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Cablegate: Unesco/International Oceanographic Commission

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 08 PARIS 002415

SIPDIS

FROM USMISSION UNESCO PARIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TPHY AORC OTRA PBTS WWT UNESCO
SUBJECT: UNESCO/International Oceanographic Commission
Meeting coordinates Indian Ocean tsunami warning system

Ref: STATE 33352


1. SUMMARY and Introduction:
The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC)
convened The International Coordination Meeting for the
development of a Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System for
the Indian Ocean within a Global Framework, at UNESCO
Headquarters in Paris, 3-8 March 2005. The meeting Its p
reinforced the IOC's lead role in coordinating efforts to
set up global and regional tsunami warning systems; (b) , a
primary USG goal. (The USG supports expanding the Pacific
Tsunami Warning network -- which exists under the auspices

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of the IOC -- to the Indian Ocean and other at risk areas,
within the framework of the Global Earth Observation System
of Systems (GEOSS)). The meeting also resulted in the
agreeing to eestablishment of an International Coordination
Group for the Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System for the
Indian Ocean, whose terms of reference will be approved at
the IOC's General Assembly in June; (c) , as well as in the
setting up of a process and timeline to design a basin-wide
Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System (IOTWS).

2. The meeting concluded with a The U.S. played a key role
in the meeting. Its policy statement, made by Head of
Delegation and U.S. Representative to the IOC Executive
Council, NOAA Assistant Administrator Dr. Richard Spinrad,
was well received (full text at end of cable). U.S.
technical agency experts (USGS, USAID, NOAA) made formal
presentations, intervened on key points and participated
actively in all working groups. The experience of the U.S.-
hosted Pacific Tsunami Warning Center was highlighted three
times and U.S. interventions helped to establish a short
term process to complete the IOTWS design outline and work
plans perhaps as soon as June.

cCommuniqu that underscored national responsibility for
establishing and managing national warning systems,
including the emphasized the critical role of education in
for community preparedness, , and and the role of urged all
countries to engage in capacity building and technology
transfer in the Indian Ocean region to help build tsunami
warning and mitigation systems. It was decided that the
Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System (IOTWS) would consist of
a coordinated network of national systems; though several
countries vied for serving as the regional coordinator,
there was no consensus on the matter. The communiqu also
recommended that all Member States "make every endeavor" to
share seismic, sea-level and other data relevant to
tsunamigenic events at or near real-time. Within the IOC,

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the US has consistently supported open and free exchange of
data, including in the context of tsunami warning systems;
this is likely to remain a contentious issue as the IOTWS
moves forward. The Communiqu and all presentations are
available at http://ioc.unesco.org/indotsunami.

3. IOC will sponsor a follow-up meeting in Mauritius, 14-16
April, with the aim to develop the draft design and work
plan for presentation to the June IOC General Assembly. For
additional information, contact Liz Tirpak (DOS/OES,
tirpakej@state.gov, 202-647-0238) End Summary and
Introduction. The Communiqu and all presentations are
available at http://ioc.unesco.org/indotsunami.

MEETING OVERVIEW
----------------

4. The IOC hosted the International Coordination Meeting
for the Development of a Tsunami Warning and Mitigation
System for the Indian Ocean within a Global Framework, in
light of the tragic loss of life and massive destruction
caused by the Indian Ocean tsunami of 26 December 2004.


5. The U.S. policy statement, made by Head of Delegation
and U.S. Representative to the IOC Executive Council, NOAA
Assistant Administrator Dr. Richard Spinrad, was well
received (full text at end of cable). U.S. technical agency
experts (USGS, USAID, NOAA) made formal presentations,
intervened on key points and participated actively in all
working groups. The experience of the U.S.-hosted Pacific
Tsunami Warning Center was acknowledged by several speakers.

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6. Many U.S. delegation goals were reinforced in the
opening statement by UNESCO Director-General Koichiro
Matsuura, made a strong opening statement that who
emphasized IOC's role in in the governance structure to
linking internationally- run detection/alert systems with
nationally- run warning systems. He underscored that a
tsunami warning system should be fully embedded in the

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global , operational ocean observing system (GOOS) that is
regularly used for other hazards, such as storm surges and
tropical cyclones. Following the February Global Earth
Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) meeting and third
Earth Observation Summit in Brussels, Mr. Matsuura noted
that "synergies between existing and new systems will make
possible a multi-hazard approach that should improve the
cost-effectiveness and long-term sustainability of the
overall system." Lastly, he drew substantially on the
experience of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center IOC in
designing and operating a warning system TWS, providing for
open, free and unrestricted exchange of data and
information, and highlighting promoting the three components
of a TWS: tsunami hazard assessment of tsunami hazards;
detection/warning system; and adoption of preparedness
measures.

