World Tsunami Awareness Day – meet RPS Tsunami expert Dr Tayebeh Tajalli Bakhsh

This year the UN’s World Tsunami Awareness Day is focusing on understanding risk and developing asset resiliency.

05.11.19

To mark this occasion, we interviewed Dr Tayebeh Tajalli Bakhsh, Ph.D. Ocean engineering, who is part of the RPS Ocean Science team in Rhode Island, and an expert in modelling Tsunami waves. 

What motivated you to study coastal hazards and specifically tsunamis?

Working on research that mattered!

The first time I saw the news reporting the devastation caused by a tsunami from the Indian Ocean in 2004 with more than 200,000 lives tragically lost I thought, I want my work to have an impact!

Why is understanding tsunamis and how they behave important in minimising risk and building resilience?

Tsunami waves can travel across the ocean at the speed of a jet and can form a series of waves tens of meters high onto land! Understanding the behaviour of these phenomena more accurately and deeply will save lives, minimise property loss and/or damage and help us to build resilient coastal infrastructure in future. 

What are you working on now?

Recently my focus has been on the ‘inundation’ or flooding of coastal infrastructure and energy facilities, for example coastal nuclear power plants, oil refineries, or cable landing sites of offshore wind farms and how the load or wave pressure affects the siting of these types of structures.

How is urbanisation and climate change impacting coastal areas and infrastructure?

Climate change is affecting and intensifying extreme weather and natural disaster events. For example, when the frequency and the severity of storms increase, the risk to offshore and onshore infrastructure also increases.

About 40% of the world population, ~2.4 billion people, currently live within 100 km of the coast. Urbanisation results in more infrastructure, which indirectly or directly impacts the environment. The science around climate change suggests rising sea levels is putting coastal zone infrastructure, and the communities that live in and around them, at higher risk from extreme flooding and erosion, by increasing the background water level.


Although extreme events and geohazards such as Tsunamis are rare, they will continue to occur. If you would like more information on this critical subject, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Tayebeh TajalliBakhsh

Ocean Engineer, Senior Scientist

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