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NTU Department of Geosciences Professor Hongye Chen discovered that typhoons were effective in strengthening carbon sequestration. His research results were published in the internationally famous journal "Nature-geoscience."

Taiwan experiences about four typhoons every year. Although these typhoons caused geological disasters such as landfalls and mudslides, the large amount of rainwater erosion brought forth by these typhoons was also conducive to the reduction of carbon contents in the soils and vegetations on the Taiwan island. The internationally renowned journal on geosciences "Nature-geoscience" published the research results of Cambridge University and National Taiwan University in its recent issue.

Dr. Robert G. Hilton of the Cambridge University indicated that, typhoonsplayed a important role in the process of atmospheric carbons being washed away to the oceans and buried as sediments. Dr. Hilton and his colleagues, and research partners from Taiwan, analyzed the ingredients of the sediments of Li-wu River (located in the Eastern part of Taiwan) during the Mindulle (2004) and Aere(2004) typhoons. They tried to measure the proportion of organic carbon in the river water. (Organic carbons are the carbon dioxides existing in the atmosphere) Their research results showed that, the average deposits of organic carbons in the Li-wu river basin averaged between 16-202 tons per square kilometer every year, one of the highest in the world.

The research team also compared the erosion rate of the Taiwan island over the past several decades. After scrupulous analyses and comparisons, the research team inferred that about 80% to 90% of the organic carbons were transported by the large amount of water discharge from the upstream mountains to the downstream oceans during typhoon induced landfalls and mudslides.

Their discovery shows that the frequency and intensity of typhoons affect the speed of land based organic carbons being transported into the oceans. As a member of the research team, Dr. Hingye Chen of NTU's Department of Geosciences maintains that, during the typhoon season, large amounts of rainfall will directly inject highly concentrated sediments into the deep sea, thereby forming a long term carbon burial system in the oceans surrounding Taiwan.

This phenomenon, in so far as Nature is concerned, is actually carbon reductive. Broadly categorized as "carbon sequestration system," this phenomenon has become one of the hot topics in geo-scientific research around the world. Although the importance of global carbon sequestration is still under assessment, the correlation between typhoons and carbon cycle is bound to influence the frequency and intensity of Taiwan's typhoons in the future.

In addition, this research serves to interpret the reverse feedback relationship between tropical cyclones and the erosion of terrestrial biopheres. NTU and Cambridge University's research results are reported in many international media, for detailed information, please consult the following:

New Scientist

The Discovery Channel

Environmental Research

Cosmos Magazine

The Daily Telegraph


The New York Times

The Straits Times (Singapore)

The China Post

Chinese version