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>> The Big Picture: NOAA's Role and Who Does What?

NOAA's tsunami mission is to provide reliable tsunami forecasts and warnings and to promote community resilience.
See NOAA's Tsunami Program 2008–2017 Strategic Plan.

NOAA has primary responsibility for providing tsunami warnings to the Nation, and a leadership role in tsunami observations, research. Blue boxes in the diagram indicate NOAA responsibilities.

Database/Archive Tsunami resilient community Federal response plan FEMA mitigation Education training outreach Inundation and evacuation maps State emergency managers and geotechnical Forecasts and warnings NOAA tsunami warning centers Seismic activity Sea height observations Forecast models Inundation modeling studies NOAA models Tsunami sources and bathymetry topography
Blue Boxes indicate NOAA responsibilties.
Square boxes indicate organizations, rounded boxes indicate data and products.

Hazard Assessment:

The USGS monitors earthquakes through a network of seismic detectors. The States also monitor seismic activity. This infomation is critical to understanding when a Tsunami wave might be generated.

The USGS and NOAA's National Ocean Service have responsibilities for providing ocean bathymetry, coastlines and topograhy. This information is critical to understanding how and where a Tsunami wave will come ashore.

NOAA Research develops models that forecast tsunami's and create tsunami inundation maps. NOAA Research provides the foreast models to the NOAA's Weather Service forecasters and the inundation models and maps to the State and national planners and emergency managers. This information is critical to issuing warnings to communities at risk.

NOAA's National Weather Service promotes tsunami hazard preparedness through Tsunami Ready, an active collaboration among Federal, state and local emergency management agencies, the public, and the NWS tsunami warning system.


NOAA monitors sea height through a network of buoys and tide gauges (NOAA Research/Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, NOAA Weather Service/National Data Buoy Center, and NOAA National Ocean Service). This information is critical to understanding the height the Tsunami wave will be when it comes ashore.

NOAA Tsunami Warning Centers use observations of seismic activity and sea height with forecast models and issue Watches and Warnings where appropriate.


A Tsunami resilient community is educated about Tsunami risks, has plans for securing property and evacuating people in the event of a forecast or warning, and maintains an alertness and readiness to respond to forecasts and warnings.

State emergency managers use inundation maps together with information about civil infrastructure, and make effective plans for responding to a Tsunami forecast or warning, using guidance from the National Response Plan and FEMA. Emergency planning includes educating the community about the danger, and informing them of appropriate response to forecasts and warnings.

Once a Tsunami has occurred, FEMA coordinates measures to mitigate the damage.

More Information:

Organizations Involved:

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