HK deepens marine data with nation’s help

A remotely operated underwater car is raised from the ocean close to the Xisha Islands. CHINA DAILY

Stronger improvement

Cheng and her marine scientist colleagues in Hong Kong had been really helpful for the mainland-funded ocean expedition by the establishment they work for — the Hong Kong department of the Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Guangzhou) at HKUST.

The department, established in 2019, was cofounded by the Innovation Academy for South China Sea Ecology and Environmental Engineering on the Chinese language Academy of Sciences, the Guangzhou Science and Expertise Innovation Committee, and HKUST. The department goals to strengthen marine science improvement within the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Better Bay Space and promote cross-border collaboration for Hong Kong oceanographers.

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Qian Peiyuan, a veteran marine scientist and director of the department, mentioned Hong Kong may play an even bigger function within the nationwide marine economic system blueprint and ocean governance. Town has many world-class analysis universities and expertise, and lately it has paid extra consideration to know-how and innovation, he added.

Hong Kong occupies a sea space of 1,641.21 sq. kilometers. Identified for its scarcity of land, town has reclaimed 77.6 sq km from the ocean over the previous 130 years. It additionally boasts a world-class container port — the Kwai Tsing Container Terminals — and Victoria Harbour.

Nevertheless, town is little-known for its marine science. Within the 2022 QS World College Rankings, three universities in Hong Kong ranked among the many high 50 on the planet — the College of Hong Kong, the Chinese language College of Hong Kong, and HKUST. Nevertheless, for Earth and Marine Science, solely certainly one of these universities was ranked Fiftieth-One centesimal, whereas the opposite two weren’t within the high 100.

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Qian, who has studied oceanography in Hong Kong for practically 30 years, mentioned that for historic and political causes, town”s marine science neighborhood pays little consideration to waters past town’s boundary, and primarily focuses on marine biology in native waters, together with environmental safety and air pollution management.

Though marine conservation and variety safety is necessary to Hong Kong, marine science covers a wider spectrum, involving physics, chemistry, geography, amongst different matters, Qian mentioned.

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Since Hong Kong’s return to the motherland in 1997, town has accelerated its integration into the nation’s general improvement, leading to extra cross-border collaboration among the many marine science neighborhood.

Hong Kong’s first national-level marine laboratory, the State Key Laboratory of Marine Air pollution, was established at Metropolis College of Hong Kong in 2010. A department of the laboratory was additionally opened at Training College of Hong Kong in 2018.

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In 2019, Cheng’s establishment opened and studied the ecosystem and ecological security within the South China Sea, together with the Better Bay Space, and new applied sciences for mining organic and microbiological assets within the area.

Over the previous three years, dozens of researchers from HKUST and different native establishments have been really helpful by Cheng’s establishment to participate in 4 state-funded expeditions within the South China Sea and the Pearl River estuary. Such a possibility, which happens yearly on common, permits extra Hong Kong researchers, particularly the youthful era, to realize first-hand expertise and an perception to marine science.

Final summer time, Frances Xiao Yao, 26, who’s finding out marine environmental science at HKUST, boarded a analysis vessel sure for the South China Sea. Earlier than finding out in Hong Kong, Xiao accomplished her undergraduate training in marine science on the mainland, however had but to affix an ocean expedition. The journey proved to be an eyeopener for the younger scientist.

“By means of the ROV’s cameras, I noticed the true deep-sea atmosphere and the way in which during which samples had been collected. The journey gave me a deeper understanding of the complexity of this atmosphere,” she mentioned.

Collaborating in these applications provides Hong Kong oceanographers a uncommon alternative for face-to-face communication with their mainland counterparts, as most cross-border exchanges over the previous two years have taken place just about as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.

Cheng mentioned: “It was an incredible expertise to work with and be taught from researchers from completely different establishments. A few of them could have the possibility to change into our potential companions.”

Qian, who can also be a chair professor on the Division of Ocean Science at HKUST, mentioned extra cross-border collaboration would assist Hong Kong marine scientists faucet the nation’s high scientific assets.

It prices a whole bunch of thousands and thousands of yuan to construct an oceanographic survey vessel, which no native establishment can afford, Qian mentioned, including that mainland establishments even have superior gear that isn’t obtainable in Hong Kong.

After returning to town in mid-June, Cheng despatched the samples she collected from the South China Sea to a laboratory in Beijing for genetic sequencing. Though she continues to be awaiting the outcomes, she believes they might assist her perform additional analysis.

As extra scientists from Hong Kong change into concerned in nationwide applications, the native marine analysis laboratory department has enhanced cross-border collaboration by inviting extra mainland and abroad students to affix its work. The department now has a complete of 98 oceanographers from Hong Kong, the mainland and abroad nations as members.

The department was established as Hong Kong’s progressive and technological ambitions had been backed by robust help at nationwide stage.

In June 2017, in a joint letter to President Xi Jinping, 24 Hong Kong academicians from the Chinese language Academy of Sciences and the Chinese language Academy of Engineering mentioned they needed to contribute to the nation’s scientific and technological improvement. Xi connected nice significance to their want, and issued directions to advertise scientific cooperation between the mainland and Hong Kong.

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