Outcomes from the 2002 Seattle Workshop

On September 21, 2002, a workshop was held on the University of Washington campus for the development of a tsunami scenario simulation program, funded by NSF under Grant CMS-0237039 (Harry Yeh, PI, and Catherine Petroff, Co-PI). Principal attendees were:

Cliff Astill, NSF, DC
Jose Borrero, USC, CA
Dan Cox, OSU, OR
Frank Gonzalez, PMEL, NOAA, WA
Merrick Haller, OSU, OR
Dan Horn, Michigan, MI
Toshitaka Katada, Gunma U, JP
Philip Liu, Cornell, NY
Pat Lynett, TAMU, TX
Kyran Mish, OU, OK
Hal Mofjeld, PMEL, NOAA, WA
Emile Okal, Northwestern, IL
Juan Pestana, Berkeley, CA
Catherine Petroff (Co-PI), UW, WA
Jane Preuss, GeoEngineers, WA
Peter Raad, SMU, TX
Fred Raichlen, Cal Tech, CA
Costas Synolakis, USC, CA
Harry Yeh (PI), UW, WA
Solomon Yim, OSU, OR

The workshop consisted of two phases. As part of the first phase, the entire group heard presentations by researchers on the current state of modeling in their particular research area. The areas included tectonic generation, propagation and runup of tsunamis, structure-infrastructure response, scour, information transmission and evacuation, rescue and recovery, the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program, and economic analyses of tsunami damage. (Note that the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program was initiated in 1996 for the development of state/federal partnership to reduce the impact of tsunamis. The program comprises three federal agencies (NOAA, FEMA, and USGS) and five Pacific States (Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, and California); for more detailed description for its mission, see http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/tsunami-hazard/.)

It was clear from the presentations that although substantive progress has been made in all these areas, the coordination between these disciplines is incidental and not always well organized. For example, the GIS based evacuation simulation presented for Sinclair Inlet in Puget Sound, although based on reasonable inundation levels, is not sufficiently interfaced with the hydrodynamic runup simulation. As another example, some of the numerical simulations of structure-infrastructure response require near field boundary conditions not immediately available from laboratory data.

In the second phase, the discussions focused on the possible integration of simulations into organized scenarios. This phase had a great deal of constructive input from the attendees and the following points were made:

• The decision to go ahead with integrated tsunami scenario simulations was enthusiastically supported.

• Examples of other distributed analysis and simulation systems in scientific research are increasingly abundant.These include areas such as space physics and nuclear arsenal integrity modeling. As such, the tsunami community can take advantage of lessons learned in dealing with difficulties such as data exchange, scalability, research group mechanics and publication rights.

• The maturity of many of the components of integrated simulations appears to be adequate for starting the integration. It was, however noted that a number of areas will require further research before their outcomes can be validated as accurate or reliable.

• In order to initiate, coordinate and develop the community efforts for tsunami scenario simulations, another workshop should be organized.

The group also discussed several caveats to proceeding with simulations that would have to be addresse d by any proposed project. Among these were the following:

• There is a need to proceed quite carefully with preliminary simulation integration and the subsequent reporting of results, since the focus of that effort is to examine the mechanics of linking models from different disciplines and not necessarily the accuracy of the individual components or the resulting product.

• The issue of model accuracy and benchmarking was an important and continuing concern. The mechanisms for insuring accuracy of the integrated simulations need to be provided for in any project plan.

• Since development of an integrated tsunami scenario simulation will eventually involve a number of individual investigators and hence a significant portion of the funding available for tsunami research, the relative roles of basic and applied research were considered a major issue. It was, however noted that the simulations could actually have a synergistic effect on the level of research funding available to study tsunamis and that funding would be sought from a variety of sponsors.

• The researchers who interact closely with communities, hazards planners and emergency managers emphasized the need for modeling actual communities, if not immediately, then as a long term goal. They also noted the importance of visual displays of quantitative information.

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