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China Launches Biggest-Ever Oceanic Environment Survey

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BEIJING, China -- China, hungry for oil and minerals, has launched its fourth and biggest-ever oceanic environment survey to probe the conditions of its vast maritime space.

The survey will last two years and cover 1.02 million square kilometres of sea area off China's coasts.

Scientists will record data on water depths, waves, water levels, ocean currents, water temperatures and colours, mineral contents and plankton in four seasons.

The research findings are expected to guide development of the maritime economy, tapping of oceanic resources, maritime disaster relief and prevention, and oceanic environmental protection.

The programme is part of a comprehensive survey and evaluation project on China's inshore ocean launched in 2003. There have been three ocean surveys since the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, Xinhua news agency reported.

The first summer phase of the programme is expected to take 1.5 months and involve over 3,000 surveyors who will begin research from the northeast coast down to the south simultaneously, vice director of the National Bureau of Oceanography, Lei Bo said.

The eastern part of the Chinese mainland is flanked from north to south by the Bohai Sea, the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and the South China Sea, all merging with the Pacific Ocean. Of these, the South China Sea is a deep-sea basin, and the rest are on the shallow continental shelf. The eastern coast of Taiwan island is bounded directly by the pacific.

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