Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project

The Nippon Foundation

Seabed 2030 is a collaborative project between GEBCO and the Nippon Foundation with the aim to facilitate the complete mapping of the ocean floor by the year 2030. It builds on more than 100 year's of GEBCO's history in global seafloor mapping.

The launch of the project was announced by Mr Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, at the United Nations Ocean Conference in June 2017.

Latest news - March 2018

GEBCO-Nippon Foundation Alumni Team qualify for final round of Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE

London, UK, 7 March, 2018: The GEBCO-Nippon Foundation Alumni Team has progressed to the final round of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, a global competition challenging teams to advance deep-sea technologies for ocean floor exploration. Of the 19 teams that competed in the November 2017 semi-final, only nine have progressed to the final round. The finalists will be formally recognized and awarded at Oceanology International's Catch the Next Wave conference in London on March 15.

The GEBCO-NF Alumni Team is led by alumni of The Nippon Foundation / General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) Postgraduate Certificate in Ocean Bathymetry Training Programme, run at the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire. The GEBCO-NF Alumni Team's successful concept utilises a KONGSBERG HUGIN Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) supported by the SEA-KIT™ unmanned surface vessel, USV Maxlimer. The SEA-KIT™ vessel has been built by Hushcraft in the UK, and has the unique ability to autonomously launch and recover the AUV.  The surface vessel acts as an active communication link during subsea survey operations. The seafloor data collected by the AUV, is then consumed into a semi-autonomous workflow allowing the on-shore analysts to process it into bathymetric maps and images of the surveyed area. The autonomous navigation and AUV tracking capabilities of the USV are possible - thanks to support from KONGSBERG Maritime to the team.

The HUGIN AUV, 'Chercheur', deployed by the SEA-KIT™ USV, is owned and operated by Ocean Floor Geophysics (OFG). It is one of the best equipped survey and pipeline inspection AUVs in the world, with technology including HISAS interferometric synthetic aperture sonar, multibeam echosounder, and a state-of-the-art positioning system.

The team's system brings significant potential benefits over traditional mapping missions using multibeam echosounder technology. Such systems typically require large research ships with full scientific crews on board, resulting in costs of tens of thousands of US dollars per day. The USV/AUV model has demonstrated that high-quality bathymetric data can be obtained inexpensively with little, to no human involvement at sea.

Commenting on the team's progression to the final, Dr Rochelle Wigley, Project Coordinator, noted: "This announcement is an acknowledgement of the investment that The Nippon Foundation has made in building capacity in global ocean mapping, and reflects the education the team received from the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire. The Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE has provided a platform for our alumni to showcase their skillset to the world. I would like to acknowledge all our partners, with special thanks to Kongsberg Maritime and Ocean Floor Geophysics. Their support was crucial to the alumni learning experience, without which we could not have progressed to the final round".

The announcement comes just two weeks after The Nippon Foundation–GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project, which aims to map the entirety of the world's ocean floor by 2030, became operational.  The project will make a significant contribution to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 14: ‘to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development'.

Highlighting the potential for the Alumni Team to assist Seabed 2030, Dr Wigley said: “We have always maintained that the development of new technology will be a game changer for achieving the goals of The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 project. This is our ultimate objective beyond the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE. The concept we have developed allows high-resolution bathymetry and imagery data to be collected remotely and at significantly reduced costs, thereby advancing the cause of science. This will allow human resources to focus on other aspects of data collection, collation and product development”.  The alumni-led data processing pipeline developed with input from Teledyne CARIS, OceanAero and Earth Analytic, allows the team to easily produce understandable and useful information from data, which is an important component of Seabed 2030.

Individual components of the team’s system are already commercially viable and the team’s technology has potential for wider use in the maritime sector. For instance, it can be used for monitoring cables and pipelines, piers, dredging operations and ocean survey work. The team is starting to explore these potential opportunities as they prepare for round 2.

Requirements for the final round of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE are expected to be announced shortly.

For more information on the GEBCO-NF Alumni Team, contact:

Patrick Orr, Raitt Orr & Associates, , Tel: +44 20 7922 7713

Henry Gilliver, Raitt Orr & Associates, , Tel: +44 20 7922 7719

Recent news

Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project teams up with Fugro to kick start crowd sourced data contributions

The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project is teaming up with Fugro, one of the world’s leading private sector off-shore survey companies, to help map the entire ocean floor by 2030.

