CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
John Barnes of the Mauna Loa Observatory displayed a carbon dioxide chart Friday showing rising levels in Earth's atmosphere at an NOAA conference announcing a yearlong celebration commemorating it 200th anniversary. CLICK FOR LARGE
NOAA seeks faster tsunami solutions
The NOAA, celebrating its 200th anniversary, is trying to quicken detection of tsunamis
Enhancing Hawaii's seismic network to collect better and faster information about tsunami threats is one of the goals this year of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says a key official.
It now takes two to three minutes after an earthquake to collect sufficient data to determine if a dangerous tsunami was generated, said Jeff LaDouce, director, National Weather Service Pacific Region.
"We're trying to get the solution for the location and intensity of earthquakes in the quickest time -- in 90 seconds," LaDouce said in an interview at a recent breakfast meeting launching a yearlong celebration of NOAA's 200th anniversary.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center is one of the many functions of NOAA, which manages more than $70 million annually in Hawaii fishery, oceanic, coastal, climatic and atmospheric programs, LaDouce pointed out.
A 200th-birthday party is planned from 5 to 7 p.m. March 24-25 in Waikiki. NOAA and the Waikiki Improvement Association are co-sponsoring Sunset on the Beach with entertainment, a movie and educational activities free to the public.
Hawaii Girl Scouts will help NOAA volunteers provide information and oversee games and crafts to promote ocean and environmental awareness and family disaster preparedness.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 24-25, NOAA will participate in the Great Hawaiian Folklife Festival at Kapiolani Park, displaying its products and services.
When President Thomas Jefferson started a federal science agency called Survey of the Coast in 1807 to ensure safe maritime commerce, he could not have imagined what would follow in two centuries.
Speaking to NOAA scientists, directors and program managers at the breakfast hosted by the Outrigger Waikiki, LaDouce said Hawaii has the third-largest collection of NOAA facilities outside of its Washington, D.C., headquarters.
It has 20 offices and 500 employees in Hawaii. Pacific-wide, he said, it has more than 30 offices and 700 employees.
"Our day begins and ends in the Pacific," LaDouce said, starting in Guam and ending in American Samoa. "The work we do in Hawaii and the Pacific is an investment in Hawaii's future and the region's."
The National Marine Fisheries Service, National Weather Service Honolulu Forecast Office and Mauna Loa Observatory are just a few of NOAA's many arms.
The agency's diverse activities range from trash to turtles and extend from beneath the sea to the top of Mauna Loa. It has three research ships based here, runs a marine debris program, manages a humpback whale sanctuary with the state and a Pacific sea turtle conservation program.
It maintains an array of array of deep-ocean buoys to collect ocean and atmospheric data and co-manages the world's largest coral habitat, the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.