7. Twenty IOC member states offered various levels of
support for the creation of an Indian Ocean tsunami warning
system. No nation rejected the idea, but no nation pledged
support without conditions. (Note: Australia, India,
Indonesia, and Thailand appear to have the most advanced
planning with funding to back their plans. All three plans
are based on the Pacific Ocean Tsunami Warning System (PTWS)
of an integrated approach of hazard assessment, warning
guidance, and preparedness, with India's plan being the most
comprehensive. End Note.)

8. Data Exchange Issue - Several participants acknowledged
that "immediate, free and open distribution of raw data from
observing systems in real time" should serve as the founding
principle for all regional and global tsunami warning
systems, while India could offer only "international product
sharing." Other participants suggested that the IOC Data
Exchange Policy, adopted by the Assembly in 2003, should
serve as the "guiding principle" for IOTWS. (Note: Though
the U.S. endorsed the IOC Data Exchange Policy, the Policy
refers only to oceanographic data, not to seismic or other
types of data crucial to an effective tsunami warning
system.) The Communiqu ultimately recommended that all
Member States "make every endeavor" to share seismic, sea-
level and other data relevant to tsunamigenic events at or
near real-time.

9. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and the Japan
Meteorological Agency agreed to provide interim tsunami
alerts to the Indian Ocean region based on existing
facilities until adequate warning capabilities are
established within the region. Four nations in the region
(Australia, India, Indonesia, and Thailand) confirmed their
plans to establish systems and capacities to detect and
measure tsunamigenic events and issue appropriate warnings
to forecast their impacts. Until and unless a regional
center is identified, the national centers agreed to supply
product and services to other national centers in the
region.

10. Discussions were organized by topic, addressed first in
panel and later in three separate working groups. The three
main topics were technical aspects, organizational aspects,
awareness and preparedness.

Technical Aspects
-----------------
DATA EXCHANGE
Data exchange policy and practice was a recurrent theme in
throughout the meeting. Several participants (name the
countries?) acknowledged that "immediate, free and open
distribution of raw data from observing systems in real
time" is a founding principle for all regional and global
tsunami warning systems, while others suggested that the IOC

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Data Exchange Policy, adopted by the Assembly in 2003,
should serve as the "guiding principles" for IOTWS. Though
the U.S. endorsed the IOC Data Exchange Policy, it refers
only to oceanographic data, not to seismic or other types of
data crucial to an effective tsunami warning system. The
Communiqu ultimately recommended that all Member States
"make every endeavor" to share seismic, sea-level and other
data relevant to tsunamigenic events at or near real-time.


BEYOND THE INDIAN OCEAN
The final session on "The Indian Ocean System within a
Global Framework" provoked substantial debate as to how
other region's tsunami warning systems (e.g., Mediterranean
and Northeast Atlantic, Caribbean and Central West Atlantic,
and Southwest Pacific) would be reflected in the Communiqu.
India and other IO members provided text that limited
examples to areas adjacent to the Indian Ocean, such as
South-East Asia and the South China Sea.

Responding to prior U.S. correspondence, The IOC Executive
Secretary Dr. Patricio Bernal outlined his interest in

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discussing potential FY 05 financial support via extra-
budgetary U.S. contributions for...(letter to be available
tomorrow).

OTHER SPECIAL TOPICS?
?
- roles of India, Japan, other key delegations
- anything on donor concerns
- During the meeting, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban
Treaty Organization (CTBTO) announced: ......
- ????


11. The panel on the technical aspects of tsunami warning
systems (TWS) was chaired by the representative from
Indonesia who presented some graphical material on the
effects of the recent tsunami and the need for improvement
of monitoring and warning technologies in the Indian Ocean.
The panel was made up of scientific and technical
presentations by experts from the Russian Federation and
Japan. The Russian expert presented statistics on tsunami
occurrence and likelihoods of tsunami generation and their
severity from earthquakes of various magnitudes. The
Japanese experts covered the current technologies used in
Japan to detect tsunami and issues warnings, with particular
emphasis on the challenges of warnings of local tsunamis
compared to those caused by distant earthquakes.
Presentations also reviewed the factors controlling tsunami
height and on-shore run-up. The Chair of the IGC/ITSU gave
the most scientifically controversial presentation by
describing "emerging technologies" for tsunami detection and
warning, including perturbation measurement from the
ionosphere, infrasound measurements, satellite-based ocean
height measuring systems, and on-shore radar.

