Wednesday, July 21, 2021

First Country Signs Up for Revolutionary Bathymetric Mapping Survey

Seabed Known 'Less Well than the Surface of Mars'
Shipping News Feature

NEW ZEALAND – WORLDWIDE – This week New Zealand became the first country to sign up to a global seabed mapping project, to map the world's entire ocean floor by 2030. Seabed 2030 is a collaborative project between The Nippon Foundation and the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) aimed at compiling all bathymetric data into the freely available GEBCO Ocean Map.

So far just 20% of the world’s ocean floor has been mapped to modern standards with GEBCO, a joint project of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), and is the only organisation with a mandate to map the entire ocean floor. Jamie McMichael-Phillips, Seabed 2030 Director commented:

“The New Zealand signing is significant for Seabed 2030 as it’s the first full Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between a Government and the Project. As a host of one of our regional centres, New Zealand has provided steadfast support to Seabed 2030 from the outset and we look forward to building on our collaboration in the race towards achieving our mission. We call upon other countries to join us in our goal of a complete map of the ocean floor, an apparatus which will help us better understand planet Earth.”

The MoA covers working to advance our understanding of ocean bathymetry and complements the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science in Support of Sustainable Development. Seabed 2030 is one of the first actions officially endorsed as part of the UN Ocean Decade. In New Zealand Toitū Te Whenua, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd (NIWA) and GNS Science are working together to jointly govern data assembly and coordination. Chief Executive of Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand, Gaye Searancke signed the MoA and said:

“New Zealand is proud to be leading the way with this work. Mapping the seabed floor is critical to our knowledge about climate and weather patterns, tides, wave action, sediment transport, tsunami wave propagation and underwater geo-hazards.”

Jamie McMichael-Phillips linking in by video from the UK, signed the agreement on behalf of the Project with NIWA Environmental Management Programme Leader Kevin Mackay saying the move marked a significant step forward while good progress is being made to meet the 2030 target. GNS Science Crustal Geophysics Team Leader Vaughan Stagpoole added:

“GNS Science is pleased to be partnering with Toitū Te Whenua and NIWA on this project. As Aotearoa New Zealand sits on top of the mostly-submerged continent of Te Riu-a-Māui / Zealandia, ocean science is really important, so we can understand global-scale environmental change, natural hazards and sustainable resources.

“Just as topographic maps help our land-based science, bathymetry is vital for our marine projects. Our seabed is less known than the surface of Mars, and this will be the decade to improve on this. This agreement is a major milestone and it will lead to better outcomes for Aotearoa New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific region, greater understanding of hazards, important new ocean discoveries and a more sustainable and resilient future.”