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Software to help tsunami forecasting

Thursday August 15, 2013 Written by Published in Technology

Cook Islands emergency stakeholders are better prepared for natural disasters after a three day training course.

The Community Model Interface for Tsunami (ComMIT) course was recently held for the very first time in the Cooks.

The workshop was held at the Edgewater Resort and involved 20 local participants.

It was presented by Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s Dr Stewart Allen and Pacific Marine and Environmental Laboratory’s (Seattle, USA) Chris Moore and Dr Diego Arcas.

The purpose of the workshop was to provide an introduction to tsunami science and modeling and train participants in the use of ComMIT.

ComMIT is an easy-to-use graphic interface that provides participants with the tools and the ability to develop their own inundation maps for regions of interest, as well as an understanding of the required data inputs and their limitations. The ComMIT programme also allows the Cook Islands to build tsunami modeling capability for forecast and hazard assessment.

“We are very fortunate to have this course running in the Cook Islands to enable us to come up with various scenarios of what might happen,” said Emergency Management Cook Islands (EMCI) director Charles Carlson.

“It was fantastic to see a lot of enthusiasm coming from the participants as they got stuck into creating their modeling scenarios and reported on the result.”

The instructors remarked that it was clear the participants’ talents aided them in quickly grasping the science and becoming proficient in the software.

According to Carlson, the workshop was very helpful in providing an insight into technology that can aid Cook Islands in cases of natural disasters.

“I must say it has been an eye-opener for many of us and will be very helpful in our decision making in case of an earthquake or tsunami in the region,” he said.

“The Tonga trench will certainly be the big concern for us, but there is always that element of a risk from other trenches.”

The nature of the software is that it is ‘community-based’ and according to Carlson, “this training will lead to further collaborations and consultation with an ever growing group of ComMIT users and developers. This, in turn, will empower the Cook Islands to develop their tsunami warning capacity”.

EMCI acknowledged the aid of William Tuivaga who attended a similar course in Sydney and requested that the course be held in the Cooks. A training course dedicated to the Cooks was approved by the lead researcher Diana Greenslade. The course was subsequently funded through AusAID’s Pacific Public Sector Linkage Programme.

Carlson added that the workshop not only benefited their EMCI division but other sectors that deal with coastal planning, marine, environment, developments, housing, education including the outer islands.

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