The goal of conducting tsunami research is to save lives and reduce economic losses due to tsunamis. This requires that we develop sufficient scientific knowledge and appropriate engineering tools on which to base comprehensive tsunami mitigation plans. For a tsunami generated across the ocean, a reliable warning system that predicts the arrival time and expected inundation area can save many lives. It will also reduce economic losses by reducing the numbers of false tsunami evacuation warnings. For a tsunami generated nearby, emergency evacuation must be initiated as soon as the first ground shaking is felt; this will be successful only if an appropriate response plan is already in place and well understood by local inhabitants. The highest priority for mitigating tsunami hazard, therefore, is to identify high tsunami-risk zones and educate citizens who live in and near those zones about proper evacuation procedures.
The Tsunami Computational Portal will provide a unique forum to expedite the development of new and enhanced methods for predicting tsunamis and mitigating their effects. Using the portal, researchers and tsunami warning operations staff will be able to collaboratively execute and analyze model behavior, comparing them to the observed effects of past tsunamis. Researchers who have developed computational models "contribute" them to the portal, where they are fully documented and made available for peer review by other tsunami experts. Portal users can select individual models and apply them to a variety of "scenarios," or collections of geographical and infrastructure data that mimic a variety of real-world coastal settings. The models are maintained at a supercomputer center (where they are kept up-to-date by IT professionals) and are executed on behalf of portal users; after execution, users can view or download their results. Most importantly, users can compare the results of running different models on the same "scenarios" and can exchange comments about issues and recommendations with the rest of the tsunami research communit`y. This collaborative process of review and analysis will improve both our understanding of tsunami dynamics and the accuracy of tsunami models.