6 November 2019 – The South China Sea Tsunami Advisory Center (SCSTAC) became fully operational on 5 November, the World Tsunami Awareness Day. The Centre will add to the already existing 10 centers that are part of the Global Tsunami Warning System of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC).
The primary mission of SCSTAC is to provide timely advisories on potentially destructive tsunamis to officially designated National Tsunami Warning Centers (NTWCs) and Tsunami Warning Focal Points (TWFPs) in Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Geologically, the South China Sea is located between the convergences of the Earth’s largest tectonic plates (Eurasia, Indo-Australia and Pacific-Philippine Sea plates), thus identified as tsunami prone due to the high seismicity.
SCSTAC is the newest addition to the Pacific Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System, the oldest and largest regional tsunami program. This system provides Tsunami alerts to Pacific countries and territories via the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) hosted by the United States, and the Northwest Pacific Tsunami Advisory Center (NWPTAC) hosted by Japan.
SCSTAC is hosted by the National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center of China and supported by China Earthquake Administration that monitors earthquakes from 116 seismic stations available within the region.
“The South China Sea Tsunami Advisory Center is a new example of China’s contributions to not only the objectives of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goal 14, but also to the well-being and security of humans”, said Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of UNESCO’s IOC during the celebration of 5 November.
Increasing communities’ resilience to tsunamis and other ocean-related hazards is one of the main areas of work of UNESCO’s IOC and will be one of the priority areas for transformative research and development during the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).
“Saving lives and protecting the livelihoods of communities at risk of tsunami requires sustained investment in resilient infrastructure, early warning systems and education”, declared Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General to mark World Tsunami Awareness Day, established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 to develop and promote a global culture of tsunami awareness.
The Tsunami Programme of UNESCO’s IOC coordinates national and regional tsunami early warning services, raising global awareness about effective actions, policies and practices to reduce exposure to Tsunami risks in the Pacific, Indian Ocean, Caribbean, North-Eastern Atlantic, Mediterranean and Connected Sea regions. The IOC also assists Member States through education programmes and regular tsunami communication and evacuation exercises, increasing resilience among citizens and communities around the world.