The Chinese institute that was officially allowed to explore Benham Rise will measure ocean currents that scientists believe drive regional climate pattern, said the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP MSI), its local partner for the research cruise.

Oceanographers from the Institute of Oceanology of Chinese Academy of Sciences (IOCAS), aboard the research vessel Ke Xue and joined by a team from the UP MSI, are particularly interested in ocean current properties to further understand the climate-driving Kuroshio, said the UP MSI in a statement Thursday night.

The statement also said that studying major ocean current system dynamics is “complex and requires extensive resources,” hence the “importance” of international collaboration.

The Kuroshio current is a northward moving body of water formed by a westward counterpart that splits off the Philippine coast, said the UP MSI.

“The Kuroshio is responsible for the transport of heat to the rest of the North Pacific and therefore is an important driver of the regional climate and even the El Nino and La Nina cycles,” the statement said.

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