04.12.2012 - UNESCOPRESS
Of the 39 member countries of the system (NEAMTWS), 18 participated (Cape-Verde, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Turkey)
The exercise tested the systems used for relaying warning messages and, in some countries (Germany, Denmark, Egypt, France, Malta, Portugal and Turkey) the readiness of civil protection services.
Four regional centres were mobilized for the exercise, each reacting to a different scenario. The National Observatory of Athens, for example, sent five messages by fax, email and by the Global Telecommunications System (GTS), which allows the transfer of meteorological data by satellite or via terrestrial meteorological centers. The scenario was based on an earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Aegean coastlines on 9 July, 1956.
The CENALT (Centre d’alerte aux tsunamis, hosted by the atomic and alternative energies commissariat in France) reacted to a scenario based on a powerful earthquake off the Algerian coast. Four messages were sent by fax, email and GST to NEAMTWS Member States. They were also transmitted to civil protection authorities in France.
The scenario developed by the Kandili Observatory of Istanbul’s seismic research institute (KOERI, Turkey) was based on an earthquake that struck Crete on 8 August 1303 which provoked deadly floods in the eastern Mediterranean. Twelve messages were sent to Member States’ focal points.
Finally, the Portuguese Sea and Atmosphere Institute (IPMA, Portugal) based its scenario on an earthquake and tsunami that struck the west of Gibraltar in 1755. During this exercise, six messages were successfully sent to NEAMTWS member states.
The tsunami warning system for the North Eastern Atlantic, Mediterranean and Adjacent Seas is one of four such systems implemented by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC). Established in 2005, it has been operational since 2011. The other systems have been set up in the Pacific and Indian Oceans and in the Caribbean. Their role is to evaluate risks, emit and relay warnings and encourage training programmes for vulnerable populations.
The complete evaluation of last week’s test will not be available for several months.
UNESCO Press Release No. 2012-114
North Atlantic and Mediterrenean tsunami warning system
put to the test
Paris, 16 November— A simulated tsunami will strike the western and eastern coasts of the Mediterranean Sea and the North East Atlantic shoreline on 27 and 28 November, to test the Tsunami Early Warning and Mitigation System for the North-eastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean and connected seas. The exercise, named NEAMWave12, is organized under the umbrella of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC).
NEAMWave12 foresees four earthquakes that provoke tsunamis impacting the shores of the Mediterranean and North Atlantic. Nineteen of the 39** States that are part of the region’s Early Warning and Mitigation System will take part in the exercise: Cape Verde, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Turkey. The purpose is to test communication systems that pick up warning signals and, in some countries, the ability of civil protection services to handle such threats.
Four organizations will be in charge of generating the four earthquake and tsunami scenarios for the test: the Kandili Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute of Istanbul (KOERI, Turkey), the National Tsunami Warning Centre (CENALT, France, hosted by the Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission), the National Observatory of Athens (NOA, Greece) and Portugal’s Institute of the Sea and the Atmosphere (IPMA). Three of these centres became operational in the summer of 2012.
Tsunamis linked to seismic activity have been observed in the Mediterranean and North-eastern Atlantic over the centuries, albeit less frequently than in the Pacific Ocean. A powerful earthquake in the Azores-Gibraltar Fault Zone and the tsunami it unleashed destroyed the city of Lisbon in 1755. In 1908, a tsunami claimed tens of thousands of human lives in Messina (Italy). On 21 May 2003, a tsunami struck the shores of Algeria and Spain’s Balearic Islands with waves ranging from one to several metres that also impacted ports on the French Riviera.
The Tsunami Early Warning and Mitigation System for the North-eastern Atlantic is one of four such warning systems coordinated by the IOC. The others are situated in the Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and the Caribbean. Their purpose is to assess risks, issue and relay warning signals and contribute to the education of populations at risk. The IOC coordinates the operation of these systems which can operate independently of one another.
**NEAMTWS: Albania, Algeria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cape Verde, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Mauritania, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Spain, Slovenia, Sweden, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom
The 9th Session of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Tsunami Early Warning and Mitigation System in the North-eastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean and Connected Seas (NEAM) was held 10 to 13 September, 2012, in Southampton, United Kingdom.
Attendees included 63 participants associated with ICG/NEAMTWS-IX 9th Session of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Tsunami Early Warning and Mitigation System in the North-eastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean and Connected Seas (ICG/NEAMTWS-IX), 7 of whom are provisional.
By the end of 2011, the NEAM region was the only region in the world where a Tsunami Warning System was not yet in operation. Several NTWCs have been established, some have also declared their availability to operate as Tsunami Watch Provider in interim status (Candidate Tsunami Watch Providers, CTWPs), subject to an accreditation procedure to be further developed and approved by the ICG/NEAMTWS in its 9th Session in September 2012. Two initial communication test exercises in 2010 were followed by the 1st Enlarged Communication Test Exercise (ECTE1) in 2011 with the involvement of all Tsunami Warning Focal Points (TWFP) in 31 countries in the NEAM region. On 22 May 2012, a second communication test, CTE2, was successfully conducted by CENALT with the additional aim of a preparatory exercise for NEAMWave12. NEAMWave12, as the first Tsunami Exercise in NEAM, assessed the national and local warning dissemination and response mechanisms put in place by Member State CPAs upon the reception of a Tsunami warning from their TWFPs. In addition NEAMWave12 addressed the questions related to the evaluation of alert messages by CTWPs and the issuance of the tsunami messages to TWFPs, as in the previous communication test exercises. NEAMWave12 took place from November 27 to 28, 2012.
The objectives proposed for NEAMWave12 were:
1. Validate and evaluate the Candidate Tsunami Watch Providers (CTWP) dissemination process of issuing Tsunami Messages in the NEAM region;
2. Validate and evaluate the procedures for countries to receive and confirm the Tsunami Messages issued by the CTWP trough their National Tsunami Warning Centres (NTWC), or the country Tsunami Warning Focal Points (TWFP) or the country Tsunami National Contacts (TNC).
3. Validate and evaluate the dissemination of the warning messages to the relevant agencies that are responsible for emergency response.
4. Validate and evaluate the organizational decision making process about public warnings and evacuations.
5. Identify the modes that would be employed to notify and instruct the public. Within the above framework, each country should develop its own specific objectives for the exercise.
NEAMWave12 involved the simulation of the assessment of a tsunami, based on an earthquake-driven scenario followed by alert message dissemination by CTWPs (Phase A) and continued with the simulation of the TWFP/NTWCs’ and CPAs’ actions (Phase B), as soon as the message produced in Phase A has been received. There were multiple scenarios in NEAMWave12, where each CTWP was responsible for a single scenario and each non- CTWP Member State was asked to choose one single scenario to participate in the exercise. Phase A was planned as a drill exercise with a time-frame element focusing on the functional requirements of NTWCs which have declared their operational status as CTWPs. These CTWPs were responsible for scenario tsunami assessment and message dissemination to Tsunami Watch Recipients (TWFP/NTWC). Each CTWP was responsible for a single scenario. Phase B is open to Member States by invitation and may include different types of exercise, such as an orientation exercise, a drill, a table-top exercise or a functional exercise, within the discretion of each Member State. The exercises in relation to NEAMWave12 are described in more detail in ICG/NEAMTWS-IX documents.