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Research Themes

The Division of Oceanography


Ongoing important topics of marine research


International collaborations. There are quite a few international research vessels visiting Taiwan in recent years, including R/V Marcus Langseth (2009, US), R/V Natushima (Japan, 2010), R/V Sonne (Germany, 2012), R/V Roger Revelle (US, 2014-2017) etc. suggesting healthy and active collaboration among domestic and international oceanographers.  Frontier topics such as Plate Boundary Observatory in the tectonic province around Taiwan, Taiwan orogeny and gas hydrate system offshore southwestern Taiwan have attracted interests from leading scientific groups. There have already been three special issues from leading international journals focusing on the marine science studies around Taiwan (Oceanography, "The Oceanography of Taiwan" in December 2011; "A New Look of the Low-Latitude Western Pacific" in December 2015; and Journal of Marine Research, "Continental Shelf and Slope Processes Northeast of Taiwan" in January 2013). Furthermore, local chemical oceanographer has been critical co-PI of GEOTRACE, the internationally celebrated program of chemical oceanography.


Characteristics of Kuroshio current. The Kuroshio is a western boundary current and flows northward along east of Taiwan. Mesoscale eddies from the ocean interior arrive east of Luzon [Cheng et al., 2014; Lien et al., 2014] and Taiwan [Cheng et al., 2014; Yang et al., 1999] where they impinge on the Kuroshio at about 100-day interval [Cheng et al., 2014; Johns et al., 2001; Yang et al., 1999; Zhang et al., 2001]. Observations suggest that these interactions affect not only eddies but also drive Kuroshio variability [Andres et al., 2008; Lien et al. 2014]. Mesoscale eddies in the ocean profoundly influence the large-scale flux of momentum, heat, salt, and ocean-atmosphere systems. When they impinge on the Kuroshio east of Taiwan, it may affect the weather, even climate of Taiwan. Domestic efforts on the research of the Kuroshio current have resulted in the AGU “Research Spotlight” more than once in recent years.


Internal waves in the South China Sea. Domestic physical oceanographers had been actively engaged in a partnership project collaborated with researchers from US Office of Naval Research (ONR). There have been many original discoveries and important paper contributions on the internal wave in the South China Sea and the interaction of typhoon and oceans (e.g., Alford et al. [2015] and Zheng et al. [2015]).


Long-term biological and chemical marine observatory of the East China Sea. The division of oceanography has been funding the Long-term marine observatory of the East China Sea for many years. Some of the published findings reveal significant changes of the sediment transport and other biological and chemical proxies for various oceanographic processes due to the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, providing important constraints on the study of multiscale dynamics of the marine ecological system in response to the environmental changes.


Time series marine observatory. As active participant of IMBER (Integrated Marine Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Research, http://www.imber.info), the division of oceanography has been funding several cross-disciplinary research programs such as ECOBEST (Effects of Global Change on Ocean Biogeochemistry and Ecosystems in the Seas surrounding Taiwan in the Northwest Pacific), OKTV (Observations of the Kuroshio Transports and their Variability) etc. Among them, SEATS (South East Asia Time-Series Station) has already been a long term time series station collecting biological, geological and chemical data for decades. Continuous long-term time series observatories have also been gradually established to be important ingredient of other programs such as the Donsha Atoll marine research laboratory and the Coastal Watch project.


Donsha Atoll marine research laboratory. The Donsha Atoll marine research laboratory that has been one of the high priority programs of the department of Natural Sciences and Sustainable Development in recent years was initiated since November, 2012. There are nine seed projects with international collaborations from scientists from US, England, Germany, Canada, Japan, Australia, Greece, Spain, India, Indonesia and Thailand etc. Original discoveries related to various aspects of marine biology, internal waves, ocean acidification and the geological origin and evolution of atoll have gradually been revealed.

Source-to-Sink research. Taiwan is a high-standing mountainous island, having rugged terrain. The tectonic setting and geographic location cause Taiwan to have frequent earthquakes and typhoon invasions.  All the above factors lead to Taiwan's river sediment yield that is unsurmountable in the world.  Taiwan’s unique physiographic characteristics create divers river dispersal systems to deliver fluvial sediment to the shallow Taiwan Strait via rivers on the west coast, south China Sea Basin and deep Pacific Basin through submarine canyons SW and SE off Taiwan, and to the southern Okinawa Trough via Kuroshio in NE Taiwan.  Therefore, Taiwan provides an idea setting for source-to-sink research to study sediment generation through catchment dynamics (source), transport (processes), and eventual deposition (sink).  MOST has supported this research through integrated research programs including FATES-KP (2003-06), FATES-COMARC (2006-09), and FATES-HYPERS (2009-).  Research findings by PIs in this program have been published in top journals in marine science and earth science, such as Annual Review of Marine Science, Earth-Science Reviews among others.


Plate Boundary Observatory in the tectonic province around Taiwan. Due to the unique tectonic setup, marine geological and geophysical survey and various aspects of research of tectonophysics around Taiwan have attracted considerable international research interests. Research vessels from US, France, Germany, Russia and Japan have been continuously visiting seas around Taiwan to conduct important researches. Collaborated research programs such as TAICRUST in the 1990s and the more recent TAIGER program have all collected critical data to improve our knowledge of the tectonics around Taiwan as well as the general understanding of the tectonophysics and geodynamics of the arc-continent collision. R/V Ocean Research I that was originally built by MOST and operated by National Taiwan University (NTU) have played critical roles in these collaborated expeditions. Multichannel echo sounding system that was later installed on R/V Ocean Research II (operated by National Taiwan Ocean University) and the marine geothermal exploration system that has been developed and built domestically have all contributed significantly in long-term marine geophysical survey expeditions such as the continental shelf survey project, the marine resources survey project etc. 


Ocean Data Bank. The division of oceanography has continuously funded NTU for decades to organize and operate the Ocean Data Bank such that precious data obtained from marine observations can be systematically stored through precise quality control and becoming easily retrievable. The ocean data bank has aimed at increasing the value of the raw observation data by building intelligent, knowledge based data base. Based on the accumulated marine observation data, the Institute of Oceanography, NTU has published the first book on the regional oceanography around Taiwan.


Last Modified : 2017/10/11