Thursday, October 7, 2010

US Joins Effort to Produce Better Arctic Nautical Maps

NOAA uses echo-sounding technologies to measure water depths, find underwater physical features, and gather data on the characteristics of the seafloor
Yesterday, October 6, the United States officially joined an international initiative whose main objective is the creation of better, more accurate nautical maps for the Arctic region. 

At a meeting that was held in Ottawa, Canada, representatives from the states that border the Arctic – the Russian Federation, the United States, Canada, Denmark, Norway – signed into existence a new regulatory body.

The Arctic Regional Hydrographic Commission will be responsible for regulating traffic through the Arctic Ocean, which is now beginning to suffer important transformation due to global warming.

The phenomenon is causing more ice to melt each year at the North Pole, which clears up new trading routes, as well as lands that can be exploited for natural resources.

Since 2005, the amount of ship traffic in the Arctic Ocean has more than doubled, which is the clearest indicator possible that climate change is actually taking place as we speak.

Shipping companies, which handle about 90 percent of the world's commerce, are ecstatic about the possibility of sending merchandise through the Arctic rather than through the Atlantic.

This could save a lot of money, time and fuel, and so companies with interests in this field are now asking of their respective governments to become involved in this effort to map the Arctic sea floor.

“As vessel traffic increases, inexperience with navigating in the challenging conditions of the Arctic can create real dangers,” explains Capt. John Lowell.

“Currently, charting data in much of the Arctic is woefully out of date or nonexistent. Inadequate charts pose a significant risk for marine safety, potentially leading to loss of life or environmental disaster, as evidenced by recent vessel groundings,” he adds.

Lowell is the director of the NOAA Office of Coast Survey, and also a US national hydrographer. He explains that creating such maps could be vital for the national economy in America.

“The establishment of the Arctic Regional Hydrographic Commission will help build synergy among the Arctic Coastal States to ensure safety of life at sea, assist in protecting the increasingly fragile Arctic ecosystem and support the maritime economy,” the Captain says.

The US delegation to the meeting was led by experts from the Office of Coast Survey at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Representatives from the Naval Oceanographic Office and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency were also present at the talks.

No comments:

Post a Comment