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Eumetsat to Make Satellite Available for Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System


Feasibility Study Shows Access Could Be Given Without Delay

EUMETSAT, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, will make access to its satellite that covers the Indian Ocean available to the international community for use in constructing a tsunami warning system in the region.

EUMETSAT operates the Meteosat-5 satellite at 63°East as part of its Indian Ocean Data Coverage (IODC) Service.

In a special meeting this week, EUMETSAT’s management board determined it would be possible to activate a Data Collection Platform (DCP) Acquisition Service over the Indian Ocean limited to the DCP international frequency band. The service could be activated without delay as soon as it was deemed necessary. “The scale of the tragedy demands urgent action and Europe can play a significant role. As we all start to analyse what happened, it is becoming clear that many lives could have been saved with an adequate system in place,” said Dr. Lars Prahm, Director-General of EUMETSAT.

If the service is activated, the satellite could receive and transmit signals from buoys placed in the Indian Ocean, in a warning system similar to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States.

At present, no warning buoys have been deployed in the Indian Ocean, but both European and American officials support an international effort to build a warning programme outside the Pacific region. EUMETSAT is fully prepared to work together with its international partners, including the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), to outline a comprehensive action plan and promptly arrange for its swift implementation.

EUMETSAT’s IODC service over the Indian Ocean uses existing resources for both the space and ground segment, and the cost to EUMETSAT’s member states for activating the Data Collection service would therefore be negligible.

The Indian Ocean service is currently provided by Meteosat-5. Subject to successful launch and commissioning of Meteosat-9 in 2005, Meteosat-7 will be moved to the Indian Ocean to replace Meteosat-5 in mid-2006.

EUMETSAT, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, is an intergovernmental organisation that establishes and maintains operational meteorological satellites for 18 European States (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom). EUMETSAT has signed 11 Cooperating State Agreements. Those with Hungary, Latvia, Croatia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Rumania and the Czech Republic have entered into force whereas the Agreements with Serbia and Montenegro, Bulgaria and Lithuania are to be ratified in the near future.

EUMETSAT is currently operating Meteosat-6, 7 and 8 over Europe and Africa and Meteosat-5 over the Indian Ocean.

The data, product and services from EUMETSAT’s satellites make a significant contribution to weather forecasting and to the monitoring of the global climate.

Anne Taube | alfa
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