Researchers from around the globe using data captured by a camera on a Hawaiian mountaintop, have photographically captured the dim red atmospheric glow caused by the March 11 tsunami issued by the Japan earthquake that devastated that country and traveled across the Pacific to do millions of dollars worth of damage elsewhere. The observation--the first of its kind--could be used to predict future tsunamis before they hit, saving countless lives.
So how does a tsunami register in the atmosphere hundreds of miles above? On the ocean, tsunamis can move many hundreds of miles per hour, but until they get close to the shallows created by a landmass they alter the ocean very little, outwardly showing themselves as a wave just one inch high. But that added inch of ocean pressure pushes up on the atmosphere ever so slightly, and if you know where to look you can see its impact in the sky.
Where you look is specifically about 155 miles straight up in the ionosphere. Here, the air is much thinner and the amplitude of that upward-traveling pressure wave is able to grow. It's also here that the pressure interacts with the charged plasma of the Earth's upper atmosphere, creating a faint red glow.
You can't see the glow with the naked eye, and in fact you can only see it from the ground with with the right kind of instruments (in this case, the Cornell All-Sky Imager at the Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing Station atop Haleakala) on a clear night with no moon. But a satellite in stationary orbit over the Pacific packing the same kind of instrument could likely monitor for tsunamis continuously.
That could be a big step toward a realistic tsunami prediction network. After all, this first-ever observation of tsunami-derived ionospheric "chemiluminesence" preceded the wave's arrival in Hawaii by roughly an hour.
The knew there was a massive earthquake seconds after it happened, they knew there was a tsunami coming. Spending millions for a space based detection system is not necessary. There was 6 mines notice before it hit land, not enough time to do anything.
In that instance, hollycow, I believe I could run a six-minute mile.
I can just picture Oregon & Washington trying to implement disaster plans to evacuate low lying areas along the coast when the Cascadia fault system is only 50 miles off the coast along all of Oregon and Washington (it's even closer in Oregon) and since the quake could easily be centered 10 to 20 miles away from the center line of the fault itself (depends on where it subducts exactly), then the epicenter could easily be less than 30 miles from the shore (or even closer).
In this event--your looking at people along the shore having at most 5 to 6 minutes to evacuate to at least 100 feet above sea level.
So here is the problem--since the quake itself can be 5 minutes in duration, such as was the case in the recent Japan 9.0 subduction quake--people might not get any warning at all because the tsunami would be on them as soon as the shaking stops. That would leave thousands vulnerable to drowning same as happened in Japan.
@gizmowiz the last two tsunamis that hit the pacific had hours before they hit land. The Japanese tsunami and the Indonesian tsunami a few years ago that killed hundreds of thousands.
even if its a 5 minutes it could save millions of lives.
You have to realize in the Asian pacific area. 99% of the population lives on small islands or within 20 miles of coast line. every single minutes counts. As we saw with the Japanese tsunami people lived or died becuase of a matter of INCHES. we saw people running for their lives just barely making it a few feet up a hill or a stairwell just to have the person behind them swept away and killed. 10 seconds more would have saved the person behind them.
So lets just give up, right giz?