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Asia Minute: Japan Cuts Back on Ocean Monitoring

Matthew Fern / Flickr
Matthew Fern / Flickr

This week’s high surf around the islands is a seasonal occurrence, with the intensity varying depending on a number of factors. An important part of tracking developments is a vast network of buoys across the Pacific that also monitors the impact of El Nino.  And there is news this week that part of that network has been cut. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

There’s a report this week that Japan has cut back the number of buoys it operates in the western Pacific to monitor changes in the ocean.  Bloomberg says the country’s Agency for Marine-Earth Science and 

Technology has stopped maintaining seven buoys in the region.  The instruments measure wind speed and water temperatures, current speeds and ocean salinity.  The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration handles most of the buoys that are strung across the Pacific… but Bloomberg reports Japan’s government has cut back on spending in this  area—and plans to take another four or five buoys off line next year.

Monitoring the Pacific Ocean is a multinational project---and one that is currently under review.  Seven nations around the Pacific Rim—including the United States and Japan--are part of the Tropical Pacific Observing System.  That group is working to upgrade the way scientists track data across the ocean—including weather patterns and emergency information.  The project is called TPOS 20-20---and according to the group’s website, it “aims for enhanced effectiveness” among all the countries involved.   The latest update from last week says “a great deal of activity and discussion” has been focused on generating content for the rough draft of an interim report—due later this year.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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