Saint Lucia Installs Early Warning Systems For Tsunamis

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Press Release:–  As part of the Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project (DVRP) implemented by the Department of Economic Development, three (3) tide gauges were installed by the UK’s National Oceanography Centre (NOC) during the period October 12-22, 2021 at strategic locations along Saint Lucia’s coastline, including the Dennery Fisherman’s Jetty, Soufriere Main Jetty and Port Vieux Fort.

The installations work towards the DVRP’s core objective of reducing vulnerability to natural hazards and climate change impacts.

The network of tide gauges will continuously measure and report the level of the sea and tidal activity. Data from the tide gauges will be publicly available at the website of the Sea Level Station Monitoring Facility (www.ioc-sealevelmonitoring.org) and will be used by a range of local and regional agencies.

The Director of the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), Mrs. Dorine Gustave, noted the installations as an important addition to the Early Warning Systems (EWS) on island.

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“The aim is to ensure that all vulnerable communities are equipped with EWS and the installation of tide gauges in these three communities is a welcome initiative.”

The data will contribute to the Caribbean tsunami early warning system to ensure that coastal residents have the maximum notice possible of life-threatening tidal waves which can be triggered by earthquakes. This application is important as Saint Lucia is in an active earthquake zone.

Speaking further to the application of the tide gauge data, Permanent Secretary of the Department of Economic Development, Mr. Claudius Emmanuel, explained that information gathered from these measurements can also be used to help design coastal defences and other adaptation measures to mitigate the impact of storm surge and sea level rise which are recognized as significant climate change-related threats to coastal communities.

Scientists from NOC, one of the world’s leading oceanographic institutions, warned that the frequency of coastal inundation due to storm surges is increasing and global mean sea level is likely to rise by up to 0.23m (0.75ft) by 2050 and 0.77m (2.5ft) by 2100, based upon the projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Professor Angela Hatton, Chief Scientist at the NOC, explained: “These sea level changes will particularly affect low-lying communities, making the need for better data to inform coastal adaptation measures a priority for Small Island Developing States like Saint Lucia, where there are significant investments in infrastructure, tourism and housing in low-lying coastal areas.”

Beyond these disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation applications, Chief Surveyor, Department of Physical Development and Urban Renewal, Mr. John Labadie, explained that the tide gauges will also support safe navigation and enhancement of Saint Lucia’s geodetic network, allowing for advancements in land surveying and mapping.

“Simply put, the installation of the tide gauges will provide the Department of Physical Planning as well as other agencies with the opportunity to observe the vertical motion of both the sea surface and coastline relative to a vertical datum.”

The datum, mean sea level, is the basis for elevation in any country and is used as a starting or reference point for maps, property boundaries, construction surveys and other similar work.

The installations will complement the tide gauge at Ganter’s Bay which was installed in October 2016 by the NOC. Soufriere, Dennery and Vieux Fort were identified as preferred locations for the installation of supplementary tide gauges during a preliminary site survey conducted by the NOC which assessed seven locations around the coast.

Fabrication and installation of the tide gauges have been significantly delayed due to national lockdowns and travel restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Various public awareness activities are being rolled out to inform residents and other stakeholders from the respective communities of the tide gauge installations and their benefits.

The NOC team observed national COVID-19 protocols in conducting the installations and adhered to the necessary environmental and social safeguard requirements. Representatives from the Department of Physical Development and Urban Renewal supported installations.

Once installed, the Saint Lucia Meteorological Services will assume responsibility for operation and maintenance of the tide gauges.

As part of the installation, training was available to officers from the Meteorological Services and key stakeholder agencies, including the Department of Physical Development and Urban Renewal, the National Emergency Management Organization, Department of Sustainable Development, Department of Fisheries and the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority.

The DVRP wishes to thank the various organizations that have supported the installations, including the stakeholder agencies above, the Saint Lucia Fire Services, Soufriere Regional Development Foundation, Soufriere Marine Management Association, and the Dennery Fishermen’s Co-operative Society Ltd.

Headline photo: Tide Gauge installed at the Soufriere Main Jetty, Saint Lucia. Image courtesy DVRP

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Our Editorial Staff at St. Lucia Times is a team publishing news and other articles to over 200,000 regular monthly readers in Saint Lucia and in over 150 other countries worldwide.

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