SES-09. Encouraging Innovative Supplementary Data Gathering: The International Hydrographic Organization Crowdsourced Bathymetry Initiative

Bathymetry, defined as the depth and shape of the seafloor, underpins the safe, sustainable, and cost-effective execution of nearly every human activity at sea. Yet, less than 20% of the ocean has been directly measured and shared with the global community, leaving the majority of the seafloor unmapped. Innovative data collection methods are crucial to help meet the demands associated with growing international interest in ocean resources. Since 2014, the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) has focused on encouraging supplementary data gathering and data maximizing initiatives, such as the collection of crowdsourced bathymetry (CSB), to help address these data deficiencies. While CSB data may not meet accuracy requirements for charting, it can be used to identify uncharted features, assist in verifying charted information, and fill gaps where bathymetric data are scarce. Using existing equipment, most ships are capable of measuring and digitally recording depth in coastal waters, while an increasing number of vessels can collect these data in deeper waters. Researchers from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) and CIRES host the IHO Data Center for Digital Bathymetry (IHO DCDB) and collaborate as members of the IHO Crowdsourced Bathymetry Working Group. CIRES data managers and software developers are working to enhance the DCDB infrastructure to provide improved archiving, discovery, and retrieval of global CSB and have recently stood up a scalable point data store in a cloud environment. The working group is currently developing strategies to encourage various maritime sectors (e.g.: cruise lines industry, regional fishing communities), either already equipped with appropriate technology or outfitted with inexpensive data loggers, to collect bathymetric data as part of normal operations. The vision is to tap into the enthusiasm for mapping the ocean floor by enabling trusted mariners to easily contribute data to fill the gaps in our current bathymetric coverage.