EXERCISE PACIFIC WAVE 17
A Pacific-wide Tsunami Warning and Enhanced Products Exercise,15-17 February 2017
15 - 17 February 2017
The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO established the International Coordination Group for the Tsunami Warning System in the Pacific (ICG/ITSU) in 1965 in response to the 1960 earthquake off the coast of Chile that generated a tsunami killing 2000 people locally, and hundreds in the far field in Hawaii, Japan, and the Philippines. The main focus of the Group is to facilitate the issuance of timely international alerts, and advocate for comprehensive national programmes in hazard assessment, warning guidance, and preparedness (ITSU Master Plan, 2004; PTWS Medium-Term Strategy 2014-2021, IOC TS 108; PTWS Implementation Plan 2013, vers 4). In 2005, ITSU was re-established as the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Pacific Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (ICG/PTWS).
The US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC), established in 1965 with the start of the Tsunami Warning System in the Pacific, serves as the Tsunami Service Provider (TSP) for the Pacific. In response to Member State requests for additional regional information, Japan began operation of its Northwest Pacific Tsunami Advisory Center (NWPTAC) in March 2005, and in April 2006 expanded on an interim basis to the South China Sea. The NWPTAC, which serves as the TSP for the northwest Pacific, provides timely alerts for earthquakes occurring in the northwest Pacific. As of October 2015, the NWPTAC has issued the advisories for 190 events in total since it started the service in March 2005.
A Pacific-wide tsunami exercise is an effective tool for evaluating the readiness of PTWS countries and to identify changes that can improve its effectiveness. The international tsunami exercises were first conceived and conducted in 2006 by the ICG/PTWS under the leadership of the PTWS Exercises Task Teams with strong contributions from the ITIC, PTWC, and JMA. Altogether there have been six IOC-coordinated international exercises, Exercise Pacific Wave 2006, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016.
The exercises, using a multitude of Pacific scenarios and accompanied by tsunami message products from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, Japan Northwest Pacific Tsunami Advisory Center, and the US National Tsunami Warning Center (formerly West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center), have been used to evaluate the effectiveness of the System and measure the readiness of countries to respond, as national tsunami warning centers and emergency response agencies and the public, to distant and local tsunamis. Exercise Pacific Wave 2011, 2013, and 2015 were additionally used to introduce and obtain feedback, test, and validate the PTWC new enhanced forecast products which became official on 1 October 2014. Exercise Pacific Wave 2016 and 2017 are being used to evaluate experimental NWPTAC Enhanced Products and identify necessary modifications before the Enhanced Products are formally adopted in 2018.
At its 26th session, the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Pacific Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (ICG/PTWS-XXVI, Honolulu, United States of America, 22–24 April 2015) approved the conduct of Exercise Pacific Wave 2017 (PacWave17) during the first Quarter of 2017.