Computer modeled tsunami inundation from a great Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake for the coastal community of Ocean Shores, WA. Credit: NOAA Center for Tsunami Research

The National Disaster Preparedness Training Center (NDPTC) and the University of Hawaiʻi’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning (DURP) are sponsoring a workshop on the revolutionary Community Model Interface for Tsunami (ComMIT) tool. The workshop will be held at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa campus from January 5–9.

The ComMIT tool was developed in the aftermath of the deadly 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami after officials identified the need for accessible modeling tools. ComMIT enables government agencies and others in the coastal region to run tsunami models, using data from local or remote databases with an internet-enabled interface. This internet-based approach also creates a virtual, regional and global community of modelers using the same tools and approaches to understand tsunami threats; all of which are capable of sharing information and insights among themselves.

Attendees to this by invitation only ComMIT tool workshop will gain a basic understanding of tsunami science, the methodology behind the tsunami modeling, the data requirements to model the impact of tsunamis and run scenario-based exercises and perform a hazard assessment of a coastal community. The workshop is also being used by NDPTC and NOAA to design and develop a FEMA certified training course to assist emergency managers, first responders,\ and others involved in planning for tsunami hazards and other coastal hazards around the world. The intent of the training is not only to increase awareness, but also to improve preparedness by being able to use these models to assess risk, plan better, and increase the resilience of coastal communities.

This inaugural training workshop is by invitation only, but includes foreign faculty from Japan and Indonesia, University of Hawaiʻi researchers working in the area of disaster risk reduction, and University of Hawaiʻi students, as well as observers from the tsunami warning, outreach, and training community. Future training offerings will be made open to a much larger audience. University student participants will have the opportunity to earn three hours of graduate level credit upon completion of an additional tsunami disaster risk resiliency research project.

The workshop instruction will be led by Vasily Titov and Christopher Moore, who developed ComMIT. Titov is the director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Center for Tsunami Research and has been the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory’s (PMEL) senior tsunami modeler since 1997. After earning his degree in mathematics, Titov went to the University of Southern California where he earned a PhD in coastal and ocean engineering with an emphasis on tsunami modeling. Moore is a physical oceanographer at the NOAA Center for Tsunami Research. He received a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1992 and a master’s in Physical Oceanography from the University of Washington in 1996 where he worked on internal wave generation in submarine canyons with Barbara Hickey.

“This is an excellent opportunity for us to collaborate with NOAA’s PMEL in furthering knowledge and applications of tsunami science and modeling,” said NDPTC Executive Director Karl Kim, who also is a UH Mānoa urban and regional planning professor. “In Hawaiʻi, tsunamis have killed more people than all other natural hazards combined. We need to understand not just the generation and propagation of tsunamis, but their impact, especially in coastal, urban communities. This course will help us to better plan for and mitigate the potentially devastating effects of tsunamis.”