Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Two New Map Tools from UNEP Grid/Arendal: Marine-related scientific datasets and Extended Continental Shelf Submissions (geophysical metadata)

The January 2012 Newsletter of UNEP GRID/Arendal's Marine Division features two excellent resources, OCEANIDS and OSDS Data Inventory Map (the featured Map of the Month).

The first, OCEANIDS, is “a new tool to find and examine public marine-related scientific datasets. A main aim in the development of OCEANIDS is to provide end users with an interdisciplinary and multi-thematic geospatial and metadata portal of public data and information – but with the non-GIS expert end user in mind.” For more on how this is accomplished with Geocommons solutions, see the newsletter.

The second resource, the One Stop Data Shop (OSDS) Data Inventory Map “shows all the cruise track lines and point databases that have been collected during the lifespan of the Continental Shelf Programme, and constitutes the world’s largest collection of geophysical metadata relevant for working on delineation of extended continental shelves (ECS) beyond 200 nautical miles.” The map includes “URLs leading to the actual data holder's web pages for that object. Furthermore, the map shows the status of all ECS Submissions received by the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.  In January 2012 Tanzania was the 59th submission.

As the newsletter announces, the ECS inventory map “is also available for Google Earth as separate layers.”

Icebreaking into the Arctic

The USCGC HEALY embarked Barrow, Alaska, in August 2008 to map the US extended continental shelf, or ECS, in the Arctic Ocean (HLY 0805). Healy sailed again from 7 August to 16 September, 2009 (HLY 0905) to continue ECS mapping, joining with the Canadian icebreaker, the Louis S. St.-Laurent. The two vessels mapped together again in 2010 (see HLY1002) and 2011 (HLY1102).

As the only law professor on the science crew, I was along on HLY 0805 and 0905 to better understand
the science behind the legal process that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea establishes for states making ECS submissions. As to why the US is mapping now, even though it has not yet acceded to the Convention, read on both here, and in the Law of the Sea notes below.

Thanks to
Vermont Law School and especially to Larry Mayer, Director of the University of New Hampshire's Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping, for making my part in the trip possible.
Thanks, as well, to Adriane Colburn, for opening new windows on and for the deep.