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Exhibition explains climate and sea-level changes in HK

A new SciTech Profile exhibition on climate change starts tomorrow (July 17) at the Hong Kong Science Museum's Science News Corner.

The exhibition, Climate and Sea-Level Changes in Hong Kong During the Past 500,000 Years, presents results of research on Hong Kong's geological history from data provided by construction projects and engineering investigations along the coast of Hong Kong. The period under scrutiny is known as the Quaternary period, which is the second period of the Cenozoic era - the third and most recent geological era, lasting from about 65 million years ago to the present day.

Hong Kong has a flourishing engineering industry, and the study of excavations and boreholes could provide valuable insights into the reconstruction of climate and sea-level changes. The exhibition shows that there were five warm interglacial and five cold glacial episodes during the past 500,000 years. This pattern of environmental change fits with the Vostok ice core in Antarctica, which is recognised as the best record of climate change over the past 500,000 years.

The study also found that the sea levels in Hong Kong were similar to the present day during the warm interglacial period and were 130 meters lower during the cold glacial period. The mean annual temperature of Hong Kong during the glacial periods was estimated to be 7 to 9 degrees Celsius below that of the present-day, which is about 24 degrees Celsius. The study also provided evidence that rainfall was lower and windier conditions prevailed during the glacial periods. In addition, the lowering of the sea level during the cold stages caused the entire Hong Kong territory to be exposed to the air, and frost was common during winter in highland areas.

This study has led to a better understanding of engineering properties of sea-floor deposits that could be beneficial to the local construction industry, such as the new Hong Kong International Airport and cross-harbour tunnels. It has also shed light on the role of exposed continental shelves in the release of greenhouse gases that could trigger the end of ice ages.

The Science News Corner's "Science Window" features two new videos - "Evidence for Climate and Sea-level Changes in Hong Kong During the Past 500,000 Years" provided by the Department of Earth Sciences of the University of Hong Kong, and "The Science of Climate" provided by the Open University in the United Kingdom.

The Science News Corner's "Hot Talk" display includes "SARS Evolution Traced", "Paper DVD Disc", "Mars Exploration", and "Bring Back Stardust from a Comet".

The exhibition runs until November 7.

The Science Museum is located at 2 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon. It is open from 1pm to 9pm from Monday to Friday, and from 10am to 9pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. It is closed on Thursdays (except public holidays). Admission is $25, with a half-price concession applicable to full-time students, people with disabilities and senior citizens aged 60 or above.

For enquiries, call 2732 3232 or visit the Science Museum's website at for further information.

Ends/Friday, July 16, 2004
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