SHANGHAI - China and the European Union have strengthened their cooperation in space technology to better monitor climate change and improve the ability to prevent and control natural disasters.
At a conference entitled "Let's Embrace Space", held by the EU pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo, Reinhard Schulte Braucks, head of Unit Space Research and Development, European Commission, said air pollution is a common problem facing the entire world. He said China and the EU should strengthen cooperation and act to improve air quality monitoring.
Further, China's Ministry of Science and Technology and the European Space Agency are conducting a cooperation project-DRAGONESS, which is China's largest international cooperation project in the field of earth observation.
The project includes joint scientific research, sharing data, technological training and an exchange of scholars.
Braucks said China has many resources that the EU doesn't have. China has sent many satellites into orbit, which can provide a large quantity of important data. Besides that, he said Chinese and European scientists are able to share their complementary knowledge regarding space and technology.
Zhang Peng, a researcher with the National Satellite Meteorological Center of the China Meteorological Administration, said "Within the framework of DRAGONESS, Chinese and European scientists combine the satellite data of the two sides to monitor the climate and offer advice to the environmental protection departments."
"The research will help evaluate the changing process of greenhouse gases in the long term," Zhang said.
Gao Zhihai, a researcher with the Institute of Resources Information of the Chinese Academy of Forestry Sciences, said Sino-EU cooperation also plays an important role in natural disaster monitoring.
"After the two devastating earthquakes in Wenchuan, Southwest China's Sichuan province in 2008, and in Yushu, Northwest China's Qinghai province in 2010, the EU provided China with timely disaster monitoring data which effectively supported the disaster relief works and rehabilitation," Gao said.
He added "The two sides should strengthen sharing and application of space research data in the future to improve the monitoring and evaluation of earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters."
Piao Shilong, a professor with Peking University, said the university and EU launched a joint project in April this year to study the carbon sources and carbon sinks in China.
A carbon sink is a component of the carbon cycle that stores more carbon than it emits into the atmosphere. A sink can be likened to a water well. Forests and soils can become carbon sinks.
The three year project will be of great importance in controlling emissions of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, and curbing the negative effects of human activities in global climate change, Piao said.
"Through the project, China can obtain a clear picture of its carbon budget on the terrestrial ecosystem," Piao said.
"China's carbon sinks are no less than those in Europe. About 28 to 37 percent of industrial carbon emissions can be offset, similar to the level in the United States," Piao said.
The outcome of the Sino-EU joint research will answer how much greenhouse gases can be absorbed by the terrestrial system in China. The research will also provide a scientific basis for developing policies regarding curbing greenhouse gases, Piao added.