David Millar, Fugro Government Accounts Director, Americas, speaking on the importance of sharing data to create a culture of international cooperation

David Millar, Fugro Government Accounts Director, Americas, speaking on the importance of sharing data to create a culture of international cooperation

One of the main ways in which Fugro is participating in the project is through contribution of high resolution crowd sourced bathymetry datasets collected while its survey vessels transit between projects. Thanks to innovations in its technology platform, these ships are able to collect data without dedicated staff on board.

Fugro has contributed around 65,000km2 of data to date and has just doubled the number of vessels working on the project to four. It plans to eventually roll out the approach to its entire deepwater global survey fleet.

"We are proud to continue our support of the Seabed 2030 programme and to lead industry participation in this way," announced David Millar, Fugro’s government accounts director in the Americas. "As an appreciable portion of our work is ocean related, Seabed 2030 provides a perfect opportunity for us to contribute to global society and practice good ocean stewardship," he said.

Welcoming Fugro’s support, Seabed 2030 Project Director, Satinder Bindra noted: "Fugro has displayed exemplary corporate leadership by sharing transit data from two of its survey vessels. In the coming months we look forward to receiving more transit data from all its survey vessels, which we believe will serve as a shining example to others in the industry."

Fugro has announced its also working with its clients to investigate how proprietary data might be shared with the scientific community for the benefit of human kind. It is recognized that some datasets contain sensitive information. In such cases, the integrity of client-owned data can be protected by reducing the resolution of the datasets and/or delaying their release until sensitives are removed.

Companies that share data with Seabed 2030 will be issued a special commendation, be invited to our key forums and will become key stakeholders in the project, said Project Director Bindra. "Their contribution will ensure we can collectively support the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal # 14 'to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.'"

Contact Mr. Bindra:

Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project operational

At a press conference, held on 20 February in Tokyo, the Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, has announced that The Nippon Foundation – GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project is now operational. The Project will realise Mr Sasakawa’s vision to map the entirety of the world’s ocean floor by 2030.

The Nippon Foundation, which has a long history of supporting maritime issues, has pledged $2 million US dollars per year as seed money – and is calling on the resources of the international maritime community for additional support.

"The Nippon Foundation alone cannot achieve the objectives of this ambitious project," said Mr. Sasakawa. "We will need the support of a large number of stakeholders, including world-leading technical experts. It is crucially important that the maritime community comes together to achieve this important goal".

As discussed at the press conference by a panel of leading ocean-mapping experts, including GEBCO Guiding Committee Chairman, Shin Tani, and Vice Chairman, Professor Martin Jakobsson - understanding the bathymetry of the global ocean is imperative, not only for improving maritime navigation, but also for enhancing our ability to predict climate change and monitor marine biodiversity and resources. The project will make a significant contribution to the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 14: 'to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development'.

The need for bathymetric data has recently been highlighted by the disappearance in March 2014 of Malaysian Airlines flight, MH370. A comprehensive map of the seafloor will assist global efforts to combat pollution, aid marine conservation, forecast tsunami wave propagation, and help inform the study of tides, wave action, and sediment transport.

Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, Mr. Yohei Sasakawa

First Director of Seabed 2030 Project announced

Just seven months after the launch of The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project at the United Nations in New York City, the Tokyo event introduced its first Director, Mr. Satinder Bindra. Mr. Bindra, a former veteran international journalist, who has been appointed after an exhaustive global search, brings a wealth of experience to the project. He has worked for the Asian Development Bank, the United Nations Development Programme and UN Environment, where he promoted key environmental initiatives and sustainable development. He will lead and coordinate the efforts of the international project team.

Commenting on his appointment Mr. Bindra noted: "Since its launch, the project has made rapid progress, drawing on the experience of some 28 international organisations and networks spread across more than 50 countries. The project’s structure is based on a roadmap produced by an establishment team of leading ocean mapping experts. Four Regional Centers have been set up, each with responsibility for a region of the world’s ocean, with a Global Center to produce the global map."

The Regional Centers are based at The Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), Germany, covering the Southern Ocean; The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), Wellington, New Zealand, covering the South and West Pacific Ocean; The Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, USA, covering the Atlantic and Indian Oceans; and Stockholm University, Sweden, in partnership with the University of New Hampshire, USA, for the North Pacific and Arctic Ocean. The Global Center, which is responsible for centralised data management and products, is based at the UK National Oceanography Center, Southampton.

The project’s regional centers were represented at the Tokyo event by Dr. Vicki Ferrini, from Columbia University, USA. David Millar, from one of the world’s leading offshore surveying companies, Fugro; and Bjorn Jalving from Kongsberg Maritime, one of the world’s leading maritime technology companies, represented private sector support for the initiative.

