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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Safe from killer waves? Good luck!

I read this following news from Singapore with the headline title "We are safe from killer waves" with mixed feelings. It was reporting by Chng Choon Hiong on a two-year study that led to this optimistic conclusion.
FOR Singaporeans who are worried that a tsunami may strike our shores, here's good news: We are safe from killer waves.

A new two-year study has confirmed this.

The height of the tsunami waves if they do reach Singapore will be considerably less than the highest tide (1.5m) here.

In the worst case scenario where the first wave reaches Singapore during highest tide, the water will only move a maximum of 50m inland.

The study, conducted by the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU), was commissioned by the National Environment Agency (NEA) in response to the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami which killed 225,000 people in 11 countries.

The study examines several extreme scenarios of powerful undersea earthquakes and landslides occurring in locations that may result in tsunami waves hitting our shores.

The researchers in the team ran computer simulations to determine the nature of the waves that would hit Singapore under such situations.

The simulations shows that the relatively shallow waters (less than 200m) surrounding Singapore are able to slow down and dissipate the enormous amount of energy carried by these monster waves.

The ample lead time of 10 hours - the estimated time for the waves to reach our shores - allows the authorities to keep track of the event, receive additional information and further improve their confidence on the assessment of the situation, said Professor Chan Eng Soon, Dean of Engineering at NUS.

That was certainly an impressive undertaking. Somehow, I just can not be too enthusiastic about the optimistic conclusion presented. I sincerely hope that they are right. But I also wish that the Singaporeans will not let their guards down too much. We don't know how many different scenarios up the nature's sleeves yet, and no one should put too much faith into those computer models either. May be Singapore is one of the nice places in the world that's not prone to severe Tsunami wave attacks -- but I still will not generalize that to freaque waves. Anyway, enjoy your beach area and good luck!

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