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The Yellow Sea
Kim, S.; Kahng, S.-H. (2000). The Yellow Sea, in: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 2. Regional chapters: The Indian Ocean to The Pacific. pp. 487-498
In: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) (2000). Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 2. Regional chapters: The Indian Ocean to The Pacific. Pergamon: Amsterdam. ISBN 0-08-043207-7. XXI, 920 pp., more

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Document type: Review


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  • Kim, S.
  • Kahng, S.-H.

    The Yellow Sea is a semi-enclosed shelf-type shallow basin, which has relatively low water exchange with the open ocean. The residence time of water in the Yellow Sea is long, i.e. 5-6 years. This region is where the Siberian High and the subtropical Pacific Low weather systems meet producing cold, dry winters and warm, wet summers. Typhoons accompanied by heavy rains during the summer and autumn cause large quantities of fresh water runoff. The Yellow river carries 40.4 km³ of fresh water and approximately 1.0 billion tonnes of silt into the Yellow Sea every year, and the Yangtze river annually transports a further 900 km³ of fresh water and 0.47 billion tonnes of sediment. The Yellow Sea is regarded as one of the most heavily exploited seas in the world, with Korean, Chinese and Japanese fishermen targeting numerous species with multigear fisheries. Along the coastal provinces of China and Korea, there are countless small and large-scale mariculture farms rearing fish, invertebrates and seaweeds. Over the last several decades, the living resources in the Yellow Sea ecosystem have changed greatly, stressed by overfishing, environmental changes and pollution. The Yellow Sea' s water quality has been impaired in many locations by contaminants, waste material, and disturbances from human activities. Many of these threats to marine environmental quality originate from land. The coastal areas on either side of the Yellow Sea are highly populous, with approximately 600 million people residing in the area. Increasing coastal population coupled with rapid industrialization and urbanization exerts severe pressure on the marine environment. Large quantities of industrial wastewater and domestic sewage are directly discharged into the coastal waters with either little or no treatment. Nutrient loads in coastal waters have contributed to eutrophication and frequent outbreaks of red tides. Land-use change, deforestation, soil erosion and intensive farming are closely interrelated with the heavy use of chemical fertilizer and pesticides. Massive reclamation projects have created land for agriculture, industrial complexes, and coastal cities, and significant decreases of coastal wetlands have become a matter of serious concern in relation to the reduction of natural purification capabilities, loss of coastal habitats and biodiversity, and adverse effects on fisheries. The first and most serious obstacle to be overcome is a national development strategy that considers income growth as the primary national priority. In addition, the management of the Yellow Sea is especially complicated by being surrounded by nations with differing political systems and levels of economic development. International co-operation between them has begun to facilitate the prevention of damage to the environment and its resources.

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