12. Dr. Neville Smith (Australia) chaired the technical
aspects a working group, which was tasked to identify and
recommend: (1) the technological basis for a tsunami warning
system (measurements and telecommunications, analysis,
processing and hazard/risk assessment); (2) design elements
of an IOTWS, (3) the strategy for building an IOTWS, and (4)
new technologies and research and development needed. The
resulting report consists of provided both general and
specific a series of bulleted points recommendations that
will be considered in for the preparation of the design plan
:
a necessary condition for the success of any design for
an IOTWS is the free and immediate flow of raw observational
data, in real time over robust communication links, to all
national and regional participants in the system is a
necessary component for TWS.
common approaches to data processing, hazard and risk
modeling, and warning dissemination and message format are
essential.
coastal bathymetry, sea floor configuration, topography
and land mapping are essential and must be carried out and
be made available in high resolution format for all at-risk
national coastal regions.
utilization of new technologies should be explored.
the requirements for use of space technology for
tsunami applications must be defined.
network must enable the all data, as well as the
results of the real-time analysis, need to be made available
to all analysis/warning centers in real time for the rapid
rapid
verification of tsunami waves from sea-level and ocean-
bottom sensors.
geostationary communication satellites operating in the
Indian Ocean region and the use of Global Telecommunication
System (GTS) of WMO, which is currently operational used for
the Pacific Tsunami Warning System (PTWS) for collection of
sea-level observations and distribution of bulletins and
warnings, should be upgraded within 6 months and fully
operational to address needs of the Indian Ocean region in
the interim and longer-term be explored.
broadband is needed for real-time distribution of
seismic data.
telecommunication systems that meet these requirements
should be identified and utilized.
risk management framework should be employed and
complemented by robust models and scenarios of historical
and potential tsunami events that can be used in the
formation and dissemination of warnings.
for both seismic and sea level networks - upgrades must
must
be identified and prioritized.
establishment of deep ocean buoys useful for tsunami
monitoring is needed.
cable-based systems should also be assessed as these
instruments are important for slumping events and other
events that are not seen in seismic measurements.
network planning should start with identifying and
mapping the tsunami prone areas. This should be based upon
a historical study of earthquake and tsunami occurrences.
robustness and durability of the instruments and the
system as a whole to the impacts of the earthquakes needs to
be considered
emerging technologies should be considered in the
overall strategy, to ensure the evolution of the system
relative to best practice.
12. In addition, further rationalization of the technical
aspects is required because, particularly in During the
instrumentation and communication discussions, vocal
participants with narrow interests often held the floor and
carried their positions forward. Nevertheless, there was
was
the recognition that many of the pieces for the ITOTWS are
in place or in progress; the challenge rests in putting the
pieces together in a structure that has the needed
telecommunication, data processing, and warning
dissemination capacities.

13. The seismic network was reviewed and strengths and
weaknesses were identified.
For both seismic and sea level networks, upgrades must be
identified and prioritized, and data must be made available
in real-time to centers designated for processing and
analysis via satellites that are immediately retransmitted
over the WMO Global Telecommunication System to appropriate
warning centers. A need for the establishment of deep ocean
buoys useful for tsunami monitoring and warning was also
identified, and cable-based systems should also be assessed
as these instruments are important for slumping events and
other events that are not seen in seismic measurements.

The general strategy of the IOTWS was defined to include:
immediate, free and open distribution of raw data from the
observing systems in real-time must be acknowledged as a
founding principle for all regional and global tsunami
warning systems. , since Without suchwithout, both the
timeliness and effectiveness of the system may be severely
compromised and the risk may be greater than would otherwise
be the case. Any network planning should start with
identifying and mapping the tsunami prone areas. This
should be based upon a historical study of earthquake and
tsunami occurrences. It was noted that Mmany of the

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standards that underlie the systems for open data collection
and exchange can be adopted (or adapted) from already
established international systems. A sustained and reliable
Indian Ocean measurement network will require responsible
national and international actions and cooperation,
including sustained investment, national and commitments,
and international cooperation. There is need to develop the
networks within a consistent integrated framework for
systems of systems.

