Indian Ocean Wave Tsunami Exercise 2011

The Eighth Session of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (3 to 6 May 2011 in Melbourne, Australia) decided to hold an Indian Ocean Wave Exercise in 2011 (IOWave11). A Task Team comprising Australia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Oman was established.

The timetable of the transition from the Interim Advisory Service (IAS) to the Regional Tsunami Advisory Service Provider (RTSP) service for the IOTWS was adopted. The RTSP service commenced into operations on 12 October 2011, following the IOWave11 exercise. The IAS provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) continued in parallel (or “shadow”) until the next session of the ICG.

The exercise provided the Indian Ocean countries to test their operational lines of communications, review their tsunami warning and emergency response Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and to promote emergency preparedness.

Exercise Scenario

The purpose of the Exercise Indian Ocean Wave 2011 (IOWave11) is to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOTWS), its operational Regional Tsunami Advisory Service Providers (RTSPs) and the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (RIMES), the Interim Advisory Service provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC), the National Tsunami Warning Centres (NTWCs), and National Disaster Management Organizations (NDMOs), in responding to a potentially destructive tsunami.

The Scenario simulated tsunami generated by a magnitude 9.2 earthquake off the northwest coast of Sumatra at 3.30ºN, 95.96ºE that occurs on 12 October 2011 at 0100 UTC. An earthquake of this size generated a tsunami with widespread destructive effects. Bulletins was issued in real-time for approximately 12 hours until the tsunami is simulated to have crossed the entire Indian Ocean.

Image Map

Updated Threat Status in the Indian Ocean regions (Provincial Administrative Boundaries)


There was a single exercise scenario played out in real-time. The scenario replicated the major earthquake off the northwest coast of Sumatra on 26 December 2004 that generated a destructive tele-tsunami affecting countries from Australia to South Africa over the course of about 12 hours.

The RTSPs, RIMES and IAS providers issued bulletins for this exercise to all IOTWS NTWCs. The timeline for issuance of bulletins on 12 October was given the manual. Scenario Timeline World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) Global Telecommunication System (GTS) product identifiers for the bulletins was also give in the manual.

The RTSPs and RIMES issued an initial notification message to start the exercise. Thereafter, NTWCs was directed to the RTSP and RIMES websites to view the detailed bulletins. Participating countries either followed the exercise timeline or elected to exercise on their own timeline to achieve their particular objectives.

Estimated tsunami arrival times and wave heights to all IOTWS countries were included in the bulletins. Message continued being issued until the simulated tsunami crossed the entire Indian Ocean and the exercise concludes.


The exercise highlighted both the strengths and weaknesses of the IOTWS, identified areas that require further attention, and provided a benchmark of the present status of the system.

A total of 22 countries participated, with 4 countries taking the exercise down to the community level, and all countries provided feedback via a post-event questionnaire. All three designated RTSPs participated, plus the two IAS providers and the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning Centre for Africa and Asia (RIMES).

Results indicate that all NTWCs were satisfied with the overall exercise planning, conduct, format and style. Most were satisfied that the advisory information was provided in a timely manner.

Email was the most effective mode of communication between the RTSPs and the NTWCs followed by GTS, SMS and Fax. All the countries were able to understand the bulletins and could make decisions based on the information provided.

Most of the countries limited the drill to their NTWCs and NDMOs, except India, Kenya, Malaysia and Mauritius which also performed community level evacuations. Time taken for actual public evacuation from the time NDMOs received their NTWC warnings ranged from 20 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes. Specific areas of improvement have been identified in the report.

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