Articles | Volume 11, issue 3
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 11, 741–749, 2011

Special issue: The GITEWS Project (German-Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning...

Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 11, 741–749, 2011

Review article 09 Mar 2011

Review article | 09 Mar 2011

GPS water level measurements for Indonesia's Tsunami Early Warning System

T. Schöne1, W. Pandoe2, I. Mudita2, S. Roemer1,*, J. Illigner1, C. Zech1, and R. Galas3 T. Schöne et al.
  • 1Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ, Potsdam, Germany
  • 2Badan Pengkajian Dan Penerapan Teknologi (BPPT), Jakarta, Indonesia
  • 3Institut für Geodäsie und Geoinformationstechnik, TU Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  • *now at: Norwegian Mapping Authority, Norwegian Hydrographic Service, Stavanger, Norway

Abstract. On Boxing Day 2004, a severe tsunami was generated by a strong earthquake in Northern Sumatra causing a large number of casualties. At this time, neither an offshore buoy network was in place to measure tsunami waves, nor a system to disseminate tsunami warnings to local governmental entities. Since then, buoys have been developed by Indonesia and Germany, complemented by NOAA's Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis (DART) buoys, and have been moored offshore Sumatra and Java. The suite of sensors for offshore tsunami detection in Indonesia has been advanced by adding GPS technology for water level measurements.

The usage of GPS buoys in tsunami warning systems is a relatively new approach. The concept of the German Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System (GITEWS) (Rudloff et al., 2009) combines GPS technology and ocean bottom pressure (OBP) measurements. Especially for near-field installations where the seismic noise may deteriorate the OBP data, GPS-derived sea level heights provide additional information.

The GPS buoy technology is precise enough to detect medium to large tsunamis of amplitudes larger than 10 cm. The analysis presented here suggests that for about 68% of the time, tsunamis larger than 5 cm may be detectable.