Fifteen more experts receive training in the use of CTBTO data
“People need to appreciate the value offered by the CTBTO data and realize that the data are available for Member States free of charge. This course has also highlighted the scientific and technical capabilities of the verification regime.” Jurgita Jarmalaviciute, State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate, Lithuania
Making use of a vast amount of monitoring data
An intensive two-week technical training course at the headquarters of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), with financial support from the European Union, concluded on 5 July. The course brought together 15 participants from four continents. Its main aim was to enable trainees to make use of the vast amount of data generated daily by the CTBTO’s monitoring stations around the world.
Over 85% of the stations making up the International Monitoring System are already fully operational and send data to the CTBTO in Vienna in real time for analysis – first automatically and then by analysts at the International Data Centre. The raw data and the analysis results are then distributed to National Data Centres (NDCs) for review and consideration so that they can determine whether an ambiguous event has taken place and whether it may have been a nuclear explosion.
“The final judgement in Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) verification is made by our Member States. The relevant analytical work is performed by NDCs. As technical experts, NDC staff provide their governments with technical advice related to the CTBT, which is why this capacity building course is so important,” stated the CTBTO’s Martin Kalinowski.
NDC staff are also able to use the data for disaster warning and research purposes For example, the data can detect earthquakes that cause tsunamis or can help monitor the dispersion of radioactivity in the atmosphere.
Enhancing the capacities of NDCs
While the majority of CTBTO Members States have established an NDC, some countries have not yet done so, usually because they lack the necessary technical or personnel capacity.
Recognizing the significant role that NDCs play in the CTBT’s verification architecture, the European Union sponsored participants from Belarus, Brazil, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico and Romania. The EU has funded the CTBTO's capacity building projects for several years; see press release on the latest voluntary contribution of over five million Euros.
Participants received hands-on training in accessing and using CTBTO data and also learned how to install and use the NDC-in a-box software, which the International Data Centre has developed to enable NDCs to receive, process and analyse monitoring data.
“We don’t have an official NDC in Mexico yet so the knowledge I’ve acquired here about how to install an NDC is extremely useful. We now have the capabilities to establish an NDC.”Jorge Valentin Zertuche Rodriguez, Comision Nacional de Seguridad Nuclear y Salvaguardias, Mexico
Learning how to locate and characterize a seismic event
A large portion of the course involved learning to use a software system called Geotool, which has been developed by the CTBTO and is distributed to NDCs free of charge. It allows a user to interactively display and process seismoacoustic waveform data from the CTBTO’s global network of stations. With their newly acquired knowledge, participants will now be able to use seismic data to locate and characterize a seismic event.
Upon successful completion of the course, participants were encouraged to integrate the data into routine operations back in their respective countries and to train their colleagues upon their return.