February 19th 2019

International collaboration for better maps and more value

Above is the group of researchers representing the Irish, British and Norwegian partners of “MIM” who were recently gathered at NGU in Trondheim.
Researchers from three largest seabed mapping programmes in Europe - MAREANO (Norway), INFOMAR (Ireland) and MAREMAP (UK) - are collaborating to unify the process of mapping the seabed . This collaboration will ensure that MAREANO stays on top of the latest surveying and seabed mapping methods.

This is the fourth consecutive year that marine researchers from MIM( MAREANOINFOMAR og MAREMAP) have gathered. The latest MIM workshop was held at NGU, to discuss the diverse approaches to deal with the similar challenges shared by all three mapping programmes. The agenda for this group was to focus on three topics; seabed geomorphology, seabed sampling approaches, and automated seafloor mapping.

May lead to substantial savings

Seabed mapping costs many millions of kroner each year, but the knowledge retrieved is equally valuable, and essential for good ocean management. So far, only 10% of the seabed of the Norwegian continental shelf has been mapped. For these areas, we now have comprehensive knowledge about terrain, bottom type, sea-life and pollution - knowledge that can contribute to sound decision-making.

"Seabed mapping is expensive, but crucial. So we try to make most of the money at our disposal. Cross-border collaboration adds value to the data. Nature ignores political borders. Hence, compatible mapping methods, classifications and terminology will increase the value of the maps. This type of collaboration supports both the creation of seamless maps and the reuse of existing knowledge to produce new types of maps,” explain scientists Lilja Rún Bjarnadóttir and Terje Thorsnes from NGU. 

Interest from other mapping agencies

Several other mapping agencies have shown interest in collaborating with MIM and have sent representatives to join specific working groups. For example, researchers from Geoscience Australia participate in the Geomorphology working group which is tasked with harmonizing the classification of submarine landscapes and landforms. Researchers from organizations outside MIM also participate in the Automated Seafloor Mapping group.

"In the long run, we hope more countries can adopt the same methods and terminology that we`ll agreed upon in MIM. It would contribute to producing greater objectivity and verifiable mapping, across the borders. On Svalbard, we have already been testing some of the new methodology for automated sediment mapping and the results are promising. In combination with professional interpretation and quality checks, the new methodology will lead to better, and more cost-effective maps, that are produced more quickly than ever before”, say the NGU researchers.

Next year, at this time of the year, the MIM group will meet in Ireland. Until then, they continue to work diligently on their assigned tasks.

Check out Mareano`s homepage for more information about their program.

Relaterte prosjekter

MAREANO maps the bathymetry, seafloor conditions, biodiversity, geodiversity and sedimentary contamination along the Norwegian coast and sea areas.