Storm Surge Expert Turns Eye to Red Tide

The Chinese "father of storm surge theory," Prof. Zeng-Hao Qin, is visiting scholar for the spring semester at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's School for Marine Sciences and Technology in New Bedford.

Storm Surge Expert Turns Eye to Red Tide 

The Chinese "father of storm surge theory," Prof. Zeng-Hao Qin, is visiting scholar for the spring semester at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's School for Marine Sciences and Technology in New Bedford. 

Qin is renowned in China for his theory of the mechanism of storm surge, a destructive force that has become all too familiar to South Coast residents over the years. Reliable predictions of storm surge can save countless lives and such predictions in China are built upon Qin's founding work. 

Qin is in residence in the laboratory of SMAST ocean modeler Prof. Changsheng Chen. The two researchers are seeking to apply state-of-the-art ocean modeling technology to the problem of "red tide" in the East China, Yellow, and Bohai Seas. 

The jump from storm surge to red tide is not as big as it might seem. Storms have been implicated in the phenomenon. In 1972, for instance, when toxic algal blooms were still relatively unknown in Massachusetts, Hurricane Carrie is believed to have ushered in the modern era of red tide here by seeding the New England coast with red tide organisms picked up in the Bay of Fundy. 

In China, the past decade has seen a dramatic increase in the areal extent of the blooms of noxious algae that threaten the huge aquaculture industry along the country's east coast, which supplies most of the seafood in the Chinese diet. In a recent manuscript, Chen and his co-authors warn that these red tide blooms could become a regional ecosystem disaster, with possible downstream contamination of Korea and Japan. 

The situation is complicated, involving the Changjiang River—which drains the waste of boomtown Shanghai—and the Taiwan Warm Current, which may carry the cysts of the red tide algae as it sweeps up from the south toward the Yellow Sea. The two researchers reckon that an international collaboration, combining Chen's modeling technology with Qin's data collection and analysis, is required to resolve the dynamics that control the blooms. 

Prof. Qin is Senior Research Scientist at Shanghai Typhoon Institute, and concurrent Professor at three prestigious institutions: the Nanjing Institute of Meteorology, the Chinese Air Force Institute of Meteorology, and the Ocean University of Qingdao, China's premier university for marine sciences.Qin's work has been recognized by numerous awards, including the National Science and Technology Progress Prize of China, the Natural Science Prize of China, and two Science and Technology Progress Prizes awarded by the Chinese Meteorological Administration. 

Qin is currently studying the role of large-scale ocean-atmosphere interaction in cyclone outbreaks over the Yellow and East China Seas. With support from the Chinese Navy, he is also working on a system for forecasting winds and waves over the global oceans. 


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