Arctic Ocean Bathymetry: A required geospatial framework


Most ocean science relies largely on a geospatial infrastructure that is built primarily from bathymetry data collected underway from ships, archived, and converted into maps and digital grids. Bathymetry, the shape and composition of the seafloor, besides having vital importance to geology and navigation, is a fundamental element of studies of ocean modeling, deep water circulation, tides, tsunami forecasting, upwelling, fishing resources, wave action, sediment transport, environmental baselines, slope stability and risk, paleoceanography, site selection for platforms cables and pipelines, waste disposal, mineral extraction and sampling for environmental research. Recent developments in multibeam sonar mapping have so dramatically increased the resolution with which the seafloor can be portrayed, understood, used by other sciences and interacted with, that previous maps must be considered obsolete and scientific conclusions based on them re-examined and refined. The downside is that only about 10% of the Arctic Ocean has been mapped with multibeam; the rest of its seafloor area is portrayed through mathematical interpolation using a very sparse depth sounding database. In order for all Arctic marine actives to benefit fully from the order of magnitude improvement that multibeam provides, the entire Arctic Ocean must be ensonified with multibeam data, a task that only can be accomplished through broad international coordination and collaboration, including both the scientific community and industry.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

The Arctic Observing Summit

Conference Date

Apr 30 - May 2, 2013


Arctic Institute of North America

Document Type

Conference Proceeding