Detecting the Arterial Pulse of the Earth

Date:Aug 02, 2022    |  【 A  A  A 】

(Text by WANG Zheng "Zac",

Zheng was taking a break during the setting of the ADCP on R/V Kexue. Credit: Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

From 2014 to 2018, each year I spent one or two months on R/V Baruna Jaya VIII to conduct scientific surveys in the Indonesian Seas. Here exists an important flow called Indonesian throufhflow (ITF), which is the only tropical branch of the great ocean conveyor belt that connects the western Pacific and eatern Indian Oceans. ITF carries huge amount of mass, heat and salt from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean, playing a key role to determine the global climate change. Using the submooring system with current, temperature, and salinity sensors, Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IOCAS), together with Research Center for Oceanography, Indonesian Institute of Science(RCO-LIPI, Now is RCO-BRIN)  have built the largest mooring grid in the Indonesian Seas. This observation network has greatly help us to understand the water exchange between the low-latitude Pacific Ocean and marginal seas.

As the leading scientist from IOCAS, I've been able to travel through the Indonesian archipelagos and witness so many natural wonders.

I've been cruised along the 130E section, where the flows from the Pacific is dark blue due to lack of nutrient and looks like a solemn gentleman. I've been sailed to the south Java Sea, where the up-welling water from eastern Indian Ocean is light emerald green and looks like a romantic lady. I've been enjoyed the tranquility of the calm sea with foggy around like a fairyland at 4 am in the heart of the Banda Sea which is the world's deepest forearc basin. I've been deployed the sea-glider in Bitung, where I got gasp in admiration about the stunning beautiful coral-reef along Bunaken island where they call it the God’s tropical fish tank. I've been embarked at Sorong and ferried to Raja Ampat to go night-diving and experienced the adrenaline burst when a manta ray came insight from dark below.

While, the sea is not so lovable. I've been badly sick and threw up on R/V Baruna Jaya VIII when we went through the strong western boundary currents area at the entrance of the ITF. I've been had a meeting in Lombok Island and got stuck in there several days because of the eruption of the volcano Agung in Bali Island and the airport was shut down. I've been sleeping on bed at 13th floor of a hotel in Manado then waked up by an earthquake and went through the scary time of my life for minutes which felt like hours.

Nature is ruthless and science is relentless. The joint cruise in Indonesian Seas is still ongoing. I'm also the main liaison between the Indonesian and Chinese scientists, also the bridge builder between the nature and science. I'll continue to observe and try to understand how the ITF circulate our climate system. I'll be there to detect the artery pulse of the earth.

(Editor: ZHANG Yiyi)

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