News & AnalysisOceanography

China Makes Waves With Ambitious Ocean Research Plan

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Science  06 Jan 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6064, pp. 24
DOI: 10.1126/science.335.6064.24

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Last July, China joined an elite set of nations capable of crewed exploration of the deep sea. This coming summer, the Jiaolong submersible will carry out its first research mission in a region of high scientific and political significance: the South China Sea, whose sediments hold clues to the evolution of the East Asia monsoon and how tropical conditions over the eons have influenced global climate patterns. But politics cast a shadow over these efforts. China claims sovereignty over a wide swath of the South China Sea, which has sparked territorial disputes with six neighbors. At stake are rich fishing grounds and seabed resources, including gas hydrate reserves.