Wednesday October 04, 2023

Nasa tests technology to detect tsunamis by Earth's atmosphere

As one of the fastest of its kind, new system is being developed to improve early warning systems by sifting signals for clues of a tsunami somewhere on Earth

By Web Desk
June 02, 2023
This representational picture shows a tsunami in action. — Unsplash/File
This representational picture shows a tsunami in action. — Unsplash/File

Scientists at Nasa are testing a novel technology to predict a tsunami with the help of disturbances they create in the Earth’s atmosphere.

“Scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at Nasa are testing a novel approach to detect tsunamis by the rumble they make in the atmosphere,” the agency said Wednesday.

According to Nasa, the new technology, namely Guardian (GNSS Upper Atmospheric Real-time Disaster Information and Alert Network), is a hazard-monitoring technology that uses data from GPS and other satellites to detect real-time positional accuracy down to a few inches.

The technology is being tested by Nasa’s team of researchers in the Pacific Ocean’s geologically active Ring of Fire, a location where about 78% of more than 750 confirmed tsunamis occurred between 1900 and 2015, India Today reported.

Tsunamis are powerful ocean waves caused by underwater earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or landslides.

The new system is being developed to augment early warning systems by sifting the signals for clues that a tsunami has arisen somewhere on Earth, the report said.

Once a tsunami strikes, the system monitors the displaced air as well as the charged particles that slam into the ionosphere. 

A wide area of water surface may rise and sink almost simultaneously during a tsunami, displacing a substantial amount of air above it.

As it moves outward, the displaced air slams into the atmosphere, sending low-frequency sound and gravitational waves in all directions.

According to Nasa, the resulting collision of charged particles and pressure waves might skew the signals from adjacent navigational satellites.

These slight changes can be used as a lifesaving alarm bell. “Instead of correcting for this as an error, we use it as data to find natural hazards," Léo Martire, a JPL scientist, said.

Furthermore, the Guardian's near-real-time monitoring tool is one of the fastest of its kind.

“We envision Guardian one day complementing existing ground- and ocean-based instruments such as seismometers, buoys, and tide gauges, which are highly effective but lack systematic coverage of the open ocean,” says Siddharth Krishnamoorthy, also part of the JPL development team.