Jumat, 01 Mei 2009

ARGO News : Chinese scientists cast adrift in a sea of opportunity

ARGO (Array for Real-time Geostrophic Oceanography)
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ARGO News : Chinese scientists cast adrift in a sea of opportunity
April 15, 2009

Sea-faring robots may be the latest high-profile weapon in the fight against climate change, but are Chinese scientists letting the valuable data they produce go to waste?

Experts working on a major international ocean monitoring project think so - and have blamed the waste on the fact many researchers simply do not know it is free.

Launched at the start of the millennium, ARGO (Array for Real-time Geostrophic Oceanography) is an ongoing and developing program aimed at keeping a regular check on the temperature and salinity of the Seven Seas with satellite-tracked, automated floats.

The robots, which have a lifespan of four years and dive to 2,000 m for 10 days to take crucial measurements, help scientists to better predict changes or trends in the ocean's climate, explained Xu Jianping, a researcher at the second institute of oceanography under the State Oceanic Administration and chief scientist for the China ARGO program.

He said China will deploy around 60 floats this year, 10 of which will be placed in the east of the Bashi Channel, in the northwest Pacific Ocean, during a two-week scientific expedition by researchers from the China Ocean University. They were aboard the vessel Dongfanghong 2, which left Xiamen, in Fujian province, on February 3. Another 50 will be cast adrift in the Indian Ocean between June and September.


Researchers from the China Ocean University aboard the Dongfanghong 2 vessel, which left Xiamen, in Fujian province, on February 3 to deploy ARGO floats in the Pacific Ocean. (Photo: Chinadaily.com.cn)

But while experts in Great Britain, Australia, Japan and the United States have embraced the "revolutionary" research, Xu warned his nation is lagging far behind.

"In most participating countries, scientists from various fields have shown great interest in the ARGO program, with climatologists the most enthusiastic," he explained. "But in China, ARGO is still little known among scientists, except oceanographers.

"Everyone has access to the same data. Even a high school student who wants to be an oceanographer or climatologist can access it on his desktop. He or she could also catch up with the international research and climate change studies using the ARGO data. It would be a great pity if China's scientists miss such a good opportunity."

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"ARGO is similar to a satellite in coverage but it's looking at the sub-surface ocean rather than the sea's surface," he said. "So the purpose of having 3,000 floats out there is to give us that sort of dense global coverage that you need in order to really see the variability in the oceans."

The program has so far yielded valuable results that have proved the foundation, or at least a major source, for an annual average of 107 research papers since 2004. The collected data is made available to users quickly and free of restrictions online or on request.


Source: China Daily
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Best Regards,
Aji Putra Perdana
ARGO'ers.....

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