The Popularization of Scientific Achievement “Observe Ocean by Satellites, Monitor CO2 Flux through Remote Sensing” –Presented by Researcher He Xianqiang


“Popularization of Scientific Achievement” is a platform established by China Association for Science and Technology, Zhejiang Association for Science and Technology and Hangzhou City Express which aims to invite frontline scientists to narrate their research stories for the public. Therefore, the general public can develop interests and passion to science, showing respect to scientists and researchers. 

The universally known term “low carbon life” and “green economy” originate from the acceleration of greenhouse gases such as CO2 which is mainly caused by human activities. The increase of greenhouse emission results in global climate change and extreme weather, seriously threatening the sustainable development of human society.

Therefore, the United Nations has held many climate negotiations in order to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. Countries around the world are gambling with each other considering their economic development, which brings about uncertainties to international climate negotiations.

On August 29, “Running to the Sea”, the series activities of “Popularization of Scientific Achievement” promoted by China Association for Science and Technology, Zhejiang Association for Science and Technology and Hangzhou City Express came to Second Institute of Oceanography (SIO), Ministry of Natural Resources.


Scientists deliver presentations in front of the public, in order to explain how to “Observe Ocean by Satellites and Monitor CO2 Flux through Remote Sensing”. The scientific achievement “Key Technology and Application for Dynamic Monitoring of Carbon Flux from Land into the Sea” has won the First Prize of Zhejiang Science Progress Award.

The presenter Dr. HE Xianqiang carries his research on Ocean Color Remote Sensing in Second Institute of Oceanography for about 20 years. He has led over 30 scientific research projects at national and provincial level, and was awarded National Outstanding Young Scholar. Dr. He is also a member in the executive committee of International Ocean-Color Co-ordinating Group (IOCCG).


       Dr. He says, currently, China’s total carbon emission ranks the first in the world, so we are faced with a heavy pressure of reducing the CO2 emission. As the largest carbon pool on earth, oceans can absorb almost one-third of the CO2 emitted by human activities. Considering its mass potential of carbon storage capability, people start to seek more carbon sequestration from oceans.

    The United Nations Climate Change Conference released Making the Ocean a Partner in Our Quest for a Sustainable Future. From green carbon to blue carbon, the reduction of CO2 emission shifts from land to ocean. Understanding how oceans absorb and transmit carbon and the ocean carbon cycling are vital to the research of global climate change. Under such circumstance, satellite remote sensing is one of the significant methodologies of monitoring CO2 flux.


    Innovative Technology—Tackle with International Challenges after 5 years’ Research

    In the light of the scientific assessment of carbon flux from land into the sea, Dr. He Xianqiang said that with the support of the Special Public Welfare Funds for Marine Scientific Research and the National Natural Science Foundation, the cross-disciplinary researches carried by 9 institutions including the Second Ocean Institute have established a coordinated land and marine technical system for dynamic monitoring and evaluation of carbon flux from land into the sea.

    After more than five years of research and development, by carrying on interdisciplinary research on satellite remote sensing, field observation, numerical simulation, and geographic information system, the team overcome the international challenges such as offshore high frequency satellite remote sensing monitoring, monitoring high dynamic river into the sea and offshore carbon flux remote sensing dynamic evaluation. Therefore, a three-dimensional monitoring and evaluation system for offshore carbon flux has been constructed.

    So how can the general public be benefited from this innovative technology? In fact, in addition to carbon flux monitoring, this satellite remote sensing technology can also be applied to many other fields, such as sewage discharge into the sea, environmental monitoring of marine ranching and fishing grounds, monitoring coastal water quality and coastal ecological environment.


    National Application—Improve Coordinated Land and Marine Monitoring Capability

    According to Dr. He, the technology established a multi-interface coordinated land and marine remote sensing dynamic evaluation system, improving national capacity for monitoring carbon flux from land and ocean and gaining data of carbon flux of offshore river and sea. Applications in areas such as solutions for climate change, marine monitoring, and environmental protection have achieved significant social benefits.

    The monitoring data demonstrate that the annual organic carbon fluxes transporting by mainland Chinese rivers are nearly 10 million tons. Among them, the volume of organic carbon transporting by small rivers alongside the southeast coast accounts for about 15% of the total. This discovery has changed the traditional view, pointing out that the organic carbon contributed by small rivers had been underestimated. In other words, we should not ignore any brook nearby, because they are likely to bring traces of human activities into the offshore sea and affect the marine ecological environment.


    National Export—Users of SatCO2 All Around the World

    The research team has also developed SatCO2, a marine satellite data online analysis platform that integrate data of remote sensing and real-time measuring, which achieves the rapid acquisition of satellite data, the integration of online scientific computation and three-dimensional sphere expression, providing Internet users with online sharing and analysis services for 60 marine parameters from more than 20 satellites of 30-years’ span.

    With the efforts of the team, 7 international training courses have been undertaken during the past 4 years, and the research results have been promoted and applied in more than 20 countries. The SatCO2 platform has been used in international training programs in parallel with the Ocean Color Satellite Data Processing System developed by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and European Space Agency (ESA), excelling at the global ocean carbon remote sensing online service.



Source: Hangzhou City Express