Friday, April 25, 2014

How Tsunamis Work

Do You Understand Tsunamis?

Capture from the Ted-Ed instructional video on tsunamis.

Ted-ed provides another excellent animation of tsunamis. We learn how they form, what they do, and what can be done about them.

As usual with TED-ed animations, this one has a nice mix of general and very specific information which should be information for just about any casual viewer. These forces of nature kill tens of thousands of people and, regardless of whether you live near the coast, could directly impact your life someday (as the people of Japan found out after Fukushima). In any event, we can pretty much guarantee that you will see the word used in a news headline down the road.

The funny thing about tsunamis is that they are impossible to predict, and even after they occur and the wave begins, their actual effects when they reach land are also are difficult to predict. Sometimes, a seemingly horrible underwater earthquake will cause little damage (South America, 2014), while other times, one with just the right formation will take out a huge swathe of a country (Fukushima).

Tsunamis are a fact of life, and interest in them spikes every time there is a tsunami. So this is an evergreen topic. However, people also tend to forget about tsunamis once they have happened and they are no longer in the news. It is good to learn about them so you are prepared for next time.

From the web page:
The immense swell of a tsunami can grow up to 100 feet, hitting speeds over 500 mph -- a treacherous combination for anyone or anything in its path. Alex Gendler details the causes of these towering terrors and explains how scientists are seeking to reduce their destruction in the future. 
Lesson by Alex Gendler, animation by Augenblick Studios.
Katsushika Hokusai

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