Minhan Dai, dean of Xiamen University’s College of Oceanography and Environmental Science, discussed research opportunities at a three-day UD workshop titled “Sustaining Dynamic Ecosystem Services in the Coastal Oceans of the USA and China.”

Global vision

Chinese oceanographers from Xiamen University visit UD

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10:30 a.m., March 7, 2012--The South China Sea may be half a world away, but University of Delaware oceanographers are interested in understanding ecosystem dynamics there. The sea is roughly comparable in size to the Mid-Atlantic Bight, receives even higher nutrient inputs from rivers and bays, and experiences analogous water shifts driven by currents.

“We are trying to understand the similarities and differences between these two major bodies of water,” said George Luther, Maxwell P. and Mildred H. Harrington Professor of Oceanography in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE).

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Luther, CEOE Dean Nancy Targett and other UD faculty hosted colleagues from China’s Xiamen University (XU) last week to discuss mutual research interests and explore opportunities for future collaborations. At a three-day workshop titled “Sustaining Dynamic Ecosystem Services in the Coastal Oceans of the USA and China,” researchers from both universities gave presentations about ocean observation, marine ecology, ecosystem services and other topics.

“It’s impossible for everyone to look at every piece of the ocean,” said Minhan Dai, dean of XU’s College of Oceanography and Environmental Science. “You need a global vision.”

UD has longstanding ties with XU, having established a formal agreement to enhance research efforts in 2007 and created the Joint Institute for Coastal Research and Management a year later. In 2011 the universities created a dual degree program in oceanography, whereby students from either institution can earn a doctoral degree from both by studying abroad for at least three semesters. 

Representatives from XU arrived in Delaware on Feb. 25 after participating in the international Ocean Sciences Meeting in Salt Lake City. They toured the Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes, visiting the research vessel Hugh R. Sharp, the global visualization lab and the wind turbine

Over the course of the visit, the researchers discussed ways to advance shared scientific objectives. For example, water pollution in parts of China resembles contamination conditions of the Delaware Estuary after World War II, Luther said. American colleagues can provide examples of cleanup measures’ results – while also considering the predicted effects of climate change.

“Our friends from Xiamen bring fresh perspective on important issues in ocean science,” Targett said. “During their visit we accomplished a lot, and we look forward to building a sustainable framework for continued partnership for many years to come.”

Article by Teresa Messmore

Photos by Evan Krape

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