Real-Time Tsunami Prediction made by Artificial Intelligence


Instant tsunami predictions, risks’ and consequences’ assessment, floods’ predictions – all this can be done by artificial intelligence, that was created using the world’s fastest supercomputer.

“Remember the earthquake. When you feel an earthquake, remember the tsunami. When you see the tsunami, run to the high slope.” A dictum, immortalized in stone, can often be found on the many steles on the Japanese coast.

When a tsunami hit the east coast of Japan in 2011, a standard warning system, which consisted of buoys, estimated the size of the oncoming wave at just 3 meters. In fact, a deadly 9 magnitude earthquake then triggered a tsunami wave that reached 50 meters in some places.

Fujitsu Lab has developed a tsunami forecasting system using artificial intelligence. Scientists from Japan used the Fugaku supercomputer, the most powerful computer in the world, capable of processing billions of data per second.

To train the system, we used data on the shape of sea waves at the time of the earthquake. 20,000 possible tsunami development scenarios were calculated. Over time, AIs have been trained to predict tsunamis in near real time.

Now, in case of an earthquake, relief agencies can take proactive steps to evacuate if needed. Tsunami waveform data is simply entered into the system. This allows predicting the extent of flooding, as well as quickly obtaining detailed forecasts of possible flooding for specific areas.

By the way, trained on the super-powerful Fugaku, the new forecasting system works on ordinary computers, starting up in seconds. This will allow, without cost or procrastination, quickly create a real-time flood forecasting system.

The AI system was tested by creating a tsunami model in Tokyo Bay. Accurate forecasts were obtained for various tsunami scenarios, and the process of calculating the data took only a few seconds.

The Japanese coastal city keeps the parable of how its mayor saved residents from the fatal tsunami wave. Feeling the earthquake, he realized that he would not have time to warn people on the shore of the danger. Then he ran upstairs, where the harvested rice crop lay in the granary and set it on fire. People, having seen the burning supplies, rushed to extinguish the fire and survived.

The formation of a tsunami is primarily associated with seismic movements at the bottom, landslides (including underwater ones), and underwater volcanic eruptions.

Approaching the coast, the tsunami speed decreases and the wave height increases. Tsunami rarely hits, its progress more often resembles a rapid tide. The distance the wave floods the land depends on the geometry of the coast and the strength of the tsunami.

If you are traveling where tsunamis are possible, it is very important to prepare for them. Don’t panic, be alert to warning systems, and remember three signs of an impending tsunami: tremors of the earth underfoot; water that starts to recede; a loud roar coming from the ocean. The faster you get away from the shore and the higher you go, the better.

If you are on a yacht at sea during a tsunami, then you should not rush to the port, the waves are not so noticeable on the water. And vice versa, in a marina, events can develop unpredictably. To prevent the yacht from being smashed on the shore, if there is enough time, it is better to go to sea, especially if such instructions have been received.

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