Tag Archives: Oceans & Maritime

Esri Teams up with XPRIZE to Advance Sea Floor Mapping

by Jyotika I. Virmani, Senior Director of Energy and Environment for XPRIZE and Dawn Wright, Esri Chief Scientist

Over 60% of the Earth’s surface has not yet been mapped. The ocean covers 70% of our planet’s landmass, and of that, less than 15% of the sea floor has been mapped at a resolution greater than 5 km. In fact, we have higher resolution maps of the entire surface of the Moon, Venus, and Mars than we do of our own Earth. But this situation can be changed. We are in the midst of a Technological Revolution and with the advent of exponential technologies such as 3D printing, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality, we now have smaller and cheaper tools and greater access to information.

Mapping the sea floor has, historically, been a challenge. Seawater is obviously opaque, which prevents us from using visible, remote surveying techniques to get maps of the sea floor. Seawater is a harsh and corrosive medium and, with a viscosity greater than air, it has additional engineering challenges such as high friction resulting in rapid power drain for any device that is used to map the bathymetry underwater. It is also expensive to access because the technology of today requires ships to sail to the area being mapped before the mapping technology is deployed. At an average cost of $60,000 a day, it can easily cost a few hundred thousand dollars before mapping can even begin.

The Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, a 3-year competition launched last December, is incentivizing innovators to develop the autonomous underwater robots we need to map the sea floor at 5m or higher resolution and take high-definition images of the deep sea. Within this is a $1 million National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Bonus Prize, for teams who can develop an underwater tracking device that can autonomously track a biological or chemical to its source. The devices will be shore-based or aerial deployments, removing the massive costs associated with ships.  The competition will conclude in December 2018 and, like all other XPRIZE competitions, there will be a number of technical solutions that emerge to provide underwater cartographers the tools they need to survey the sea floor.

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Announcing the 2016 Esri Science Symposium

Special keynote address, discussion panel, and reception to engage and enlighten scientists

A special Science Symposium will be held in conjunction with the 2016 Esri Education GIS Conference (EdUC) and Esri User Conference (UC). The Science Symposium will include:

  • keynote address by Margaret Leinen, Director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, current president of the American Geophysical Union, and a US State Department Science Envoy.

Margaret Leinen, Director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, will deliver the keynote address at the 2016 Esri Science Symposium.

  • conversational reaction panel of GIScientists moderated by Mike Goodchild (UCSB Geography emeritus) with John Wilson (USC Spatial Sciences Institute), Marco Painho (U. Nova de Lisboa Geography), Ming Tsou (San Diego State Geography), and Cyrus Shahabi (USC Computer Science).
  • Audience Q/A and discussion.
  • Networking reception: Enjoy stunning views of the San Diego Harbor, delicious appetizers, and a hosted bar of beer, wine, soft drinks, and bottled water.

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Esri and the Scientific Community: Year in Review/The Year Ahead

Updated January 6, 2017

Science at Esri continues to be an exciting initiative where we are concerned with supporting both basic and applied science, while also recognizing that there are many major themes of compelling interest to society that will drive scientific research for the next two decades. Thus we view science as helping us to understand not only how the Earth works, but also how the Earth should look (e.g., by way of geodesign), and how we should look at the Earth (i.e., by way of Earth observation in varying forms and the accompanying data science issues of analysis, modeling, developing and documenting useful datasets for science, interoperating between these datasets and between various approaches). In addition to supporting the science community, we seek to do good science at Esri ourselves, as it underpins much of what we do as an organization. This is helping us to evolve ArcGIS into a comprehensive geospatial platform for science; a platform that supports research project management and collaboration, spatial analysis, visualization, open data, and communication of science, all at multiple scales (i.e., from individual researcher to lab workgroup, to multi-department, multi-university, university-to-agency collaboration, to citizen engagement).

You can always track the totality of the Esri science initiative at esriurl.com/scicomm,Hot! but in this post I’ll share some highlights from 2014, and as we near the end of 2015′s first quarter, talk about the immediate road ahead. Continue reading

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Does EarthCube Hold the “Keys to the Kingdom” of Earth Science Data?

Updated April 17, 2016

With all the recent excitement and good hopes over the White House Climate Data Initiative, and the ongoing progress of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), there is another huge data initiative that bears mention: EarthCube.

I have used the word “initiative” for EarthCube but it has also been described as a vision, as a multi-faceted, multi-layered partnership, and also as a “virtual organization.” As such, it bears quite a bit of resemblance to the international GEOSS, but is much more US-based, having been conceived and currently funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF). Continue reading

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Esri and the Scientific Community

There are many natural science domains in which GIS is being used effectively to understand how the Earth works.

Updated: February 21, 2017 Jump to: Major Initiatives | Collaborative Projects | Staying Connected | Deepsea DawnUC Science Symposium Hot! | R – ArcGIS Integration Hot! | ArcGIS Python API Hot! Science at Esri continues to evolve on many exciting … Continue reading

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Esri Convenes Historic Oceans Summit

This past week (November 7-8, 2012), we held the first and only Esri Oceans Summit at Esri headquarters in Redlands. This was an invitation-only, high-level strategy workshop attended by intermediate to advanced ocean GIS analysts and developers, including many long-time users of Esri software. It was also an important deliverable of our new Oceans GIS Initiative.

More than 50 attendees triumphed over agency travel restrictions, budget cuts, busy schedules, the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and other obstacles in order to be here with us at their own expense. They came ready to discuss with more than 40 Esri employees the various GIS functional requirements for ocean science, justification for and validation of such approaches, use cases, and the like. One major goal was for Esri to listen carefully to these attendees in order to help us move forward in our thinking about our approaches and our products to better serve ocean science and resource management.  Esri employees came from all parts of the organization: Industry Solutions/Marketing, Core Development, Sales, Professional Services, and more.
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Esri’s Ocean GIS Initiative

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.
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Meeting a Titanic Challenge for Oceans

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

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Try Our New Ocean Basemap

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?”

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