Christopher Moore

Tsunami Group, Research Scientist

Christopher Moore was in the last year of his undergraduate degree in physics when he did an internship at the Lamont-Doherty lab with a chemical oceanography group headed by Wally Broecker. Nearly swayed by the keen, enthusiastic group, he turned down an offer to do his graduate work in chemistry at Columbia fearing six years in New York City would scar him for life, and stuck with physics for his graduate path at the University of Washington's School of Oceanography.

Chris started out at JISAO looking at mixing due to tidally-forced internal waves, had a long-term project in scientific visualization, changed focus again to coupling ocean and atmospheric models to study the mixed-layer effects due to hurricane tracks, and showed his fickle nature by accepting an offer with the Tsunami group after the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. Now a part of theNOAA Center for Tsunami Research, he manages a small group of quirky modelers and tries his best to keep them happy and productive.

Chris started out taking the model that NOAA uses for tsunami forecasting (the Method of Splitting Tsunamis, or "MOST" model), and creating a software solution that allows a user to access forcing files over the internet to run MOST remotely. This interface, known as the Community Model Interface for Tsunami (ComMIT), was NOAA's answer to the United Nations call for the United States to provide modeling expertise to Indian Ocean nations after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. Over the past five years, Chris has taught ten ComMIT workshops overseas, with attendees from over 28 countries, mainly focused on the Indian Ocean, but also including Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Spain, Portugal, France, England and Italy.

Chris' other responsibilities include contributions to NOAA's tsunami forecast system that the MOST model is the heart of. This new system was only recently installed at NOAA's Tsunami Warning Centers, and it was at the Center located in Hawaii, during a routine meeting, when the alarms went off. When we walked through the door to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) the morning of September 29th, 2009, the lead watch-stander said a magnitude Mw=8.0 earthquake had just struck, and held out a chair for Chris, and his boss Vasily Titov, to operate the MOST forecast system (New York Times article). The system proved a vital tool, and offered PTWC the ability to downgrade warnings, and offer precise wave heights and inundation estimates to all threatened U.S. communities and coastlines.

Chris' current task is to port the MOST model to the operational supercomputers at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, where NOAA weather and hurricane models are run, so that the entire suite of high-resolution non-linear models that cover all threatened U. S. regions can be run automatically in mere minutes from the first sign of tsunamigenic earthquake activity (more likely to trigger a tsunami), and results can be passed quickly to Warning Centers across the country and the globe.

In his free time, Chris enjoys wooden sailboats, gardening, wooden sailboats, mountaineering with his wife and two children, wood sailboats, knitting, fly fishing, and wooden sailboats. He is known to occasionally compete in the JISAO cross country ski team Wednesday evening time trials on weird skis, and he's been talked into attempting his first half-Ironman triathlon in October 2011.