GITEWS is a tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean, developed as a German-Indonesian joint project.
The project itself started in 2005 as part of the reconstruction aid for those areas for Southeast Asia which had been destroyed by the tsunami. The project objective is to put in place a network of measuring devices, all of which will provide data for an early detection of tsunamis.
In 90 percent of all cases, tsunamis are caused by submarine earthquakes. On the open sea, the resulting waves move at the speed of a passenger plane. Reaching the shore, they will mount up metres high and cause massive destruction. As the waves move towards the coast at high speed, there is very little time to issue a warning: In the Indonesian region, the first waves will reach the shore within 20 to 30 minutes after the seaquake.
GITEWS consists of several components: Land stations measure the magnitude and localize the epicentre of the seaquake; tide gauges provide data on the water level; buoys measure sea level and air pressure. They also forward the data supplied by pressure sensors at the ocean floor. All information is transmitted to a warning centre and automatically compared to previously calculated computer models. This will enable GITEWS to provide fast and reliable predictions about when the waves will reach the shore, and how high they will be by then. A key component of the project is the training of Indonesian scientists and engineers, as eventually they will run the system independently.