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Weather and Waves in the Turbid Yellow Sea New modelling system scheduled to be ready in time for the 2008 Olympic Games

In June, researchers from Denmark, China, South Korea and Germany launched the EU project YEOS, which stands for “YEllow Sea Observation, forecasting and information System“.

This forecasting system is scheduled to be ready in time for the Olympic Games in China in August 2008. Although it will initially benefit the sailing competitions held in the Yellow Sea, the system will later be of assistance to local fishermen and merchant fleets.

“Our colleagues in China and Korea will supply measurement data on things such as the depth of the sea, the amount of water flowing in from rivers and all available information on weather, water and sea conditions,” says coastal researcher Dr. Heinz Günther from GKSS in Geesthacht by way of explaining the work that lies ahead. “The existing measurement network, which consists of buoys and measurement platforms, will be expanded further in the coming months. At the same time, we will be combining the weather and sea modelling systems of all of the participating researchers and adapting them to the conditions found in the Yellow Sea.”

By adding a component for suspended particles, the experts from Geesthacht have expanded the mathematical model’s capabilities beyond those of systems designed merely to forecast winds, waves and currents. That’s because suspended particles are mainly composed of inorganic sediment that is transported into the sea by rivers, for example. These particles determine how much and how far light can penetrate the water. This, in turn, influences the growth of plankton and water plants, which serve as the basic nourishment for many species of fish and shrimp. In addition, these particles can also contain toxic materials from agriculture and industry. As a result, predicting how suspended particles will be distributed in the sea and along the coasts can be of great help in protecting the environment and managing crises such as accidental toxic spills. “Our existing three-dimensional models for the North Sea and the Baltic Sea can calculate the influx of suspended particles following storms and floods in advance,” says GKSS researcher Gerhard Gayer, who incorporated the Geesthacht computer model into the basic Danish system.

“The colleagues from China and Korea are incredibly skilled and we are benefiting a lot from their measurement systems and computer models,” adds Günther. “Although the Olympics will serve as a milestone for the EU’s YEOS project, our contribution of a suspended particle calculation component will introduce our colleagues in Asia to the world of ecosystem modelling. We think this is very important, since it will allow them to increasingly take environmental aspects into account when monitoring the Yellow Sea.”

Torsten Fischer | alfa
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