Abu Dhabi: The UAE participated in a mock tsunami scenario last week to increase tsunami preparedness and evaluate response capabilities.
The National Centre of Meteorology (NCM) represented the UAE, along with the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) during the Makran Trench trial on Tuesday, October 20. The purpose of this Indian Ocean-wide exercise was to increase overall readiness and response, and to improve coordination.
“The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and subsequent events in the Indian and Pacific Oceans have brought to the attention of the world the urgent need to be more prepared for such events. This important exercise will test the current procedures of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation, System and help identify operational strengths and challenges in each country,” said Dr Abdulla Al Mandous, executive director at the NCM.
“Our goal is to ensure the timely and effective notification of tsunamis, to educate communities at risk about safety preparedness, and to improve our overall coordination. We will evaluate what works well, where improvements are needed, make necessary changes, and continue to practise,” Al Mandous said.
Tsunami threat simulated
During the exercise, the three Indian Ocean Tsunami Service Providers (TSPs) of Australia, India and Indonesia provided simulated tsunami threat information to all National Tsunami Warning Centres (NTWCs) in the Indian Ocean region. Each NTWC evaluated the information and formulated test national tsunami warnings, which will be disseminated to the disaster response agencies participating in the exercise.
NCM provides several authorities in the UAE with reports on seismic activities along the Makran Trench, and to north of the Arabian Sea and Oman Sea, to alert them when the region is triggered by strong earthquakes, especially along the east coast of the UAE. The aim is to manage the risk of tsunami or earthquakes with magnitude over 6.5 on the Richter Scale within the latitudes 20-26.1 degree north, and longitudes 56-69.5 degree east.
Preventing tsunami damages
As part of its drive to prevent tsunami damage, NCM supports the efforts to strengthen early warning systems in the countries of the North West Indian Ocean regions, including the Arabian Sea and the Sea of Oman. It is therefore involved in projects linking seismic networks, GPS stations and sea level measuring stations. It also seeks to save people and protect assets against tsunami risk by sharing risk data, contributing to joint studies, and sharing expertise in risk assessment. In addition, the NCM is involved in capacity-building to create a unified tsunami risk map in the North Indian Ocean — Arabian Sea region.
In collaboration with the concerned authorities, NCM seeks to raise awareness about the risks of natural disasters on the country, and educate the communities, especially those living in areas prone to tsunami, on how to act on the early warning information. Additionally, it shares valuable data that enhances understanding of tsunami risk, receives warnings from Indian Ocean Tsunami Information Center, and shares it with NCEMA after assessment. This allows relevant authorities in the UAE to collaborate in assessing tsunami risk, especially on the country’s east coast region.
Following the exercise, a review and evaluation will be conducted by all participating countries and agencies. The exercise is in the Work Plan of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System, body of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.