The Race to Make a High-Resolution Map of the World’s Oceans
While 71 percent of the Earth is covered by the ocean, less than 15 percent of the ocean floor has been mapped at greater than a 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) resolution.
“We have higher-resolution maps of the entire surface of the Moon, Venus, and Mars than we do of our own planet,” said Esri chief scientist Dawn Wright. Other earth scientists have also noted this deficiency.
The Seabed 2030 project, sponsored by The Nippon Foundation and General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO), plans to improve that situation by mapping the entire ocean floor by 2030. [See the accompanying article in this issue, “ Joining Together to Map the World’s Seafloor,” to learn more about GEBCO.]
Announced in 2018, the project’s goal is to build the technical, scientific, and management framework necessary to develop and compile high-resolution bathymetric information of the entire ocean floor into a seamless digital map.
The traditional methods for terrestrial and extraterrestrial mapping use electromagnetic waves, such as radar and light, which are not effective in ocean water that is more than a few meters deep. While...