14. In terms of the technological implementation, it was
agreed that the tsunami warning system as a whole should
build on and be a part of a multi-purpose system, since .
The the sustainability of the observing system including
cost effectiveness and efficiency are also enhanced with
such an approach. National and international agencies need
to invest in a coordinated centralization approach to build
an integrated tool for earthquake and tsunami surveillance
and scientific research. The robustness and durability of
the instruments and the system as a whole to the impacts of
the earthquakes needs to be considered.

15. As the tsunami early warning system will be based upon
various data sourcesacquisition and dissemination platforms,
in-situ ocean and land stations, and networks, it is it was
emphasised that the

network of stations for tsunami early warning should be
constantly monitored to guarantee its reliability and
effectiveness.
data must be quality controlled, and archived for post-
event assessment and research.
observation systems should be qualified and certified.
warning criteria and standards need to be established
drawing from recognizing the PTWC protocols (4: advisory,
watch, warning...). .
The legal responsibility for issuing warnings (that may lead
to evacuation) are assumed by national centers (unless other
arrangements are agreed upon by countries).
The group also briefly considered the requirement for
information and technology transfer, from those nations with
capability (including from beyond the region) to Indian
Ocean nations desiring enhanced technical capabilities.

emerging technologies should be considered in the overall
strategy, to ensure the evolution of the system relative to
best practice.

Organizational Aspects
----------------------

16.
The Session on The panel on "Organizational and Practical
al
Arrangements for a Regional Tsunami Warning and Mitigation
System" featured presentations by the national programs of
Chile and Japan. Dr. Charles McCreery, Director Pacific
Tsunami Warning Center, and Dr. Laura Kong, Director,

SIPDIS
International Tsunami Information Center (ITIC) presented
regional dimensions.

17. It was noted that Nnational centers are responsible for
interpreting warning guidance from regional center(s),
issuing local warnings, and issuing alerts for local events,
while regional centers provide efficiency of operations,
access to a larger suite of observations, and sharing of
services. Regional centers also provide serve as a focal
point for mitigation activities, communications between
stakeholders, products (e.g., tsunami travel and height
maps), se services (e.g., testing of communications systems,
expertise exchange, quality control), and can provide backup
functions for national centers. Long-term sustainability -
rRegional commitment and support and support from , national
support, and international support levels can - guarantee
long-term sustainability of regional centersis a
prerequisite for a regional center.

18. Dr. Laura Kong, provided an overview of the ITIC's role
and capabilities. The ITIC described how the ITIC monitors
the international tsunami warning system for the Pacific to
improve operations,; assists member states with technology
transfer,; and provides technical assistance and training to
improve national and community-level preparedness. Dr. Kong
also noted the importance of hazard reduction strategies,
including preparation of inundation maps, evacuation maps,
simulations and drills, to facilitate an effective response
to tsunami warning. ITIC has developed a substantial amount
of training programs and outreach materials that it uses in
its training programs to were offered to help prepare both
national emergency management agencies and local communities
to respond appropriately to tsunami warnings.

19.
Twenty IOC member states offered various levels of support
for the creation of an Indian Ocean tsunami warning system.
No nation rejected the idea, but no nation pledged support
without conditions. India, Indonesia, and Thailand appear to
have the most advanced planning with funding to back their
plans. All three plans are based on the Pacific Ocean
tsunami warning system of an integrated approach of hazard

SIPDIS
assessment, warning guidance, and preparedness with India's
plan being the most comprehensive. Calls for unrestricted
data sharing were voiced by several nations while the plans
presented by India offer international product sharing. Ten
organizations made presentations on their capabilities to
help implement an IO tsunami warning system. The most
promising presentations to make a functional tsunami warning
system were by WMO, IRIS, GLOSS, and GEOSS. If IOC can work
effectively with these organizations the probability of
success is high.


