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UCL Earth Sciences

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Rachel Hunt

“Patiently waiting on the unlikely opportunity for a photo with a tsunami.”

PhD project title:

New Zealand’s Tsunami Warning System: Considerations for Enhancing Hazard Communication and Response.


Rachel Hunt
Project description:

This research focusses on tsunami early warnings and responses, aiming to understand and enhance New Zealand’s tsunami warning system, drawing good practices that can benefit the global tsunami community. Individuals and communities are known to respond in different ways to official tsunami warnings and natural tsunami warning signs. This research seeks to understand how official warnings are decided upon and communicated and the ways in which warnings can be tailored through education and engagement measures to improve tsunami awareness and preparedness. Social research methods were used to investigate tsunami early warnings and responses in New Zealand. Documents and archives were studied to examine the nature and content of official tsunami information and the methods currently used to communicate these warnings. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with tsunami researchers, warning specialists, and emergency managers to gain an understanding of the opinions held on the effectiveness of official warnings and public education. Participants were recruited from research institutes, national agencies, regional groups, and local councils in New Zealand. This research aims to improve the understanding of and responses to official tsunami warnings and natural tsunami warning signs, contributing to the development of tsunami resilient communities in New Zealand and beyond.