Southern California is testing the efficacy of a GPS System in predicting natural disasters such as earthquakes and flooding. The GPS receivers are linked to a network that analyzes information in real time and that information can identify natural disasters before they happen.
Researcher Yehuda Bock from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography located in La Jolla, CA, explains: “By adding small, inexpensive sensor used in popular electronic devices to existing GPS…we can greatly enhance our response to natural hazards, such as earthquakes, tsunamis, severe weather, and flooding.” Bock continues, “Our system improves on the traditional seismic monitoring…by estimating the ground motions and permanent displacements.”
In addition to providing authorities a few extra minutes to notify the public of an impending natural disaster, like an earthquake, the GPS system can estimate structural damage from ground displacement. The GPS receivers are also equipped with pressure and temperature sensors for meteorological monitoring.
In July, the GPS system was used to track a monsoon across Southern California. With the real-time data provided by the GPS receivers, meteorologists forecasted a flash flood and warned at-risk residents.
Currently, there are 17 enhanced GPS stations in operation with high hopes to add sensors to the other 550 located on the west coast.