How Japan is predicting tsunamis
By Nicolas Zahn
Japan, and in particular the big cities along its coast, remain at danger of future tsunamis. And while the government tries various approaches to limit the potential damage, like building sea walls, the fight against tsunamis continues.
One city that is particularly at danger is the city of Kawasaki. It sits next to a major fault line underneath the Nankai Trough, where historically earthquakes have produced damaging tsunamis. It’s also located just south of Tokyo, close to one of the most densely populated parts of the country. The impact of a tsunami here would be huge, making it an ideal place to test new approaches for disaster response.
Japanese tech company Fujitsu is trialling artificial intelligence in Kawasaki to predict tsunamis and help local governments shape disaster response plans. The initiative is a public-private collaboration with the local government and academic institutions.
To improve the quality of the predictions, the project combines two simulations: incoming tsunamis and evacuation behaviour. The tsunami flooding simulation is based on high-resolution modelling technology that relies on supercomputers to accurately reproduce the flood dynamics. Using observational data, for example, from off-shore sensors the simulation estimates factors like the wave height and the arrival time.