2022 Activity Report vol.1:Kanazawa University

Activity Report of Open Application Program 2022 vol.1 (Course C)

Learning about Integrated Environmental Research Techniques in Satoyama and Satoumi in the Japan Sea Rim area

Report from Institute of Nature and Environmental Technology, Kanazawa University
Professor Noriko Hasebe

 I received the notification that our project was accepted for the Sakura Science Exchange Program in April 2022, when the COVID-19 pandemic was starting to slowing down. In light of the international situation, we decided to conduct a program face-to-face. The participants are students from the National University of Mongolia, the National Taiwan University, and Yale-NUS College. Since last year, Sakura Science has expanded its scope outside Asia, so we have been able to accept diverse participants, including students from New Zealand and Canada. We explored the possibility of having an exchange even under the COVID-19 pandemic, and have been in regular contact with these institutions. The participating students eagerly looked forward to coming to Japan, so we were able to smoothly complete the invitation process.

 A major concern in implementing the program was that it would possibly worsen the spread of the virus. However, based on my experience of traveling abroad in May and June, I felt that there was no need to fear people coming to Japan, if we welcome them appropriately by getting them to take PCR tests in their countries and let them use apps for registering their test results and vaccination status.

 In this program, students studied K-INET's integrated environmental research methods for the atmosphere, ocean, and land, in the Noto and Kaga regions where the institute's branches are located. Students from Kanazawa University also participated in the program, and the participants were divided into five groups consisting of mixed members from four countries for practical study, experiments, and research.

[Practical study on marine biology and physical chemistry oceanography]

 In Noto, students conducted physical chemistry research on sea water, and studied marine organisms. Students analyzed seawater data obtained with a logger on a ship owned by a marine biological laboratory, and analyzed sea water Si concentration by looking at the color reactions. Students observed marine organisms in a variety of ways, such as going into the sea with wet suits, or using plankton nets and fish-luring lights. They also experimented how polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in heavy oils or other contaminants affect sea urchin's production.

Activity Report Photo 1
Students cutting urchin thorns to collect urchin eggs
Activity Report Photo 2
Students experimenting how contaminants affect urchins' fertilization

[Practical study on atmospheric environmental science / vegetation]

 In the lecture on atmospheric environment, practical lectures on how cloud is formed wowed the students. In the study on satoyama management, we observed the biota in paddy fields. Mongolian students who were very good at finding insects, loaches, and frogs, and some Singapore students who knew a lot about entomology taught each other what they knew and worked as teams. Students from the Taiwan were thinking about the diversity in the biota in their country's paddy fields. For vegetation, students learned about tree types and how to measure tree sizes in artificial forests and natural forests.

Activity Report Photo 3
Students artificially generating a cloud and learning about how cloud condensation nuclei works

[Practical study on inland water environment, environmental radiochemistry, and mining environment]

 In Kaga, students visited INET's facility for measuring low-level radiation, and learned about how water quality in Kibagata are managed and how biotopes affect water quality using pack testing. Students visited the Ogoya mine and learned about how mining affects the environment, how it has recovered after the impact of pollution, and the restoration of the environment after the mine was abandoned. They got informed about the topography and geology in Kaga and Noto, and visited a famous former quarry in Komatsu City where they learned about how geological resources are used.

Activity Report Photo 4
Students learning about topography and geology in a former quarry in Komatsu City

[Reporting session on the results of practical study]

 On the last day, student groups summarized and presented what they learned about during the program. According to our survey, all students were highly satisfied with the program and said that they definitely want to come to Japan again as researchers or as international students. Students talked about how they learned a wide range of environmental science techniques and how they made friends with students from other countries in this multinational program. I think that one of the big achievements in this program is that students from countries with diverse backgrounds shared their knowledge and actively interacted with each other. I was impressed by the students' eagerness to learn about things in field studies, who studied under restrictions for a long time.

Activity Report Photo 5
Student groups preparing for presentations

 As I got used to having online interactions, I thought it would be successful enough. However, as I saw students discussing, moving around, and working together with their group partners in front of my eyes, I cannot stop admiring the true power of face-to-face exchanges. Many students recommended us to continue this program. We would like to continue inviting students while improving the content until these participant students join the program as leaders. This exchange program was made possible thanks to the generous and patient support from Sakura Science. I would like to express my gratitude.