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China building tsunami early warning system in S. China Sea

Reporter: Ge Yunfei 丨 CCTV.com

07-12-2016 10:38 BJT

China is rapidly building up its tsunami warning system in the South China Sea, with a bigger network of buoys in the sea and an advanced tsunami evaluation model. Our reporter visited the country's marine forecasting center in south China's Guangdong province to find out how the system works.

The tsunami, perhaps the most destructive oceanic force on earth. In 2011, a giant tsunami hit Japan. More than 18,000 people were confirmed dead or missing in the catastrophe. One month later, China's State Oceanic Administration called for the building of a tsunami early warning system in the South China Sea.

This is the latest Chinese tsunami monitoring buoys. Each one is equipped with solar panels and one of China's Beidou navigation devices. They can be up to 56 tons. Staff took us inside the buoy to have a closer look. 

"This is the buoy data collecting system. All readings of water levels, temperatures and sea depths can be synchronized via satellite in the control room at headquarters," said Liu Tongmu South China Sea marine survey technology center.

China has built a monitoring network with two deployment locations on the South China Sea. The data the network detects can be simultaneously read in these charts.

"This region in the South China Sea is where the Manila Trench is located. The drastic change in the seabed leads to a greater possibility of an earthquake formation. And an earthquake of more than magnitude-7 would trigger a tsunami formation. If one occurs, the buoys on the sea will detect the tsunami waves and send the data back here. The analysts will use the tsunami model to give a report to evaluate the potential risks," said Ge Yunfei Guangzhou.

Bai Yiping is the deputy director of the South China Sea prediction center. He told me each buoy costs 16 million yuan, and his center can evaluate a tsunami within a minute

"The government is investing a lot more in building a tsunami warning system, so our tsunami research is getting better and better. Now we can finish calculating the early warning in minutes, or even in 30 seconds," said Bai Yiping, deputy director S. China Sea prediction center, State Oceanic Admin.

But a tsunami wave travels slower than an earthquake, so the center adopts a two-track system to issue a tsunami early warning.

"If an earthquake happens, firstly, according to the information we receive from the State Seismological Bureau, we issue our first early warning. Then in 30 minutes the waves will reach the locations of the buoys. After analysing the wave data, we’ll keep updating the prediction reports," said Dr. Jiang Lifang, ASST. chief engineer S. China Sea prediction center, State Oceanic Admin.

Jiang says this early earning system does not only serve China, but also provides warning service for the neighboring countries in the region. But to provide more accurate predictions, more buoys along with more international cooperation are needed.

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