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National Science Foundation
ON THE SCENE: INDIA >> MARJORIE LUECK
Map of India.

Indian officials convened a meeting in New Delhi from Jan. 21 and 22, 2005, to assess field data collected after the tsunami and to prepare for future disasters. Nearly 200 scientists, policy makers and government officials attended the "brainstorming" session.


Photo of Cover.

A brochure from the Jan. 21 and 22, 2005 meeting.

Credit: Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi

While researchers rushed to tsunami-devastated sites to gather data after the Indian Ocean tsunami, others reached out to public officials and policy-makers in the region, paving the way for international collaborations. NSF's Office of International Science and Engineering, for example, contacted partner organizations in affected countries shortly after the tragedy. India’s Department of Science and Technology welcomed the efforts, inviting several NSF representatives to participate in the "Brain Storming Session on the Great Tsunami of December 26, 2004," held in New Delhi from Jan. 21-22, 2005.

At the meeting—organized in association with India’s Department of Ocean Development and the Indian National Science Academy—researchers and government leaders worked together to assess field data collected after the tragedy and to prepare for future disasters. Nearly 200 people attended, including several United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) representatives and scientists from India, Canada, Japan, Germany and Russia. NSF program managers Marjorie Lueck, Richard Fragaszy and Eva Zanzerkia and NSF-grantee Costas Synolakis represented the United States.

During three technical sessions, presenters provided an overview of the December 2004 tsunami, put the event into historical context and evaluated existing capabilities in remote sensing, seismology and storm warnings. The information provided background for discussions on creating a regional Indian Ocean tsunami warning system.

Costas Synolakis, director of the Tsunami Research Center at the University of Southern California reported on his post-tsunami, NSF supported field missions to Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia during a talk entitled "Public Awareness/Training and International Cooperation." He championed the development of global disaster warning and response networks and urged India to participate in the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning Center—a UNESO-sponsored multinational effort.

President Abdul Kalam--an aeronautical engineer and India’s first scientifically-trained president--followed the "brainstorming" personally. After the first day, Kalam invited the U.S. delegation and 20 other participants to a meeting with him at the Rashtrapati Bhavan to discuss the session’s progress.

India’s science minister Kapil Sibal concluded the meeting by announcing the government’s intent to install an early warning system on it's coasts by 2007. Plans involve upgrading India’s earthquake monitoring infrastructure, setting up a network to observe the ocean in real time and developing statistical models to study tsunamis. Sibal disclosed that India would not join the UNESCO-lead tsunami warning system but pledged to continue collaborating with foreign experts and regional partners.

Photo of roadside.

The tsunami damaged roads and sidewalks in some coastal cities, including this walkway in Chennai, India.

Credit: Harry Yeh, Oregon State University

Photo of boat in water.

Many boats were swept up and tossed around by the powerful tsunami. In Chennai, India, workers struggled to pull one such vessel out of the harbor.

Credit: Arvind Jaiswal

 
 
 
A Special Report After the Tsunami