PUSAT KAJIAN SAMUDERA & PANTAI -- Universiti Sains Malaysia

Tracking climate change

              (Left pic, right) Prof Brian Helmuth from Northeastern University preparing to plant a permanent data logger on a rocky surface in Teluk Bahang. — Photos: CHAN BOON KAI/The Star
             (Left pic, right) Prof Brian Helmuth from Northeastern University preparing to plant a permanent                       data logger on a rocky surface in Teluk Bahang. — Photos: CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

Scientists from three universities have planted several permanent data loggers into seashore rocks in Teluk Bahang, Penang, at the intertidal zone to get data on global warming.

Thirty professors and students from Hong Kong University, Northeastern University in Boston, United States, and Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) have chosen Teluk Bahang shores to be the site for recording data on climate change.

Northeastern University marine scientist Professor Mark Patterson said the data loggers would record the temperature of the intertidal zone for many years.

“We will take the readings and compare them. The intertidal zone is a good place to see global climate change,” Prof Patterson, who is the professor-in-charge, said.

Held from July 15 to 20 at USM’s Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies (Cemacs) in Teluk Bahang, the course aimed to expose undergraduates aged between 20 and 25 years to sustainability challenges along coasts when cities are nearby.

                                 Cemacs senior science officer Sim Yee Kwang showing a permanent data logger (left) and the readings recorded on a phone app.
                                Cemacs senior science officer Sim Yee Kwang showing a permanent data logger (left) and the readings
                                recorded on a phone app.

Prof Patterson said students would travel to the seas in Hong Kong, Penang and New England throughout the five-week programme.

“By studying the seas in different countries, students get to compare living sea creatures and situations in Hong Kong, George Town and Boston.

“The students also get to find solutions to global problems besides sharing and exchanging knowledge.

“The programme revolves around four themes: food security, biodiversity, land usage and the roles of stakeholders.

“We are focusing on food security in terms of commercial fishing versus raising seafood and the students took some measurements of intertidal creatures such as barnacles, mussels and crabs,” he said.

                                                                         Prof Williams: Students got to experience different places, cultures and biology as the course was conducted in three countries
                   Prof Williams: Students got to experience different places, cultures and biology as the course was conducted in three countries

Northeastern University student Michael Wu, 22, said it was his first time travelling abroad while attending a course in university.

“I had always wanted to do something different.

“Studying biology for sustainability is different from business courses as we are more hands-on and I get many first-hand experiences.

“I get to touch and feel sea creatures and be in the environment,” the final-year business student said.

Wu said he was interested in joining environmental organisations to infuse the knowledge learned from his business degree to help the environment.

Marine biology masters student Nurra Nuramira Syahira Saffian, 24, said they used the comparable transect method to calculate species of sea creatures at Cemacs.

“We measured and compared the number of species during low tide and high tide,” she said.

 

                                 The jetty leading to Cemacs in Teluk Bahang.
                                                                          The jetty leading to Cemacs in Teluk Bahang.

Hong Kong University’s The Swire Institute of Marine Science director Prof Gray A. Williams said students got to experience different places, cultures and biology as the course was conducted in three countries.

“Cemacs is a marine laboratory which has a rainforest, sandy beaches, rocky shores and fantastic food all around.

“We have all these ecosystems in one place within walking distance.

“Therefore, there is no time limitations for us to carry out the studies,” he said.

Cemacs director Prof Datuk Dr Aileen Tan said the summer course was one of USM’s efforts to internationalise USM.

“Cemacs, the oldest marine station in the nation, is recognised as a marine centre focusing on sustainable research and championing invertebrate studies and is also a living laboratory.

“It is like a classroom which provides opportunities for people to stop by and experience many ecosystems,” she said.



 

Source: The Star Online

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Universiti Sains Malaysia.
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