Extensive sonar map reveals the seafloor around Antarctica in a never-before-seen way

(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists have published a map with an unprecedentedly detailed image of the bottom of the Southern Ocean.

New images from sonar data that have taken years to collect show canyons, ridges and mountains deep underwater.

The map was published Tuesday in the peer-reviewed journal Science Data. It is part of the Nippon Foundation’s General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) Seabed 2030 project, which aims to map the entire ocean floor by 2030.

To date, about 21 percent of the world’s seabed has been accurately mapped, the foundation said.

Extensive sonar map reveals the seafloor around Antarctica in a never before seen way 2

“The map is very important as it provides the most accurate knowledge of the shape of the seafloor,” lead author Boris Dorshel told Insider in an email.

Dorschel is a senior fellow at the Center for Polar and Marine Research at the Alfred Wegener Helmholtz Institute in Germany and head of the Southern Ocean Regional Center for the Seabed 2030 project.

“It’s a visual extension of the terrestrial world we know under the waves. Now we can see canyons, channels and mountains in great detail in many places,” Dorschel said.

The map was made by compiling measurements taken by ships sailing the waters around Antarctica, called bathymetry.

It provides critical information that can improve climate change models by providing more accurate insights into how the world’s oceans are moving.

The shape of the seafloor changes the way ocean water mixes and therefore its temperature, which in turn affects temperatures around the world.

Better mapping could also help marine life conservation efforts, according to the BBC. Fish and other animals tend to congregate around seamounts, so knowing where they are can help people find suitable areas for conservation.

“Personally, I can’t stop navigating the map and enjoying the spectacle,” said Dorschel, project leader.


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