Mapping 100% of the Ocean Floor by 2030With less known than about the topography of Mars, international institutions teaming up to complete a “topographical map of the ocean floor”
Location: Oceanographic Museum of Monaco
The Nippon Foundation and the Guiding Committee of the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) (*1) announced at an international forum held June 15-17 in Monaco the launch of a new project to map the topography of 100% of the world’s ocean floor by 2030. Currently, the floor of only 15% of the world’s oceans has been mapped, so it can be said that the mapping of the ocean floor topography is lagging behind the mapping of the surface of Mars. To rectify this situation, The Nippon Foundation is partnering with specialists in a wide range of fields in addition to bathymetry, including mining, the environment, and information technology, to take up the challenge of completely mapping the unknown frontier that is the ocean floor.
Attempts to map the floor of the world’s oceans date back to a call by Prince Albert I of Monaco in the early 20th century. Bathymetric information is used to ensure the safe passage of ships, to forecast the paths of typhoons and hurricanes and the effects of climate change, to understand the distribution of undersea mineral resources, and to search for the wreckage of planes that have disappeared in accidents. Having all of this information available in a complete map of the ocean floor will not only allow for the sustainable use of the oceans, it will also enhance human safety.
The Nippon Foundation has been engaged in capacity building to develop human resources for bathymetric charting since 2004 (*2), but progress in ocean floor mapping has been slow because of an acute shortage of specialists able to create and update the required data. The Nippon Foundation and the GEBCO Guiding Committee organized the forum to consolidate the knowledge and experience of experts in a wide range of fields in addition to existing bathymetric specialists, with the aim of promoting the complete mapping of the ocean floor.
The forum was attended by approximately 220 people, including The Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa and Prince Albert II of Monaco, as well as representatives of Google, NASA, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), other organizations, companies and governments, and graduates of the joint human resource capacity building program being carried out by The Nippon Foundation and GEBCO. These graduates played a key role in putting forth a concrete action plan for the realization of the forum’s challenging goal.
Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, opened the forum with two announcements. The first was the launch of a new project that will aim to map the topography of 100% of the world’s ocean floor by 2030. The second was the establishment of The Nippon Foundation – GEBCO Alumni Association, as a platform for participation by all graduates of the joint capacity building program as important players in this new project.
Prince Albert welcomed the participants and echoed Mr. Sasakawa’s remarks, noting his support for The Nippon Foundation’s and GEBCO’s capacity building program and other activities to preserve and ensure the sustainable use of the world’s oceans.
The second day featured four panel discussions dealing with the use of ocean floor topographical data, tools and technologies for creating that data, and how best to proceed with the mapping of the ocean floor. Workshops based on these discussions were held on the final day, and a future roadmap for mapping the topography of the ocean floor was formulated.
- The Guiding Committee of the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) creates the world’s only publicly available topographical maps of the ocean floor, and is jointly managed by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO and the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO).
- The Nippon Foundation has been working with the GEBCO Guiding Committee to train bathymetric specialists since 2004, and the program to date has produced 72 graduates from 33 countries (including 12 from Japan). These experts operate around the world to survey areas where no bathymetric data exists and to enhance the precision of existing bathymetric maps.
The Nippon Foundation – GEBCO Forum for Future Ocean Floor Mapping
- The Nippon Foundation / GEBCO Guiding Committee
- July 15 – 17, 2016 (Wednesday – Friday)
- Oceanographic Museum of Monaco
- HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco
Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman, The Nippon Foundation
Shin Tani, Chairman, GEBCO Guiding Committee
Dr Robert Ballard, Director of the Center for Ocean Exploration, Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island
The Nippon Foundation