2005 – 2011


The German concept behind the establishment of a tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean is based on different types of sensor systems. In about 90 % of all cases a tsunami is generated by an earthquake, but volcanic eruptions and landslides may also be the triggering events. The concept aims at obtaining indicators of a tsunami and its dimension by analyzing different measurements at a very early stage.

While a tsunami wave in the wideness of the sea spreads out with a speed up to 700 km/h, in the region under consideration a period of about 20 minutes elapses between the wave's generation and the first contact with the Indonesian mainland. In this time frame the sensors which will be installed at different locations within the contemplated  propagation areas will rapidly detect abnormal deviations (anomalies).

The sensors of the Tsunami Early Warning System include seismometers, GPS instruments, tide gauges and buoys as well as ocean bottom pressure sensors.

In a central warning center in Indonesia noteworthy sensor data are immediately verified with a multitude of pre-tailored tsunami simulations in order to derive and deliver only trustworthy warnings.

By involving local scientists and technicians in the framework of a capacity building program and by targeted actions to raise awareness of a tsunami threat, a long-term strategy to prevent disastrous loss of life is to be devised and implemented.

GITEWS is a project of the German government for reconstruction of the tsunami-prone region of the Indian Ocean. It is being carried out by a consortium of eight institutions:
GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam (GFZ), Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), German Aerospace Center (DLR), GKSS Forschungszentrum Geesthacht, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), Konsortium Deutsche Meeresforschung (KDM), Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences (IFM-GEOMAR), United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS).