The German-Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System for the Indian Ocean (GITEWS) is set-up and ready.
The project ends on 31 March 2011, after which Indonesia would accept the sole responsibility for the overall system.
"The innovative technical approach of GITEWS is based on a combination of different sensors, whose central element is a fast and precise detection and analysis of earthquakes, supported by GPS measurements," said Reinhard Huttl, of the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences.
A tsunami warning takes place no more than five minutes after a submarine earthquake, based on all the available information from the 300 stations that were built throughout Indonesia in the past 6 years.
These include seismometers, GPS stations, tide gauges and buoy systems. Via a tsunami-simulation system, the information is converted into a situation map providing the appropriate warning levels for the affected coastline.
A key outcome of GITEWS project is, however, that the buoy systems do not contribute to this process that occurs in these first few minutes. There are therefore considerations to shift the GITEWS buoys further into the open ocean and to use them to verify an ocean-wide tsunami that could threaten other countries bordering the Indian Ocean.
The important conclusion is that even with the extremely short premonition times off Indonesia, the GITEWS system has proven to be technically and organizationally functional.
Since September 2007, four tsunami events were detected and warnings were issued for each. Especially the inhabitants of the off-shore islands, however, need to receive intensified and improved training on how to act when threatened. This includes not only the correct response during a tsunami alert, but also the correct behaviour before, during and after earthquakes.
Immediately after the disaster of 26 December 2004, the Federal Government of Germany contracted the Helmholtz Association, represented by the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, to develop and implement an early warning system for tsunamis in the Indian Ocean. The funds to the amount of 45 million euros are a contribution of the Federal Government from the aid-for-flood-victims pool.