In March 2017, the National Development and Reform Commission of China formally approved the “National Major Science and Technology Infrastructure Project Proposal of Undersea Scientific Observation Network”, a project to be led by Tongji University for overall coordination. Tongji University and the Acoustics Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences jointly act as its legal entity, with the competent authorities being the Ministry of Education, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Shanghai Municipality. The Undersea Scientific Observation Network is the country’s first major seabed based national science and technology infrastructure.
The National Undersea Scientific Observation Network Project will establish scientific observation networks based on the connection of photoelectric composite cables in the seabed of the East China Sea and the South China Sea respectively. It can achieve full-scale, comprehensive, real-time high-resolution stereoscopic observations from seafloor to sea surface, and carry out stereoscopic observation of ecological environment and marine disasters. At the same time, it will build a monitoring and data center in Lingang area, Shanghai, to monitor the entire subsea scientific observation system and data storage and management. After its completion, the network will focus on four key frontier scientific issues such as land-sea interaction, ocean circulation and sediment transport, marine carbon cycle processes, and deep seabed processes under the influence of strong human activities. At present, more than 10 countries including Canada, the United States, and Japan have undersea observation networks. The National Undersea Scientific Observation Network will finally become an internationally advanced submarine observation and research facility with an overall world-class international level and comprehensive indicators. It will establish an open and shared major scientific platform for Chinese marine scientific research and satisfy comprehensive requirements for the National Defense Security and State Rights, resource development, marine disaster prediction and many other aspects.
The construction of the National Undersea Scientific Observation Network consists of three main parts: the East China Sea Undersea Observation Subnet, the South China Sea Undersea Observation Subnet, the Monitoring and Data Center, and the supporting equipment. With a construction period of 5 years and a total investment of more than RMB 2.1 billion, the project will be run for a long time after its completion. In accordance with the principles of “openness, cooperation, and resource sharing”, it will open up to multiple users and different fields to promote scientific research and exchanges at home and abroad.