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Mitsubishi Electric Develops Enhanced Tsunami Detection Technology

Published: Jan 25,2019

Mitsubishi Electric announced today that it has developed an high-frequency ocean surface radar technology that provides detailed measurement of tsunami sea levels, allowing more accurate and timely detection of the multiple wave-fronts of tsunamis.

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The technology is able to correctly detect tsunamis with an false alarm rate as low as 0.1 percent and estimate sea levels to within 50 centimeters, an improvement over 1m accuracy of conventional technology, enabling earlier and more accurate estimation of the scale of a tsunami, thereby facilitating timely evacuation and the minimization of casualties. Going forward, the company will continue to develop the technology together with universities, aiming at commercialization by the year 2025.

High-frequency ocean surface radars of the kind supplied by Mitsubishi Electric since 1999 are designed to monitor ordinary ocean currents, but cannot detect tsunamis. Following the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, which triggered a massive, deadly tsunami, it was reported that the tsunami had actually been detected by oceanographic radar. As a result, Mitsubishi Electric began working on tsunami multiple wave-front detection technology using high-frequency ocean surface radar. The company hopes that its enhanced technology will help minimize any further loss of life resulting from tsunamis.

According to the Japan Society of Civil Engineers, oceanographic radar can observe ocean surface currents up 50 kilometers offshore. Tsunamis can reach a speed of 98km/h at a tilted sea depth of 300 meters, so a tsunami 50 kilometers offshore can reach the coast in 30 minutes. The Urban Renaissance Agency has determined that a 10-minute early warning is required to successfully evacuate most coastal communities threatened by an approaching tsunami.

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