Here on Earth, we have more detailed maps of Mars than of our own ocean, and that’s a problem. A massive force for surviving climate change, the ocean absorbs 90% of the heat caused by emissions and generates 50% of the oxygen we breathe. “We have the ocean to thank for so many aspects of our safety and well-being,” says Dawn Wright, oceanographer and chief scientist at geographic information system (GIS) provider Esri, who notes the ocean also provides renewable energy, a major food source, and a transportation corridor for not only ships but submarine internet cables.

Now, the same type of smart maps and geospatial technology guiding outer space exploration support the quest to better understand and protect our ocean. “For the first time, our knowledge of the ocean can approach our knowledge of the land,” Wright says. “We can turn the unknown deep into the known deep.”

GIS—the location intelligence technology businesses and governments use for everything from risk mitigation to crisis response, market analysis to operational efficiency—also applies to the ocean. The logic is simple: the ocean supports a sustainable planet and economy, and data-rich maps can support a sustainable ocean.

Dawn Wright, oceanographer and chief scientist at Esri

‘Tons and tons of beautiful data’

More than 80% of the ocean floor remains unmapped, yet comprehensive ocean maps will be essential for stemming the problems of overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and biodiversity loss. It’s easy, and at this point cliché, to say “save our ocean,” but a data-driven map compels people to see why the ocean needs saving, where to start, and what needs to be done. “Seeing the ocean in its true depth and complexity is exactly what we need if we hope to reduce the risk of critically damaging or exhausting marine resources,” Wright says.

Since its release in 2017, the world’s first 3D ocean map spurred a revolution of innovation in ocean-related data and sustainability solutions. The 3D digital ocean map sorts global water masses into 37 distinct volumetric regions, known as ecological marine units, defined by factors in ecosystem health and recovery: temperature, salinity, oxygen, and nutrient levels. Scientists, environmental managers, fishers, and shippers, as well as citizen scientists can use the map to virtually navigate and explore the ocean.

What makes the 3D map of the world’s ocean

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By: Martha Leibs
Title: The science and technology that can help save the ocean
Sourced From:
Published Date: Mon, 29 Mar 2021 16:00:00 +0000

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