Development of systems for evaluating regional water and material cycles in East Asia (Core research project 2)
  In the watersheds of East Asia, such as the Changjiang River basin and the Yellow River basin, an increase of water demand and water contaminants due to rapid economic growth, and water shortage and water pollution in the continental areas is accelerating the deterioration of ecological systems in coastal and marine areas. The cities depend on the catchments, but at the same time, they are causing damage to them, and the issues of energy and water resource conservation and preserving water quality in the cities are becoming more serious than ever. These issues affect directly or indirectly not only China, but also Japan and other countries in East Asia. It is imperative to assess these effects and the efficacy and applicability of countermeasure technologies and policies qualitatively and establish a scientific foundation for sustainable management of the water environment.
  The comprehensive tools needed for sustainable management of the water environment and water resources of East Asia are developed by gathering scientific knowledge and information through strategic international collaborative research. This core research project has been developing a system for the observation and evaluation of water and material cycles in catchment ecosystems by coupling satellite monitoring with an integrated catchment model. The aim is to investigate the health status of catchment ecosystems, oceanic ecosystems, and Asian cities. This core project mainly involves:
  1. Improving integrated observation systems by developing novel measurement and observation methods and remote-sensing observation technologies to assess regional water and material cycles through collaboration with national and international organizations
  2. Creating an environmental information database covering water, thermal, and material cycles based on satellite, GIS, and observation data
  3. Developing a model to assess water and material cycles through research on how regional meteorological, terrain, and land-cover conditions interact with each other based on the observation networks and databases mentioned above
  4. Assessing and predicting how human-induced changes in climate, land use, and land cover affect water cycles (e.g. water shortages, floods) and material cycles (e.g. carbon and nitrogen cycles)
  5. Organizing a technology inventory for regional environmental management, and constructing an indicative system for watershed sustainability assessment in order to evaluate and design appropriate technology systems and policy programs based on the introduction of technology

Development of a system for the observation and evaluation of water and material cycles in a catchment ecosystem

  The Asian Water Environment Section has developed a system for the observation and evaluation of water and material cycles in a catchment ecosystem of East Asia. Field surveys have been conducted since 2006 along the Hanjiang (Han River), one of the largest tributaries of the Changjiang (Yangtze River) and the source river for the middle route of South-to-North Water Diversion Project in China. An autonomous water quality monitoring system was established in December 2007 at Xiantao Hydrological Station in cooperation with the Changjiang Water Resources Commission (CWRC).
  To assess the sustainability of rural management in the Hanjiang basin, the impact of human behaviors (in terms of food consumption, lifestyle patterns, and human waste disposal) on nitrogen flow has been investigated since 2007. At the same time, the structure, content, format, and framework of a database were developed from satellite, GIS, and observation data taken from the basins of East Asian rivers. Some of the data, such as those on climatic factors, geographic features, land-cover maps, and soil properties, as well as part of the socioeconomic inventory and the hydrological data have been input into the database.
  An integrated assessment model for the evaluation of water and material cycles has been improved on the basis of the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) and the biogeochemical cycles (Biome-BGC) model. The model has been running experimentally for the target river basins in China. We will try to validate the model by using observation data through cooperation with our counterparts.
  To make further progress in research with CWRC, the Second Sino–Japan River Basin Water Environment Workshop was held in Tsukuba, Japan, in June 2007. Also, to investigate the influence of the Changjiang water on the oceanic environment and ecosystem, an investigative cruise was held in the East China Sea in June 2007. Of the 5 such cruises held so far, this cruise found the largest blooms yet recorded of the dinoflagellate Prorocentrum dentatum, which occurs as a red tide along the coast of China.

Development of a comprehensive Circular Economy Urban Simulator to design and evaluate alternative environmental technology and policy scenarios

  The Environmental Technology Assessment System Section developed a comprehensive system called the “Circular Economy Urban Simulator” to simulate the material cycling policies of Asian cities. The simulator provides practical scientific platforms covering water resources management, urban energy management, and solid waste management for industrial Asian cities. It consists of an urban environmental GIS database; a technology and policy inventory for circular economies; and integrative analytical models for water and energy migration, socioeconomic transportation, evaluation indicators, and decision-support process design. The GIS database compiles environmental monitoring information from municipal governments, including water resources and solid waste data, and statistical socioeconomic information such as demographic data and industrial and sales information, all of which is supplemented by satellite photo data.
  The technology inventory covers end-of-pipe–type environmental treatment technologies, cleaner technologies, and industrial symbiotic technologies, which are applied to the city of interest along with coordinated social technologies such as regulation and subsidization. The integrative analytical model was developed for quantitative analysis of the spatial distribution and migration properties of different flows and stocks of environmental resources, including water, atmosphere, heat, energy, and material recycling, in urban areas.
  A three-dimensional physically based process model (NICE-URBAN) was developed to estimate the quantities of water and heat recycling in the study area, including in the atmosphere, soil, and underground water systems. It can evaluate the impacts of human activities on the natural ecosystem. The accuracy of the simulator was verified in the domestic industrial city of Kawasaki. Applications of the model for use in Chinese cities and regions are being developed in cooperation with the Liaoning Provincial Government and the cities of Shenyang and Wuhan, and with our counterparts at Dalian University of Technology and Wuhan University.