Conclusions of Working Group 2the working group on the
organizational aspects of an IOTWS are were captured
reflected in the CCommuniqu.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and the Japan
Meteorological Agency have agreed to provide interim tsunami
alerts to the region based on existing facilities until
adequate warning capabilities are established within the
region. Four nations in the region (Australia, India,
Indonesia, and Thailand) have plans to establish systems and
capacities to detect and measure tsunamigenic events and
issue appropriate warnings to forecast their impacts. The
products and services of these centers will be made
available to other national centers in the region.
Guidelines addressing the responsibilities of national
centers were developed. In conjunction with the designation
of a national contact point is the necessity for each
country to develop a response plan to warnings.


AWARENESS AND PREPAREDNESS
--------------------------


20. Session 5 The panel addressed on Ttsunami aAwareness
and pPreparedness includrevieweding national preparedness
pPlans (New Zealand and Indonesia), community-based early
warning systems (ISDR, Red Cross), awareness building and
public information (Asian Disaster Reduction Centre), and
institutional capacities for moving forward (UNDP).

21. A The corresponding third working group chaired by
________considered: reviewed (1) risk and vulnerability
assessment; (2) public awareness and education; and (3)
preparedness and emergency response.
To address risk reduction, the the WG 3 group called for
preparation of hazard risk, inundation and evacuation maps
that identify escape routes, safe areas and shelters. The
group acknowledged Oother methods of reducing risks - beyond
the scope of ITSU - includinge land-use planning, structural
interventions (building codes, coastal structures, elevated
shelters), and non-structural interventions (protection,
rehabilitation, and conservation of coastal ecosystems,
including mangroves and coral reefs that help buffer coastal
communities).

22. Working Group Three highlighted the importance of
aAwareness, education, and public outreach as were noted as
essential ingredients in tsunami early warning systems,
using recognizing that innovation and local knowledge to can
be used to build a culture of safety. The group also called
for special attention to building national and local
preparedness and emergency response capacities, with clear
and careful delineation of functions and responsibilities.

A session on the Technical Aspects of TWS was chaired by the
representative from Indonesia who presented some graphical
material on the effects of the recent tsunami and the need
for improvement of monitoring and warning technologies in
the Indian Ocean. The body of the session was made up of
scientific and technical presentations by experts from the
Russian Federation and Japan. The Russian expert presented
statistics on tsunami occurrence and likehoods of tsunami
generation and their severity from earthquakes of various
magnitudes. The Japanese experts covered the current
technologies used in Japan to detect tsunami and issues
warnings, with particular emphasis on the challenges of
warnings of local tsunamis compared to those caused by
distant earthquakes. Their presentations also covered the
factors controlling tsunami height and on-shore run-up. The
Chair of the IGC/ITSU gave the most scientifically
controversial presentation, whichdescribed various "emerging
technologies" that might be applied to tsunami detection and
warning; measuring perturbations in the ionosphere, the use
of infrasound measurements, the use of satellite-based ocean
height measuring systems, and the use of on-shore radar in
tsunami warning systems.

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BEYOND THE INDIAN OCEAN
-----------------------

23. The final session on "The Indian Ocean System within a
Global Framework" provoked substantial debate as to how
other region's tsunami warning systems (e.g., Mediterranean
and Northeast Atlantic, Caribbean and Central West Atlantic,
and Southwest Pacific) would be reflected in the Communiqu.
India and other IO members provided text that limited
examples to areas adjacent to the Indian Ocean, such as
South-East Asia and the South China Sea.

Participating Organizations
--------------------------- SESSION 4

24. Several organizations were invited to make
announcements during the proceedings::

Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADCP) - Described
experience in regional disaster projects and described a
regional TWS that includes earthquake and tsunami
monitoring.

Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization
(CTBTO) - Offered to share data archival technology
Global Earth Observational System of Systems (GEOSS) -
Guy Duchossois described program and presented Tsunami
Communiqu.
GLOSS (IOC global sea level program) - Described
d
current contribution in IO and recommended expansion of real
time reporting stations.
International Maritime Organization (IMO) - Described
how warnings might be disseminated via ships.
Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology -
David Simpson described the standardized, real-time global
seismic network, how it detected the Dec 26 earthquake, and
how it could contribute to a global TWS.
International Telecommunications Union (ITU) -
Described their role in communications for all aspects of
TWS.
UN/ESCAP- - Described capabilities as they relate to a
regional of global TWS.
WMO - Described operational role in world weather
forecasting and recommended that the TWS use their Global
Telecommunications Networks to deliver tsunami warning
information to ION nations.

OLIVER
IOC - Organized meeting and is committed to lead the
development of IO and global TWS.

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