Tag Archives: ocean
As a follow on to a comprehensive global Ecological Land Units map that Esri and the USGS released in December 2014, a new global Ecological Marine Units (EMU) map will be available in the coming months. To better understand the significance of the new global EMU map and the data behind it, I recently met with Dr. Dawn Wright, Esri’s chief scientist, to find out more about why this map was created and how it will be used.
What is the Ecological Marine Units map?
The Ecological Marine Units (EMU) map seeks to portray a systematic division and classification of physiographic and ecological information about features in the ocean. The project is a new undertaking of Esri in collaboration with Dr. Roger Sayre of the USGS, the Marine Conservation Institute, NatureServe, the University of Auckland, GRID-Arendal, NOAA, Duke University, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and many other partners.
On a planet where 71 percent of the surface is covered by water, the oceans are critical for life itself. They feed us, regulate our weather patterns, provide over half of the oxygen that we breathe, and provide for our energy and economy. Yet only 5 to 10 percent of the ocean floor and of the waters beneath the surface have been explored and mapped in a level of detail similar to what already exists for the dark side of the Moon, for Mars, and for Venus.
GIS technology, which has long provided effective solutions to the integration, visualization, and analysis of information about land, is now being similarly applied to oceans. Our ability to measure change in the oceans (including open ocean, nearshore, and coast) is increasing, not only because of improved measuring devices and scientific techniques, but also because new GIS technology is aiding us in better understanding this dynamic environment. This domain has progressed from applications that merely collect and display data to complex simulation, modeling, and the development of new research methods and concepts.
What have we learned after 100 years?
On April 15, 1912, more than 1,500 passengers and crew aboard the RMS Titanic perished at sea in one of the most infamous maritime disasters in all of human history. She was the largest ship afloat at the time, but the location of her wreckage remained a mystery until 1985. Many have seen similarities between the sinking of Titanic and the struggles of the gigantic cruise ship Costa Concordia, which ran aground off the coast of Italy almost 100 years later. Continue reading
The ocean makes up a huge part of our planet. Yet “there is still so much we don’t know about the ocean,” says Prof. Dawn Wright, ocean scientist and geographer at Oregon State University (and incoming Esri chief scientist). “How can we understand and mitigate the impacts of climate change, clean up oil spills, protect species, sustain fisheries, and so forth, if we still have not fully explored and understood the ocean?”