mapping tagged posts

Scientists Create the First Complete Map of the World’s Coral Reefs

Ailinginae Atoll in the Marshall Islands. (photo by Greg Asner; courtesy of Allen Coral Atlas)

Coral reefs are sometimes referred to as “the rainforests of the seas” — they are one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet. Although they cover just one percent of the ocean floor, these mesmerizing, scaly habitats support an estimated 25 percent of all marine life. They are also highly endangered: the climate crisis, coastal development, ocean acidification, and destructive overfishing are a few of the many factors contributing to their alarming decline. By some estimates, nearly all remaining reefs will be at risk by 2050.

Scientists have now completed the first comprehensive, continually-updated map of the world’s shallow coral reefs, a critical tool for their preservation. Using 2...

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Mapping quest edges past 20% of global ocean floor

The quest to compile the definitive map of Earth’s ocean floor has edged a little nearer to completion. Modern measurements of the depth and shape of the seabed now encompass 20.6% of the total area under water. It’s only a small increase from last year (19%); but like everyone else, the Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project has had cope with a pandemic. The extra 1.6% is an expanse of ocean bottom that equated to about half the size of the United States.

The progress update on Seabed 2030 is released on World Hydrography Day.

The achievement to date still leaves, of course, four-fifths of Earth’s oceans without a contemporary depth sounding. But the GEBCO initiative is confident the data deficit can be closed this decade with a concerted global effort.

“It doesn’t matter...

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One-fifth of Earth’s ocean floor is now mapped

The black is where we still need modern measurements at a reasonable resolution

We’ve just become a little less ignorant about Planet Earth. The initiative that seeks to galvanise the creation of a full map of the ocean floor says one-fifth of this task has now been completed. When the Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project was launched in 2017, only 6% of the global ocean bottom had been surveyed to what might be called modern standards.

That number now stands at 19%, up from 15% in just the last year. Some 14.5 million sq km of new bathymetric (depth) data was included in the GEBCO grid in 2019 – an area equivalent to almost twice that of Australia.

It does, however, still leave a great swathe of the planet in need of mapping to an acceptable degree.

“Today we stand at the 19% level...

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Coral mappers reach Caribbean waters

Caribbean coral

Coral reefs teem with a diverse array of life and colour, but in many places around the world, their future is uncertain. The Caribbean, where this vibrant moray eel was shot by an advance party for the mappers, is having a particularly bad time of it. Over the past 50 years, 80 per cent of the coral reef cover there has been lost to a perfect storm of pollution, overfishing, rising temperatures and ocean acidification. Researchers worry that others could soon be in a similar state.

More detailed, comparable information on how reefs are faring around the world is vital if we are going to be able to protect them.

One group attempting to do this is the Catlin Seaview Survey...

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