Mapping the World’s Ocean Ecosystems

Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care


The world’s oceans are vital to life on Earth. They provide food, moderate the climate, water the land, and drive the local and global economy. But the living conditions and resources in the enormous water masses of the open ocean have been mostly unknown and unmapped.

Baseline data needed to help scientists detect changes and to help nations protect living marine resources from depletion are now better understood thanks to state-of-the-art mapping technologies.

To meet the need for a consistent, objective, and complete description of open-ocean environments, the Group on Earth Observations charged USGS ecologist Dr. Roger Sayre with a task to map the world’s ocean ecosystems.

In response, the USGS formed a public-private partnership with ESRI, NOAA, academia, and non-profit organizations to produce the first ever detailed maps that group the entire global ocean into 37 distinct 3D ecosystems. The groundbreaking work to produce the first-of-its-kind, objective, and true 3D global marine ecosystems maps is described in two recent USGS-led publications in the journal Oceanography and an AAG Special Publication.

The resulting ecosystem data and maps are available in a web-based app called the Ecological Marine Unit Explorer. This app, also available for cell phones here or here, organizes an incredibly rich collection of data and provides a convenient open-data platform to facilitate science and marine resource management…

Read Full Article, USGS (04-24-2017)