We love 'economies of scope' around here: efforts and ideas that manage to solve multiple, seemingly-unrelated problems all at once. The latest example can be found in a paper published in Geophysical Research Letters, describing the unique signature of the December 2004 tsunami as monitored by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty monitoring system. 78 of the CTBT stations, comprising seismic, hydrophone and infrared acoustic sensors, picked up signs of the December 26 earthquake and tsunami. What's more, the multiplicity of detectors made it possible to measure the intensity, speed and direction of the tsunami.
The CTBT monitoring system could clearly contribute to the global effort to watch for dangerous seismic and ocean events. Doing so will require some political choices, however: "Until this earthquake killed 200,000 people, the data was only made available to the CTBTO itself and to state signatories," [researcher Roger Bowman] said, "and not to any hazard-warning organisation. I think there is going to be a loosening of data restrictions for this purpose, and I think the kind of data interpretation we have done could be folded into a hazard warning system."
(Via Warren Ellis)