Facing the challenges of the oceans – mapping the ocean floor

International experts in ocean exploration will be attending a major conference on the comprehensive mapping of the ocean floor in Monaco in June (15-17). They include Robert Ballard, professor of oceanography and discoverer of the Titanic; Simon Winchester OBE, eminent author and journalist; and Jyotika Virmani, the Ocean Prize Lead at the Shell XPRIZE competition.

The Forum for Future Ocean Floor Mapping is being held jointly by the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO), and The Nippon Foundation, a private philanthropic foundation with its headquarters in Tokyo. The Nippon Foundation is funding the Forum which will bring together over 150 senior representatives, scientists and scholars from major ocean-related and international organisations, to discuss the importance of understanding the shape of the ocean floor. This will enable them address, more accurately, critical issues such as tsunamis, coastal change, undersea resource extraction, marine ecology and degradation, ocean warming, acidification, and the impact of global climate change. The Forum will culminate in the development of a Roadmap for Future Ocean Floor Mapping.

“We know more about the surface of Mars than about the ocean floor of our own planet,” comments Vice Admiral (ret) Shin Tani, Chairman of GEBCO’s Guiding Committee. “GEBCO, the only internationally mandated organisation focusing on ocean floor mapping over the past century, is now entering one of its most ambitious phases. The development of a global high-resolution digital map of the entire ocean floor will enable scientists to explore and understand better how the ocean works, inform maritime policy makers and support the management of natural marine resources for a sustainable Blue Economy.

Notes to editors:

GEBCO, funded by The Nippon Foundation, is a joint project of the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO – the United Nations Educational. Scientific and Cultural Organization – which was founded by Prince Albert I of Monaco in 1903.

The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) was established in 1921 as the International Hydrographic Bureau (IHB). The present name was adopted in 1970 as part of a new international Convention on the IHO adopted by the then member nations. The former name, International Hydrographic Bureau, was retained to describe the IHO Secretariat, which coordinates and promotes the IHO’s programmes and provides advice and assistance to Member States. The IHO has 85 member states with 8 others in various stages of applying to join.

The UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) was established by the General Conference of UNESCO in 1960. It first met in Paris at UNESCO Headquarters in 1961. There are currently 148 Member States. The IOC promotes international cooperation and coordinates programmes in marine research, services, observation systems, hazard mitigation and capacity development in order to understand and effectively manage the resources of the ocean and coastal areas.

The Nippon Foundation, a private, non-profit foundation, was established in 1962 for the purpose of carrying out philanthropic activities, using revenue from motorboat racing. The Foundation’s overall objectives include social innovation, assistance for humanitarian activities and global ocean management. Its philanthropic ideals embrace social development and self-sufficiency, and it pursues these principles by working to improve public health and education, alleviate poverty, eliminate hunger and help the disabled.

For more information contact:
Nick Stanton
Ph : +44 (0)207 922 7714