Marine Newsletter #9 2012 – October

Highlights from the Marine Division at GRID-Arendal for October 2012

Featured Project

New global map of seafloor geomorphology under construction
Through a joint initiative of Conservation International, UNEP/GRID Arendal and Geoscience Australia, a new global map of seafloor geomorphology is being created. Seafloor geomorphology is one of the more useful of the physical attributes of the seabed mapped and measured by marine scientists for ocean management. This is because different geomorphic features (eg. submarine canyons, seamounts, spreading ridges, escarpments, plateaus, trenches etc.) are commonly associated with particular suites of habitats and biological communities, as documented in the recently published volume Seafloor Geomorphology as Benthic Habitat: GeoHAB Atlas of Seafloor Geomorphic Features and Benthic Habitats.

Although we now have better bathymetric datasets than ever before, there has been little effort to integrate these data into a new map of seabed geomorphic features or habitats. Indeed, our best available global seafloor geomorphic features map is now over 30 years old. This project will produce global spatial data layers for about 21 different geomorphic feature types defined by the International Hydrographic Organisation. The aim of the project is to produce an up-to-date map of the geomorphology of the ocean floor to support and promote effective management of marine areas. It will be particularly useful in locations where other data sources on benthic habitats are unavailable, such as in the ocean territory of developing states and in areas beyond national jurisdiction. The map will be used for global priority setting to achieve objectives related to marine biological diversity and ecosystem services in international waters.

The project is scheduled for completion by the second quarter of 2013.

For more information, please contact Peter Harris (Geoscience Australia) or Elaine Baker.

Map of the Month

Draft global seafloor geomorphology map
The draft global seafloor geomorphology map represents the progress made to date developing updated seafloor geomorphic feature layers. The features have been mapped based on the global SRTM30 v7 and ausbath09 v4 bathymetric datasets. A combination of computer based algorithms and on-screen digitising have been used to define the boundaries of each of the mapped features. 

So far layers for the continental shelf, slope, rise, abyss, hadal zone, seamounts, shelf valleys and plateaus have been finalised. Additional layers including canyons, banks, ridges, sandwaves, escarpments, terrraces and saddles will be added to the map as they are finalised over the next few months. The full methodology and spatial layers will be finalised for release in the first half of 2013.

Click on the image to view the full map.

For more information, please contact Miles Macmillan-Lawler.


Recent events
Seminars/meetings/conferences related to the marine environment where representatives from GRID-Arendal have participated:

  • 14th Global Meeting of the Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans, Nairobi, Kenya, 1-3 October – presenting The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) for Oceans and Coasts concept.
  • Capacity building workshop “Introduction to the Shared Environmental Information Systems", Copenhagen, Denmark, and Arendal, Norway, 2-5 October – a training in environmental data management using the Caspian Environmental Information Centre, a web-based information and communication resource developed by GRID-Arendal, with representatives from Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan.
  • The 2012 Statoil Research and Development Summit, Trondheim, Norway, 15-16 October – presenting and discussing the key messages of the UNEP Global Outlook on Methane Gas Hydrates with a special emphasis on the green economy approach to non-renewable natural resource management.
  • Working session with experts from the Republic of Kiribati, Sydney, Australia, 19-23 October – finalising Kiribati's submission to the Comission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, for the establishment of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles.
  • Opening of the MSV's (Many Strong Voices) Portraits of Resilience at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, USA, 24 October.

Ongoing and upcoming events

30 October-1 November
Praia, Cape Verde: 5th Meeting of the Liaison Committee established under the Agreement on Sub-Regional Cooperation between West African coastal States on the Establishment of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles. The meeting will discuss the progress achieved and the plans for continued capacity building and drafting of the submissions.
For more information, please contact Joan Fabres.

04-08 November
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: Planning and initiation meeting for the Abu Dhabi blue carbon project.  The project will be officially launched on 06 November by the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency's Secretary General H.E. Razan al Mubarak.
For more information, please contact Steven Lutz.

06-08 November
Brest, France: Marine and coastal ecosystem valuation workshop hosted by Agence des aires marines protégées de la France (French Marine Protected Areas Agency). The workshop is part of the French VALMER (Valuing Marine Ecosystem Services in the Western Channel) project, which focuses on developing a more comprehensive framework mechanism to value a range of marine ecosystem services. The workshop will also be a consultation on the development of the TEEB for Oceans and Coasts study.
For more information, please contact Yannick Beaudoin.

12-13 November
Haparanda, Sweden: Arctic Oil and Gas Development – Challenges and Prospects. The workshop, organised by the Arctic NGO Forum, will focus on knowledge sharing and capacity building on a variety of topics related to oil and gas development, on both big picture issues and concrete initiatives like oil spill response plans of the Arctic Council and EU perspectives and policy processes.
For more information, please contact Björn Alfthan.

12-16 November
Pointe Noire, Congo: Tenth Meeting of Contracting Parties to the Convention for Cooperation in the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Atlantic Coast of the West, Central and Southern Africa Region (Abidjan Convention).
For more information, please contact Wouter Rommens or Morten Sørensen.

19-30 November
Sydney, Australia: 10th Advanced Level Training Workshop relating to Maritime Boundaries and the Extended Continental Shelf. The workshop is organised by the Applied Geoscience and Technology Division (SOPAC) of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), in collaboration with GRID-Arendal, Geoscience Australia and the Commonwealth Secretariat. Technical, legal and diplomatic personnel from fourteen countries from the region will be coming together, focusing in particular on the 15 remaining unresolved shared boundaries in the region. GRID-Arendal will provide technical and scientific support to the states, with legal teams from the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Australian Attorney General's Department to finalise national maritime boundary legislation. 
For more information, please contact Elaine Baker.


Memorandum of Understanding signed with Duke University
GRID-Arendal and Duke University, under the auspices of its Nicholas Institute For Environmental Policy Solutions, have signed an MoU to support collaboration on a number of marine issues including ecosystem services, TEEB for Oceans and Coasts, Blue Carbon and more. With this, the two institutions intend to work together to advance the frontiers of marine conservation science and practice. Having complementary strengths, similar objectives and common areas of interest, a partnership between the two will enhance their ability to move beyond where they are individually.

Did you know that...

...if you improve oyster beds, there is good chance you will see an increase in fish stocks? The oysters filter sea water – up to three litres an hour – improving the habitat for sea grasses, which in turn provide shelter for breeding fish. 
Source: BBC News
...Microscopic bacteria on the seafloor have been found to conduct electricity between red surface sediments and deeper, anaerobic black seabed layers? The bacteria are radically different from any other bacteria.

Picture of the month
A school of Moorish Idols cruise over the reef, Ha'apai, TongaPhoto:Glenn Edney, GRID-Arendal Photo Library.

Our favorite website of the month

Seafloor Explorer

Disclaimer: GRID-Arendal does not necessarily endorse the content of external websites, and provides them for information purposes only. If you would like your website to be featured here, please contact Rannveig Nilsen.

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For previous editions of this Marine Newsletter, please visit our Marine Division website.


Wednesday 31 Oct 2012