NOAA Releases New View of Sea Floor Data

NOAA has made sea floor maps and other data on the world’s coasts, continental shelves and deep oceans available for easy viewing online with its new data viewer that compiles sea floor data from the near shore to the depths of the oceans, including the latest high-resolution bathymetric (sea bottom) data collected by NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey primarily to support nautical charting. Anyone with Internet access can now explore undersea features and obtain detailed depictions of the sea floor and coasts, including deep canyons, ripples, landslides and likely fish habitat.

“NOAA’s ocean bottom data are critical to so many mission requirements, including coastal safety and resiliency, navigation, healthy oceans and more. They are also just plain beautiful,” said Susan McLean, chief of NOAA’s Marine Geology and Geophysics Division in Boulder, CO.

“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 LCDR Dan Price, bathymetric program manager at NGDC. “I showed the new viewer to my neighbors and they were blown away by the detail and features revealed.”

The new interface makes exploration easy and intuitive, using a “color-shaded relief” technique to depict bathymetric data and derived maps and models. For example, a user can zoom into Delgada Canyon, one of a series of deep canyons off the northern California coast between Fort Bragg and Eureka. The sea floor descends steeply from shallow yellows into dark blues and purples.

“These are critical data for modeling coastal flooding, from tsunami to hurricane storm surge,” said Kelly Carignan, a digital elevation modeler at NGDC.

To check it out, go to www.maps.ngdc.noaa.gov.

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