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Published:December 11th, 2011 15:15 EST
The Tsunami that Hit Japan Earlier this Year Could Have Doubled in Size

The Tsunami that Hit Japan Earlier this Year Could Have Doubled in Size

By Ron G Anselm


It`s a warm and sunny day with temperatures in the low to mid seventies. You decide to grab your boogie board and head for the beach. The forecast calls for a thirty-percent chance of showers but who cares? You`re going to hit the beach, paddle out to nowhere and catch the first wave that rolls in like a satin sheet with smooth as silk ripples which hopefully will turn out to be the wave that took you for the ride of your life.

You walk on the white sand feeling the coarse and finely grained sand under your feet as your toes become sand collectors. You come to the edge of the water and dive right in as if you want to just go for it to just feel the shock of cold water all over your body all at once. You slide onto your boogie board and start to paddle towards the horizon. Small little wave roll underneath you as if you were a giant ironing board rolling over mountains. You decide to take a look back at the beach after a few minutes of paddling and find everyone looks like little ants because you lost track of time for a few minutes and just kept paddling out to sea. You stop and sit on your board, legs dangling on each side in the greenish and cool ocean water. You are waiting for the next wave to catch to hop on it as if it will be a giant bird about to take you in flight and for the ride of your life.

You sit for a few minutes listening to the sea gulls fight each other for their next meal and feel the cool ocean breeze on the back of your neck. You sit there losing yourself in thought and enjoying darkening your tan as the sun beats down on you like a big blanket covering a baby.

You look behind you to see if the next large wave is coming yet only to see the small choppy ones as they head towards you like you were a pedestrian standing in the one-way lane of traffic. You continue sitting on your boogie board, eyes closed and waiting for the perfect wave to roll in.

As you sit there you hear the buzzing of a small mosquito as it makes its way past your left ear. You continue to enjoy the day when suddenly you all hell breaks loose. Your eyes open wide as if you were just awakened out of a dead sleep and you fell the recently calm water become a raging whirlpool. You grab your boogie board and lay face down on it prepared or anything. You look at the beach and see everyone running around like confused mice and see the ground shake violently from side to side. You suddenly realize this is not a scene from a Hollywood movie but you are living the reality of a large earthquake.

You look at the once scenic beach homes lined up like perfectly place dominoes in a row become finely grained piles of rubbish as they collapse under the violently shaking ground. The ocean starts to come to life as waves of water go from little ripples to large waves with white crests. After a few minutes of chaos things start to calm down. Your adrenaline slows as your pulse starts to calm. You catch your breath and start to once again relax. You look around as the confusion starts to come to order and you start asking yourself questions of What just happened? " Just as things calm down suddenly you hear what sounds like you were sitting in a strong wind tunnel with no hearing protection. You get that sinking feeling once again and you look back behind you. Yep, you`re e perfect wave you were waiting on is definitely perfect, just a little larger than you were expecting.

You start to paddle with every ounce of strength you have to try to beat the approaching wave the size of a large mountain to the beach. Do you succeed?

This is what it would probably feel like if you were at the beach during the initial earthquake and then the following tsunami that hits certain parts of the world as we remember the one that hit Japan in March of this year that caused so much destruction.  There have been a lot of opinions or in science we refer to those opinions as hypothesis or educated guesses as to why the tsunami that rocked Japan like a 1979 Van Halen concert was so large?

Scientist have discovered from that one tsunami that in some cases and in various parts of the world where tsunamis are as prevalent as hot and sunny days in the south that tsunamis can now merge together to form one large tsunami. Data from NASA and European radar satellites captured at least two wave fronts that day the tsunami hit Japan. The fronts merged to form a single, double-high wave far out at sea. This wave was capable of traveling long distances without losing power. Ocean ridges and undersea mountain chains pushed the waves together along certain directions from the tsunami`s origin.

One of the hardest things to predict is a tsunami. It is like trying to predict the lottery. With this data that was gathered by NASA and NOAA              (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration) the day the Tsunami sped across the open sea and hit Japan like an out of control freight train they will now be able to come a little closer on ways that they can predict tsunamis. You ask how?

The data collected that day from the NASA satellite showed multiple tsunamis heading in various directions. The satellite that caught these tsunamis just at the right moment which by the way is a billion in one chance that a satellite catches a tsunami in motion, the satellite carries on it what is known as a radar altimeter which is used for measuring sea level changes to a pin point accuracy caught each tsunami at various locations which then those tsunamis merged into one proved this hypothesis to be true that tsunamis can merge together to form one large wave of water.

NASA scientists commented on this by saying, "We can use what we learned to make better forecasts of tsunami danger in specific coastal regions anywhere in the world, depending on the location and the mechanism of an undersea quake," (, 2011) The way they can do this is by looking at a topography map which is a map of the ocean floor. It shows various mountain, ridges, etc. and the overall landscape beneath the sea. So, the regions under the ocean that are mountainous will be the regions that have the highest chances of merging tsunamis thus will also be the regions in more of harm`s way of greater destruction from future tsunamis. Guess I won`t be buying any beach front property in those locations.

"Tools based on this research could help officials forecast the potential for tsunami jets to merge," Song said. "This, in turn, could lead to more accurate coastal tsunami hazard maps to protect communities and critical infrastructure." (, 2011)

This is a good thing because this will give people living in these regions more time to evacuate if a major earthquake should hit. So, the next time you are at the beach jet skiing or trying to find the perfect wave to take the ride of your life on make sure to not only bring the sun screen but to have a plan to hold on tight to your boogie board if you should get caught in a tsunami that merged into one because it will turn out to be the ride of your life.