Tsunamis are known to be a risk on the West Coast of the United States, which is influenced by the volcanic Pacific Rim that can stir deadly waves. But the East Coast?
According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the East Coast also needs to prepare, and the federal agency has prepared high-resolution digital elevation models for three important coastal areas Long Island, NY; Atlantic City, NJ; and Daytona Beach, FL and the near-shore underwater landscape.
Tsunamis are a real threat to coastal communities across the world, including the United States, said Lisa Taylor, NOAA NGDC project manager. Developing coastal digital elevation models is one of a series of important collaborative efforts within NOAA to create the best possible Tsunami Warning System for the country.
These maps are necessary to accurately forecast flood risk from tsunamis, which occur after off-shore earthquakes. In the past two years, NOAA has mapped 20 U.S. coastal communities, and it plans to build 50 more in the coming years.
Near the shoreline, all tsunamis are sensitive to minor variations in seafloor and land topography, increasing in height as they approach the coast, said Barry Eakins, a research scientist with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, which collaborated with NOAA on the project. A better understanding of these variables is critical to predicting how a tsunami will flood coastal communities.
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