Tuesday, April 17, 2012

NOAA National Geophysical Data Center: new viewer for seafloor and continental shelf data

A new viewer allows anyone with access to the internet to view high-resolution bathymetric and other data depicting information about the world's oceans, seafloor and continental shelves.  The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) makes the information available through its Marine Geology and Geophysics Division in Boulder, Colorado, part of NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC).

An independent report on the new viewer observes that "NGDC’s sea floor data have long been free and open to the public in original science formatting, but that often required the use of specialized software to convert the data into maps and other products. "For serious scientists, the new viewer allows an important preview capability that will help speed data access and analysis. But its real power is exposing a new audience to NOAA data," said Dan Price, bathymetric program manager at NGDC."

The maps can be viewed in Mercator and Arctic Projection and are available here.

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.