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Tsunami Risk Modelling - from a Beach to the Globe

Tsunami Risk Modelling - from a Beach to the Globe



Andreas Schäfer


Tsunamis are among the most devastating natural disasters in human history. Their occurrence is rare and sudden. Recent events were surprising and caused major losses for the affected coast lines. The quantification of tsunami hazard and risk is now more important than ever and covers 4 key questions:

  • How often do strong tsunamis occur?
  • How can event uncertainties be quantified?
  • How to reduce the computational demand to make the wave simulation more efficient?
  • How to quantify tsunami risk in regards of e.g. annual economic and social losses?

These 4 questions have been a primary focus in this study. First, considering earthquake-triggered tsunamis, the return period of megathrust earthquakes (Mw>8.0) is estimated using plate motion modelling and earthquake statistics. Furthermore, each event on its own provides major intra-event uncertainty when taking its specific slip distribution into account which has a major impact on the resulting wave patterns. Those are simulated using a numerically advanced GPU-based shallow water wave equation solver. Loss metrics can be estimated based on the lessons learned from the tsunamis since 2004. All those components have been combined into a globally applicable tsunami hazard and risk modelling framework. Its quality and limitations are discussed on various test cases and case studies.