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NSYSU’s research team appears on Nature with Formation and Fate of Internal Waves in the South China Sea

Yu-Huai Wang

NSYSU Department of Oceanography

Research Interests: Physical oceanography, coastal hydrodynamics, instrumentations and field observations


The Formation and Fate of Internal Waves in the South China Sea, an article published by the team led by Associate Professor Yu-Huai Wang in collaboration with international research partners, was published in the latest edition of Nature (521, 07 May 2015). This research examined the mechanism of generation of internal gravity waves, variability and energy budget, etc. The findings are expected to benefit related researches such as heat transfer, carbon cycle, global warming and submarine safety. 


Formation and Fate of Internal Waves in the South China Sea

This paper published in Nature is the fruit of many scientists from different countries, led by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Ministry of Science and Technology of the R.O.C, participated by a lineup of 25 international universities and research organizations including the Institute of Oceanography of National Taiwan University and the Department of Oceanography, NSYSU. This paper complied key researches of the South Sea published in the last 10 years, and used the latest observation equipment such as Glider, PIES, Turbulence Profiler, ADCP, Fast CTD, and many others.   


South Sea offers tremendous amount of unknown energy

Observations and findings showed that the ocean’s most powerful internal tides are generated in the Luzon Strait of the South China Sea and steepen dramatically as they propagate west forming internal soliton. The waves began as sinusoidal disturbances rather than arising from sharp hydraulic phenomena; and the existence of 150-200-metre-high breaking internal waves in the region of generation that gave rise to extremely turbulence levels were revealed. Half of the energy dissipates when the waves break on the submarine ridge, but part of the energy remains, becoming internal waves that rebounding back into the oceans in different directions .


Importance of Internal Waves in the South China Sea

There were many drivers to carry out this research, but what motivated Professor Wang was that “South China Sea is Taiwan’s inherent territory”. Co-authors also included NSYSU’s assistant researcher I-Huan Lee and doctorate student Ke-Hsien Fu.


The South China Sea Research Project, a Sino-Taiwan Cooperation

The 10 person research team led by Professor Wang was impressed with their American counterparts, from training, to clear responsibilities, to open communication channel. He added that the US research team was well funded and had advanced equipment; yet they were highly efficient and fully respectful in the division of labor in spite each being a top scientist, so as to prevent a duplication of resources. .


The study of oceanography is a hard and tedious process, requiring long-term dedication and determination to overcome the monstrosity and challenges of assembling data. Professor Wang is deeply thankful of the many government organs for their continuous and unwavering support of the Internal Waves project. All the accolades he and his team received were the results of standing on the shoulders of giants.

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