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Building peace in the minds of men and women

Saving lives in the Pacific: international tsunami warning and mitigation experts meet in Nicaragua to coordinate efforts

29 March 2019

San Rafael del Sur, Nicaragua: The Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Pacific Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (ICG/PTWS) will meet from 2 to 5 April, with 61 participants from 20 countries, as an ongoing effort to improve and sustain the regional system.

The Intergovernmental Group was created by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) as an international cooperative effort to embrace the comprehensive nature of tsunami risk reduction.  Established as a mechanism for countries in the Pacific whose coastal areas are threatened by tsunamis, and involving 48 Member States and territories of the region, the ICG/PTWS is one of the most successful international scientific programmes with the direct humanitarian aim of mitigating the effects of tsunami to save lives and property.

The Group’s 28th Session will include reviews and reports on progress and working group meetings to discuss and take action towards strengthening the system and enhancing the timeliness and accuracy of tsunami messages. The new Officers of the ICG/PTWS will be elected as well.  The PTWS is called to decide on the dates for full operational services by a recently inaugurated centre hosted by China, the South China Sea Tsunami Advisory Center (SCSTAC). It will also discuss about the dates for a trial period for the Central America Tsunami Advisory center (CATAC) hosted by Nicaragua.

The goal of the warning system is to provide timely and reliable tsunami information products to all its Member States. The system depends on the free and open sharing of seismic and sea level data to be able to continuously monitor and evaluate tsunamigenic events, and robust international communications systems for the timely dissemination of messages to all countries. Over history, 71% of the world’s confirmed tsunamis have occurred in the Pacific.

Tsunami warning for near-source regions requires rapid public response (within few minutes), and a substantial effort on public awareness and response. In this context, Member States will also discuss about a Tsunami Ready Pilot programme to recognize communities that have made special efforts on preparedness.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) hosted by United States and other tsunami service providers (NWPTAC hosted by Japan, SCSTAC hosted by China) serve as the operational headquarters for the PTWS. They will issue tsunami wave amplitude forecasts for potentially dangerous tsunamis.  PTWC works closely with other international, sub-regional and national centers in monitoring seismic and sea level stations around the Pacific Ocean for large earthquakes and tsunami waves. The system disseminates tsunami information and threat information messages to designated national authorities in over 100 locations across the Pacific.


For more information, please contact:

Bernardo Aliaga (b.aliaga@unesco.org)