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Tsunamis: How nature keeps surprising scientists
Elena Suleimani, Research Analyst, UAF-GI
The two shocking tsunami disasters of the 21st century have forever changed the definition of the word “tsunami.” Its meaning was elevated from just an infrequent though potentially dangerous natural phenomenon to one capable of inflicting hundreds of thousands of fatalities and reaching every coastline on Earth. While the unrealized geophysical hazard was the major reason for the absence of a tsunami warning system and tsunami education in the Indian Ocean region and, as a result, the incomprehensible number of fatalities in 2004, the major cause of the high casualty rate in the 2011 Tohoku tsunami was failure to evacuate. The shift in paradigm caused by the tragic lessons learned from these recent catastrophic tsunamis is now used to reduce the potential damage and fatalities from future disasters.