Nº 9 2011 > News

Submarine cables for global climate monitoring and disaster warning

Joint task force set up

Submarine cables for global climate monitoring and disaster warningSubmarine cables for global climate monitoring and disaster warning

The idea of using submarine telecommunication cables globally for ocean and climate monitoring as well as for disaster warning moved one step closer to reality during Green Standards Week, held in Rome, Italy, from 5 to 9 September 2011. As previously reported in the January–February 2011 issue of ITU News, equipping repeaters — boxes that amplify optical signals — with sensors could make the undersea telecommunications network part of a real-time global ocean observatory, taking advantage of the fact that the repeaters are set every 100 kilometres or so throughout the network.

During Green Standards Week, ITU together with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO/IOC) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) organized a workshop on “Submarine Cables for Ocean/Climate Monitoring and Disaster Warning: Science, Engineering, Business and Law”. The workshop encouraged the development of new technologies and standards for climate monitoring and disaster warning and also explored business opportunities for telecommunication companies to become active players in monitoring climate change.

The workshop brought together leading specialists in the field, from top policy-makers to engineers, designers, planners, government officials and representatives from the International Cable Protection Committee (ICPC) and from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). It closed with the adoption of a Call to action (see box) inviting ITU, UNESCO/IOC and WMO to establish and coordinate a joint task force composed of world renowned experts from science, engineering, business and law to continue to explore ways of taking the idea forward.

With secretariat support from ITU, the joint task force will develop a strategy and road map towards ensuring that submarine repeaters equipped with scientific sensors become available for climate monitoring and disaster risk reduction (specifically with regard to tsunamis). The joint task force will also assess the potential for renovating and relocating retired out-of-service cables for this purpose.

For more information, please contact: cristina.bueti@itu.int

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