Supercomputers to predict real-time tsunami damage in Japan | Inquirer Technology
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Supercomputers to predict real-time tsunami damage in Japan

/ 03:54 PM February 22, 2021

TOKYO — A new generation disaster-preparedness system will help predict tsunami damage within 20 to 30 minutes after an earthquake occurs, covering nearly 13,000 kilometers of Pacific coastline from Hokkaido to Kagoshima Prefecture, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

Developed jointly by researchers from Tohoku University, Osaka University, NEC Corp. and other organizations, the system has been designed to instantly distribute tsunami damage forecasts to the national government and other relevant entities in the interest of expediting rescue and recovery efforts.

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Drawing on real-time seismic intensity and tectonic plate movement data recorded by the Japan Meteorological Agency and the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan, supercomputers at the two universities will be able to predict the impact of tsunami on each 30-square-meter swath of coastline, factoring in local topography and city planning to estimate the extent of flooding and the number of buildings lost.

Earlier versions of the system have been operable since 2018. Although the system initially only covered 6,000 kilometers of Pacific coastline from Kagoshima to Shizuoka prefectures, the target area was expanded up to Ibaraki Prefecture for a total of 8,000 kilometers in 2020.

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This year’s shift to cutting edge supercomputers, set to launch in April, will herald a fourfold increase in information processing capacity and allow the system to cover 1.6 times more coastline. Going forward, there has also been talk of expanding the system to model the Sea of Japan coast.

In the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake, transportation and communication networks were severely disrupted, impeding efforts to ascertain the disaster’s toll. By utilizing the predictive system, the government and other agencies may be able to more quickly determine areas where aid is needed and identify routes to get there.

Fujitsu Ltd., together with research partners including Tohoku University, has developed its own AI system that can forecast coastal flooding levels within a few seconds of receiving tsunami data recorded out at sea. Compatible with consumer PCs, the developers hope to make their AI system available to local governments and other interested parties in the next two years or so.

TOPICS: Japan, technology, tsunami
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