Sanae Chiba - Senior Scientist, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology

The Japanese contribution to the North Pacific CPR Program has just started under the collaboration of scientists from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) and the Fisheries Research Agency (FRA).

The NP-CPR observation was launched in 1997 by SAHFOS and has been conducted with the recommendation by PICES. Although Japan has been sending members to the PICES NP-CPR Advisory Panel since the early years of the program, there had been no positive action taken for involvement in actual observations or research activities. Its advantages and benefits have been widely recognised, particularly in terms of ecosystem monitoring in oceanic areas, where sparse information has been available.

The new microscope with Sanae Chiba

With that background, my colleagues and I obtained a research fund from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) towards our involvement in the NP-CPR Program in 2009. With a small budget and personnel, our task is so far limited to the analysis of samples and data taken in the area of west of 170°E along the North Pacific CPR transects that has been conducted by SAHFOS.

Our research at present does not receive any budgetary support at institutional level except in-kind money as our salary. We hope our attempt will be a good start for future expansion of research/observation leading to the institutional-based initiative to the project rather than the present, personal-based involvement. Establishment of GACS will definitely push the Japanese community to turn to the program.

As we analyse the sector of existing transects, we follow the exactly same analytical protocol that SAHFOS designates. We have visited SAHFOS in Plymouth several times to learn all these protocols and subsequently now undertake microscopic analysis with a CPR microscope at the laboratory of the FRA, Yokohama. We really enjoy working with SAHFOS people and are looking forward to collaborating with international colleagues, in addition, to promote global scale ecosystem monitoring through GACS activities.

Tomoko Yoshiki training the SAHFOS analyst team

Research Focus

We have been conducting retrospective analysis of the lower trophic levels in the western North Pacific using historically collected zooplankton time-series, the Odate Collection (1960s-2000). This has resulted in the detection of ecosystem responses to climatic forcing of various time scales, e.g. Pacific Decadal Oscillation and ENSO cycle, and anthropogenic warming trend, although unfortunately there is no up-to-date Odate Collection data available.

For the NP-CPR research, our particular interests are:

  1. interaction between variations in the lower trophic level structure and regional carbon flux in the western NP, which will be conducted via collaboration with JAMSTEC's Biogeochemical Research Team
  2. regional comparison of the observed ecosystem variability and mechanisms linking climate, environment and ecosystem, which are considered quite regionally specific. GACS activities will be invaluable to tackle the second goal.