Ahead of the one-year anniversary of Japan’s record-breaking 9.0 magnitude earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, the Japan-based Weathernews Inc. — the world’s largest private weather service company — has released a new service that warns of upcoming tsunamis in Japan online.
The service utilizes radars that can detect tsunami waves as far as 30 kilometers away from the coast, and capture images of them up to 15 minutes prior to their breaking on the shore. The waves must be at least 3 meters high — quelling any outcries of baby tsunamis that have little, if any, impact on human beings — but once they’re detected, the tsunami feed updates their progress across the Pacific Ocean every 2 seconds. And these updates continue right up until the waves reach the coast.
Along with the breaking coverage that Twitter offered the Japanese on March 11, the real-time results of the new service is at its core. “The defining difference between our service and the Meteorological Agency’s is that ours does not provide a forecast, but live tsunami coverage,” says Weathernews spokesman Hitoko Ito. “We think our system supplements the agency’s.”
With northern Japan still reeling after last year’s disaster, the locations of these radars might serve as a comfort to the Japanese. Currently, they are all located at 9 coastal sites along the prefectures affected by that massive tsunami — Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima and Ibaraki.
The new system does have some caveats. The real-time tsunami results are only available to “contracted municipalities and companies” — in other words, not the general public. And there are no plans to make the online feed publicly available, according to Ito. Moreover, while Weathernews’ system can monitor tsunamis and release live images, by Japanese law, only the Meteorological Agency can issue estimates on the times they will hit the coast, as well as the sizes of these tsunamis.
What do you think of this new real-time tsunami feed? Will it help the Japanese prepare for potential disasters, or will the lack of transparency to the public only fuel anxiety? Let us know in the comments.
[via Japan Times Online]
Originally published on Mashable; March 8, 2012