Image via Google Earth
Google and Columbia University wanted to celebrate World Oceans Day in style yesterday, so they revealed what is the largest map of Earth's seafloor to date. While the collaboration more than doubled what's available and mapped an area larger than North America, the team admits that only about 5% of the ocean's floor has been mapped so far. Google's Lat Long blog states, "Our partners at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia have curated 20 years of data from almost 500 ship cruises and 12 different institutions. See the full GMRT attribution layer in the Earth Gallery to learn more. High-res underwater mapping is vital to understanding how tsunamis will spread around the globe. For example, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) created a Tsunami spread map after the Japan earthquake to allow anyone to visualize the wave spread."
The map is topographical, showing the underwater mountain ranges and deep trenches that form the various ecosystems in the sea. And the new information doubles what Google already had mapped in the Google Earth platform. Here's a video that gives you a guided tour of what's to offer -- it's perfect for, ahem, diving in to the new addition to Google Earth.
What is incredible to note is how little we actually know about the oceans. There is more life, more mystery to uncover than we might possibly know what to do with. Yet, we are losing so much to pollution, overfishing, ocean acidification and climate change. We're hoping interactive maps such as this will help create the next generation of Jacques-Yves Cousteaus and build up some excitement about protecting these vast resources.
The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory adds, "The ocean floors contain dramatic landscapes--volcanic ridges, lofty peaks, wide plains and deep valleys--but most areas remain mapped in less detail than the surfaces of the Moon and Mars. The new, sharper focus is currently available for about 5 percent of the oceans--even at that, an area larger than North America--and provides spectacular scenery, including the huge Hudson Canyon off New York City, the Wini Seamount near Hawaii, and the sharp-edged 10,000-foot-high Mendocino Ridge off the U.S Pacific Coast."
Enjoy touring underwater landscapes!
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