FORSGC FRONTIERNewsletter No.12 Oct.2000

Frontier Observational Research System for Global Change
This column explains the activities of the FORSGC, which is working together with the FRSGC on research into global changes. Dr.Hiroshi Hotta, the new Director-General of FORSGC, will explain the concept of the FORSGC and future activities. Dr.Hiroshi Hotta was appointed as Director- General in July 2000.

On FORSGC and Being appointed as a Director-General

Dr.Hiroshi Hotta(Director-General, FORSGC)

I was appointed to the position of Director-General at the Frontier Observation Research System for Global Change (FORSGC) on July 1 this year and I am keenly aware of the heavy responsibilities that I have undertaken.

I believe that one of the things that we recently are most concerned about is how the global environment will be changed in the future. About three years ago the Frontier Research System for Global Change (FRSGC) was started on modeling research and to give answers on this issue as soon as possible. Following this effort, the Frontier Observation Research System for Global Change (FORSGC) was also established in the summer of last year to observe accurately and evenly in space and time the status of the natural environment which showed us a true indication of the status of the earth. One of the important roles of the FORSGC is suitably to provide the data required for modeling research through close contact with the FRSGC. The Climate Variations Observational Research Program and the Hydrological Cycle Observational Research Program were selected to be the first starting programs as the FORSGC. And two new groups, the Coupled Ocean-Ice-Atmosphere System Group and the Multi-Disciplinary group, which are part of the International Arctic Research Center (IARC) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, started their own programs in the arctic region at the same time.

In addition to these research activities we are preparing to undertake another new research program, the Global Warming Observational Research Program, in order to ascertain whether or not the earth is being subjected to global warming as everyone fears. We think it is necessary to undertake more systematic research into material cycle, especially carbon cycle. The target area of research is the Northwestern Pacific Ocean that has been considered as one of the largest absorption regions of carbon over the world. The weather in this region from fall through spring is really bad, and it has prevented any ordinary size of research vessel to make observation in the past. However, JAMSTEC has the world's largest research vessel, the R/V Mirai, and if the vessel is used for the program it is positively expected to realize research observation during such sever periods and some new scientific facts will come to light as a result. Such "Discovery of the new facts"is one of the most important roles of FORSGC as well. We are planning to set a core laboratory of the Global Warming Research Program at the newly opened Mutsu Institution in Aomori Prefecture, where JAMSTEC equipped several research facilities so far.

Near Jakobshavn, Greenland.
The ice sheet that covered the continent has fallen into the ocean and is floating on the surface of the sea.
Source: The Ocean: An Unknown World (NHK Publishing)
It goes without saying that highly dedicated researchers must be invited not only from the Japanese scientists community but also from all over the world to develop these observational research programs. Also top leveled observation specialists are needed to make sure the observation is done properly. The key to the success of the observational research is teamwork by these leading researchers and observation specialists. Furthermore, it is important that the scientists themselves are placed in the natural environment for the observational research which bring, therefore, some unexpected and/or unknown risks. Adequate research plans must be carefully made in advance, and all activities must be conducted with the utmost caution. This is the greatest difference from modeling research, and it is the reason why researchers in the observational research are preferred to be intent on their own program without other jobs or research programs.

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