Second wave

Geophys. Res. Lett. http://dx.doi/10.1029/2011GL049146 (2011)

The 2011 Tohoku earthquake that occurred off the Pacific coast of Japan triggered a devastating tsunami. The tsunami, in turn, generated a series of atmospheric waves, according to an analysis of atmospheric pressure data.

Nobuo Arai of the Japan Weather Association and colleagues examined the impact of the tsunami on atmospheric dynamics, using atmospheric pressure data collected at four barograph stations in and around the Tohoku region during the tsunami. They detected large-scale undulations in pressure in the lower atmosphere following the earthquake. The amplitude of the waves declined with distance from the tsunami source, and the structure of the atmospheric waves mirrored that of waves detected in the ocean by ocean-bottom pressure gauges.

The researchers suggest that the atmospheric waves were generated by the uplift and subsidence of the ocean surface in the tsunami source region. The waves seemed to radiate outwards at a speed of approximately 300 m s−1.


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Armstrong, A. Second wave. Nature Geosci 4, 734 (2011).

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