HomeTechUK partner with New Zealand and Denmark to advance tsunami warning systems...

UK partner with New Zealand and Denmark to advance tsunami warning systems and quantum tech


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A collaborative project between the UK and New Zealand is set to create an advanced earthquake and tsunami warning system.

The £750,000 joint research project will leverage underwater fibre optic cables to improve earthquake and tsunami warning capabilities, an innovation that could benefit millions worldwide.

The project could revolutionise ocean monitoring, providing coastal communities with extra time to prepare for devastating natural disasters.

The agreement will be announced at the OECD Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy Ministerial in Paris.

Additionally, the UK will also announce a partnership with Denmark at the OECD to combine efforts in quantum technology research and innovation.

UK Science Minister Andrew Griffith said: “Global issues require global collaboration, which is why we need to build more and stronger partnerships on science and research with like-minded nations, just like the ones I am delighted to announce with New Zealand and Denmark today.

“That shared endeavour is precisely what we will focus on with colleagues from across the OECD to ensure we can all benefit from the improvements to health and wealth that science and innovation promise to deliver.

“Bringing the UK and New Zealand’s brightest minds together to overhaul how we give crucial advance warning of tsunamis could save thousands of lives.

“This work proves the value of breakthrough technologies like quantum, and the international teamwork is crucial to harnessing them. The UK’s plans for closer work together on quantum with Denmark reinforces this even further.”

Why early tsunami warning systems are essential

Tsunamis, massive waves triggered by underwater earthquakes or landslides, pose a serious threat to coastal communities. Early tsunami warning systems are vital lifelines in these regions, offering precious time for evacuation and preparation.

Every minute gained is critical, as tsunamis can travel incredibly fast and strike with devastating force. The effectiveness of tsunami warning systems is undeniable.

Studies show a clear link between early warnings and reduced death tolls. In the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, for instance, regions with established warning systems fared significantly better.

Beyond saving lives, these systems also minimise property damage and economic loss. Timely evacuations allow people to move valuables and secure their homes. This translates to faster recovery and a smoother return to normalcy after the disaster.

Advancing natural disaster preparedness

The UK will invest £750,000 via the International Science Partnerships Fund to enable collaboration between UK and New Zealand researchers.

The project will focus on evolving technology developed at the UK’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL) involving quantum systems.

The technique utilises telecommunication fibre optic cables already installed in the seabed to detect earthquakes and ocean currents in a method known as optical interferometry.

© shutterstock/Laiotz

The initiative will explore whether these cables can accurately provide an early tsunami warning to coastal communities when tremors occur.

The technology will be trialled between Australia and New Zealand in the Pacific Ocean – an area where earthquakes and tsunamis are common.

A previous study using a fibre optic cable running almost 6,000 kilometres from the UK to Canada demonstrated the technology’s success.

Investing in quantum research

Expanding its global quantum research network, the UK will also solidify its ties with Denmark in Paris through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

Denmark’s prominence in quantum research makes it an ideal partner for the UK. Strengthening this collaboration will offer researchers from both nations optimal prospects to engage in groundbreaking projects, particularly in fields like transportation and life sciences.

Denmark Minister of Higher Education and Science, Christina Egelund, added: “The UK is a very attractive partner in the quantum field, with world-class research environments and great investments.

“With the new MoU, we are bringing Denmark’s quantum strategy to a higher international level. Quantum technology holds enormous potential to provide us with solutions in virtually every imaginable area, but it requires large investments and strong collaboration.

“For a small open economy such as Denmark, it is crucial to cooperate with the world’s leading countries. Both when it comes to talent exchange, research, innovation, commercialisation, security and defence.

“Therefore, I am very pleased that Denmark and the UK will now initiate an even closer collaboration on quantum technology.”

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