Agreement towards publicly available seafloor maps

April 1st, 2019, Published in Articles: PositionIT, Featured: PositionIT

The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project and the Five Deeps Expedition have signed an agreement which lays the groundwork for previously unexplored areas of the seafloor to be mapped and the resulting data made available for public use.

Signed at the headquarters of the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO) in Monaco, the agreement establishes a partnership between Seabed 2030 and the Five Deeps Expedition in recognition that both parties are working to increase humanity’s collective scientific understanding of the world’s oceans.

Victor Vescovo (left) and Dr Graham Allen (right) sign the agreement in the presence of Dr Mathias Jonas, secretary general of the International Hydrographic Organization.

Victor Vescovo (left) and Dr Graham Allen (right) sign the agreement in the presence of Dr Mathias Jonas, secretary general of the International Hydrographic Organization.

Seabed 2030 is a collaborative project between The Nippon Foundation and GEBCO to inspire the complete mapping of the world’s ocean by 2030, and to compile all bathymetric data into the freely available GEBCO Ocean Map. GEBCO is a joint project of the IHO and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), and is the only organisation with a mandate to map the entire ocean floor.

The Five Deeps Expedition is the world’s first manned expedition to the deepest point in each of the five oceans. It was founded and is sponsored by undersea explorer and private equity investor Victor Vescovo, who is one of only a handful of people to have climbed to the highest peak on all seven continents as well as ski to both poles, and last December became the first person to reach the deepest point of the Atlantic Ocean – the Puerto Rico Trench, almost 8 km beneath the water’s surface – piloting a specially engineered Triton submarine.

The agreement creates a number of pathways for the two organisations to collaborate in order to source and share new maritime data for the benefit of science. In the first instance, the Five Deeps expedition must produce detailed bathymetric maps of each of the five trenches before each dive to ensure the safety of its operations. It has been agreed that all of this high-resolution data will be donated to Seabed 2030 for inclusion in the global map of the ocean floor.

In addition to data gathered at trench sites, the Five Deeps Expedition has agreed to leave its sonar systems switched on while in transit in order to provide additional bathymetric data collected between these areas. These contributions represent data that would not otherwise have been collected. In return, Seabed 2030 has agreed to enlist experts to operate the on-board sonar systems to collect the transit data, at no cost to the expedition. This represents an opportunity for graduates of The Nippon Foundation/GEBCO Training Programme at the University of New Hampshire’s Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping, some of whom have already been recruited to work aboard the expedition for the purposes of collecting transit data.

All data collected and shared with the Seabed 2030 Project will be included in the global grid – the most complete bathymetric dataset of the world’s ocean floor. By the year 2030, this grid will represent a complete map to coincide with the conclusion of the United Nations’ Decade of Ocean Science.

Contact Seabed 2030 Project, seabed2030.gebco.net

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