By Hung Ting-hung and Jake Chung/staff reporter, with a staff writer
Taiwan planted its national flag in front of its first Arctic research center in Longyearbyen, a town on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, yesterday and also held a plaque unveiling ceremony to formalize the fact that the research group on Taiwan’s Arctic has a “place apart”.
Minister without Portfolio Chang Ching-sen (張景森) yesterday thanked Polish scholars from Nicolaus Copernicus University who helped establish the research station.
“We thank Polish academics for creating opportunities for Formosan black bears to encounter Arctic polar bears,” he said.
Photo courtesy of the National Academy of Marine Research
The center and the international research project leading to its establishment demonstrate Taiwan’s determination to participate in North Pole observation, and is a milestone for Taiwanese researchers in the field, Chang said.
Chang praised the National Academy of Marine Research and the National Central University for their vision and ambition.
International research collaborations such as this have helped plant Taiwan’s flag in the Arctic Circle, he said.
Academy President Chiu Yung-fang (邱永芳) said the academy has been working with Nicolaus Copernicus University since last year on research topics such as ice quakes, ice melting , ocean currents and changes in wave conditions in the Arctic Ocean.
Taiwan, as a maritime nation and dependent on maritime trade, can now receive first-hand information about the climate change observed near the North Pole, Chiu said.
With the predicted gradual loss of Arctic ice caps after 2035 and the possible opening of Arctic shipping routes, Taiwan has much to gain from knowledge gathered in northern climates, Chiu added.
Taiwanese Arctic researchers previously had to seek permission to use other nations’ facilities and share labs, and with an independent station, Taiwan can better conduct research and share its results with the international community, said Shit.
Using geophysical instruments and self-made maritime data buoys stamped with the national flag, Taiwan’s first autonomous probe of Arctic glaciers, ice quakes, melting ice around the Fram Strait and other information the last year provided excellent data, Chiu said.
Taiwan’s achievements have been noted by the international community, and its researchers have been invited to participate in the upcoming Arctic Forum, he added.
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