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Mapping the Ocean Floor

  Jul 18, 2020

Mapping the Ocean Floor

Why scientists want to map the ocean floor?

The knowledge of bathymetry — the measurement of the shape and depth of the ocean floor — is instrumental in understanding several natural phenomena, including ocean circulation, tides, and biological hotspots.

What is current status in mapping ocean floor?

Announcing a new milestone in the history of marine exploration, an international collaboration of researchers said on June 21 that it had finished mapping nearly one-fifth of the world’s ocean floor.

What is Seabed 2030 Project?

Seabed 2030 is a collaborative project between the Nippon Foundation of Japan and the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO). It aims to bring together all available bathymetric data to produce the definitive map of the world ocean floor by 2030 and make it available to all.

The project was launched at the United Nations (UN) Ocean Conference in June 2017 and is aligned with the UN's Sustainable Development Goal #14 to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.

It had added 1.45 crore square kilometres of new bathymetric data to its latest grid.

Why is the study of the ocean floor important?

  1.  It is instrumental in understanding several natural phenomena, including ocean circulation, tides, and biological hotspots.
  2.  It also provides key inputs for navigation, forecasting tsunamis, exploration for oil and gas projects, building offshore wind turbines, fishing resources, and for laying cables and pipelines.
  3. This data becomes highly valuable during disaster situations.
  4. Importantly, the maps would also ensure a better understanding of climate change, since floor features including canyons and underwater volcanoes influence phenomena such as the vertical mixing of ocean water, and ocean currents — which act as conveyor belts of warm and cold water, thus influencing the weather and climate
  5. A map of the entire global ocean floor would also help further achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal to conserve and sustainably use oceans, seas and marine resources.

How the data about ocean floor obtained earlier?

In the past, satellites and planes carrying altimeter instruments have been able to provide large swathes of data about the ocean floor.