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In NOAA video, watch Japan tsunami race across Pacific

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A new video from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows how the tsunami that devastated Japan ripped across the Pacific Ocean.

A new video from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows how the tsunami that devastated Japan this weekend ripped across the Pacific Ocean.

It might surprise you, but the propagation of its waves is largely shaped by the land masses around the Pacific Ocean -- not its wide open expanse itself.

Understanding these physics is key to most efficiently addressing alarm and rescue efforts -- as you can see, it took about six hours before Indonesia was hit, and the western coast of the United States actually saw effects from the tsunami before Australia did.

Nevertheless, the video is a stunning illustration of how quick and massive this disaster really was -- and by extension, how complex it can be to predict.

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Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure