Provides humanity with rich resources
And reveals secrets of the climate.
Aside from the national parks,
There is another group of guardians over marine
Resources—a group of scientists.
They try to decode the messages from the ocean,
And unlock the mysteries of climate change.
Global warming is by far the hottest environmental issue in recent years. From the U.S. documentary An Inconvenient Truth (2006) to the locally produced ±2°C (2010), the world’s growing anxiety over it is unmistakable. While there are still debates over the science behind these films, no one can deny that the weather is indeed getting hotter. The enormous impacts caused by extreme climates are seen and felt everywhere.
The Challenge of Rising Sea Levels
Record-breaking droughts, floods, snow storms and hurricanes have recently occurred on different parts of the planet. Yet an even greater disaster is still looming—global warming-induced sea level rise. Land, already representing less than 30% of the Earth’s surface, may be further diminished by the oceans’ expansion. Simply put, it is the Green versus the Blue, the land’s defense against the invading oceans. It is a battle Taiwan cannot afford to lose.
Since 1991, Prof. Kuang-lung Fan of NTU’s Institute of Oceanography has been monitoring tidal levels in coastal cities like Keelung, Yilan, Taitung and Kaohsiung. He found that, for the decade, Taiwan’s sea level has risen at an annual rate of 0.32 cm, exceeding the global average. At this speed, it will rise by at least 0.3 m in just a century’s time.
Two factors contribute to current sea level rise, and both are caused by global warming. The melting of continental ice sheets adds water to the oceans, and thermal expansion increases the volume of seawater. The combined effects of these factors threaten the coastal ecosystems first.
The ocean plays a vital role in regulating and stabilizing global climates, making a sustainable environment possible for all living beings. Crucial natural processes like water circulation and the exchange of energies take place in the ocean and the atmosphere. Monsoons and typhoons expedite atmospheric heat exchange between Earth’s poles, and ocean currents help maintain energy balance for the planet by bringing warm seawater from the vicinity of the Equator to high-latitude areas.