Marine Exploration Weekend

JISAO creates waves at Pacific Science Center's Marine Exploration Weekend

Mick Spillane showing tsunami demonstration to studentsJISAO scientists from the tsunami research group talked with Pacific Science Center visitors about the science behind tsunamis during Marine Exploration Weekend including current research in tsunami forecast and warning systems. JISAO researchers created a wave box for the event that allowed kids to generate their own tsunami while a laptop computer provided internet access to online animations from the NOAA Center for Tsunami Research showing how tsunami waves propagate as they travel across the ocean.

JISAO scientist Mick Spillane observed that "many of the kids were quite computer conversant and enjoyed clicking around in the interactive material." A benefit of which was that "it sometimes freed up the adults accompanying the kids to have a more in-depth [discussion about] what we do."

On display was a model DART (Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis) buoy. The buoys are located at strategic positions throughout the ocean and are used for early detection in the forecasting of tsunamis. DART is a real-time tsunami monitoring system developed by NOAA and JISAO scientists at the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle.

JISAO scientists showed edited footage of the Indian Ocean tsunami to illustrate what a tsunami event really looks like—not the towering curling wave seen in movies—and to provide a chance to talk about the importance of "vertical evacuation." Vertical evacuation is a technique for bringing people to safety by having them "go up" in buildings. Several visitors said "they would think twice before risking getting stuck in a traffic jam trying to leave the area" during a tsunami warning. While young children had fun making waves in the JISAO tsunami simulator, older kids and adults learned about safety issues and the physics of tsunami generation and propagation.

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