Run Uphill for a Tsunami, Downhill for a Landslide

Published in: Issues in Science and Technology, Volume 38, No. 1, pages 40–46 (Fall 2021)

Posted on RAND.org on November 12, 2021

by Lisa Busch, Robert J. Lempert, Max Izenberg, Annette Patton

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Historic Sitka, Alaska, a town of 9,000 residents, is located on an island southwest of the state capital of Juneau, in the heart of the Tongass National Forest. The Pacific Ocean borders one side of the town, with steep mountains rising above the other. The community has long recognized the threat of tsunamis, but heavy rains in recent years have now caused landslides to be a concern as well. This is the story of how Sitka came to build its own innovative landslide warning system, as told by members of the team working to develop it.

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