (GENAH). International Association of Geodesy Symposia, vol 145. Springer, Cham

By Matthew J. Spaniol