Schmidt Ocean gives Seabed 2030 1 million sq km of survey data

18 December 2019

Schmidt Ocean Institute recently completed the mapping of its first million square kilometres of ocean floor and simultaneous committed to sharing its data with The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project.

A Memorandum of Understanding, signed at the Royal Society in London, will see the not-for-profit organisation, which is dedicated to advancing the world's understanding of the ocean through the use of cutting-edge science and technology, intelligent observation and the open sharing of information, release all of its data to the initiative to create a detailed, freely available chart the entire global seafloor over the next decade.

GEBCO (General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans) is the only organisation with a mandate to map the ocean floor. Schmidt Ocean is now one of more than one hundred organisations formally supporting the Seabed 2030 Project. Seabed 2030 has four Regional Centres, based in strategically located areas of the world, which feed data into a Global Centre hosted at the British Oceanographic Data Centre in Southampton, UK. Since the publication of the 2014 GEBCO map, Seabed 2030 has seen a doubling of the bathymetric data available to meet its objective.

Schmidt Ocean's data accounts for 3% of the 15% of the ocean which has now been mapped and has resulted in the identification of 14 new underwater features such as mountains and canyons, exotic hydrothermal vent forests. The organisation offers something unique to Seabed 2030 owing to its focus on mapping remote regions which require high resolution seafloor imagery to contribute to expansion or additional protections. Some of its large projects to date havw focused on the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Hawaii, the Cocos Island National Park in Costa Rica and the Phoenix Islands Protected Area in Kiribati. 

In addition, Schmidt Ocean has also established dedicated mapping expeditions such as 'Mapping the Gaps' which sees its own 83-metre research vessel, R/V Falkor, being used to help plug any holes in previously collected datasets.

"What is important is that these maps are open-source and available to anyone from any country," said Schmidt Ocean Operations Director Eric King. "This effort can only be achieved through cooperation and collaboration. Everyone who travels, explores, or uses our oceans has a role to play and can benefit from this initiative." 

Additionally, the new Seabed 2030 Project Director, Jamie McMichael-Phillips, has recently taken up his position, leading one of the most challenging projects of the next decade. As well as his previous roles in the Royal Navy and as Head of Partnering and Engagement for the UK Hydrographic Office, for over nine years, he also chaired the International Hydrographic Organization's Worldwide Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC) Database working group. On his latest appointment, he commented "the shape of the ocean is fundamental to how we predict climate change, tsunami modelling, ocean currents circulation, weather patterns and how we sustainably manage the oceans".

Seabed 2030 compliments the goals of the United Nations Sustainable Development 14 and the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development which commences in 2021.

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