COAST CITIES — For the first time, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association scientists have demonstrated that tsunamis in the open ocean can change sea surface texture in a way that can be measured by satellite-borne radars. The finding could provide improved detection and forecasting of tsunami intensity and direction at the ocean surface.
This new research challenges previously held beliefs that tsunamis are too subtle in open-ocean to be seen from the surface.
Oleg Godin of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, in Boulder, Colo., developed a theory and began research after accumulating video footage and written accounts of shadows before a tsunami hits.
“We’ve found that roughness of the surface water provides a good measure of the true strength of the tsunami along its entire leading edge,” Godin said. “This is the first time that we can see tsunami propagation in this way across the open ocean.”
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