Since June 25, 2022, the Taiwanese flag is also flying in Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen: The island state has opened its own permanent research station. The focus of Taiwanese research will be on observing glacier movement, Arctic Ocean currents and waves, surface geology and topographic development.
Until now, scientists from Taiwan had to rely on other nations and their research facilities for their Arctic research. With the new station in Longyearbyen, Taiwanese researchers now have a “home”, as Jou Jing-yang, president of the National Central University said during the opening ceremony.
The new “TaiArctic” research station is a collaboration between Taiwan’s National Central University, the National Academy of Marine Research and Poland’s Nicolaus Copernicus University. The collaboration with Nicolaus Copernicus University began last year when Taiwanese researchers joined forces with the Polish research team to study topics such as ice quakes, ice melt, ocean currents and wave changes in the Arctic Ocean, with Taiwanese autonomous measuring buoys providing important data.
“We thank the Polish scientists for creating the opportunity for Formosan black bears to meet Arctic polar bears,” said Chang Ching-sen, minister without portfolio.
Chang also emphasized that the new station and the international research project that led to the establishment of “TaiArctic” show Taiwan’s determination to participate in the observation of the North Pole. For Taiwanese researchers, he said, this is a milestone.
For Taiwan, the opening of its own station in the Arctic has another background, because as a nation that relies on maritime trade, Taiwan can now get first-hand information about climate changes observed near the North Pole, says National Academy of Marine Research President Chiu Yung-fang. With the projected gradual loss of the Arctic ice sheets after 2035 and the possible opening of Arctic sailing routes, Taiwan can benefit a lot from the knowledge gathered in northern climes, he adds.
The international community has also taken notice of Taiwan’s achievements and Taiwanese researchers have been invited to the next Arctic Forum.
Julia Hager, PolarJournal