In his concluding remarks at the event, Mr Bindra stressed: "this is a challenging opportunity to build a global common good and do something meaningful for our future generations. The scale and scope of the project is such that we will have to work with international organisations, universities, civil society, the private sector, maritime industries -including fishing and shipping, youth organizations and citizens from every corner of the world. As we strengthen our co-operation, we will deepen our understanding of the oceans and enhance our ability to map the remaining 85 per cent of the ocean floor much faster than ever before."

From left to right: Mr Satinder Bindra, Director of the Seabed 2030 project; Mr Mitsuyuki Unno, Exexutive Director, the Nippon Fondation; Professor Martin Jakobsson, Stockholm University; Vice Admiral Shin Tani, Chairman, GEBCO Guiding Committee; Bjorn Jalving, Executive Vice-President, Kongsberg Maritime; Dr Vicki Ferrini, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; David Millar, Fugro, Government Services Director, Americas

Access Mr. Bindra's speech to the press conference Microsoft Word version of the Feb 20 press conference concluding speech, delivered by Satinder Bindra (23 KB)

Contact Mr. Bindra:

Concept paper on Seabed 2030

Access a paper detailing the background to and need for Seabed 2030 - released February 2018.

Mayer, L.; Jakobsson, M.; Allen, G.; Dorschel, B.; Falconer, R.; Ferrini, V.; Lamarche, G.; Snaith, H.; Weatherall, P. The Nippon Foundation—GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project: The Quest to See the World’s Oceans Completely Mapped by 2030. Geosciences 2018, 8, 63.

Seabed 2030 kick off meeting

On 25th and 26th October 2017, members of the Seabed 2030 Project Team and invited experts met at the UK National Oceanography Centre, Southampton - to plan the first stages of this ambitious project.

The Team includes representatives of the four Seabed 2030 Regional Centres and the Global Centre.

Attendees at the Seabed 2030 Kick-off meeting

The regional teams will be responsible for championing regional mapping activities as well as assembling and compiling bathymetric information within their region. The global team will be responsible for producing and distributing centralized GEBCO products.

Further details about the project and the centres can be found in the Seabed 2030 Road Map Adobe PDF of the Seabed 2030 Road Map (9 MB).

About Seabed 2030

In the opening address of the Forum for Future Ocean Floor Mapping in June 2016, Mr. Sasakawa, Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, set forth the initiative to partner with GEBCO to cooperatively work towards mapping 100% of the topography of the World Ocean floor by 2030.

This initiative led to the formulation of Seabed 2030, a global project within the IHO-IOC GEBCO framework with the focused goal of producing the definitive, high-resolution bathymetric map of the entire World Ocean.

This ambitious initiative is driven by a strong motivation to empower the world to make policy decisions, use the ocean sustainably and undertake scientific research based on detailed bathymetric information of the Earth’s seabed.

Find out more

  • Mr Sasakawa's speech to the UN Adobe PDF of Mr Sasakawa's Ocean Champions speech to the UN, 6 June 2017 (155 KB)
  • The Nippon Foundation's press release Adobe PDF of the Nippon Foundation's press release about the Seabed 2030 Project (878 KB)
  • GEBCO's press release Adobe PDF of GEBCO's press release about the Seabed 2030 Project (191 KB)
  • Seabed 2030 Road Map Adobe PDF of the Seabed 2030 Road Map (9 MB)
  • Seabed 2030 brochure Adobe PDF version of the Nippon Foundation GEBCO Seabed 2030 brochure (7.6 MB)
  • Information note (6th July 2017) Adobe PDF of the Seabed 2030 Information note of 6th July 2017 (253 KB)

For further information contact:

Contact Mr. Stinder Bindra, Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project Director:

Patrick Orr, , Tel.: +44 (0)7917 431102

Pauline Weatherall, GEBCO Digital Atlas Manager,

Get involved, join the Seabed 2030 mailing list.

About GEBCO and Seabed 2030

The Seabed 2030 project builds on more than 100 years of GEBCO’s history and benefits from the human network of mapping capacity developed through The Nippon Foundation – GEBCO training project. As part of Seabed 2030, GEBCO will strengthen and expand its links and collaborations with international and regional bathymetric data collecting and mapping organisations in order to build an authoritative global bathymetric model.

GEBCO operates under the joint auspices of the International Hydrographic Organization and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO. It is the only long-term international project with a mandate to map the entire ocean floor.

Through Seabed 2030, GEBCO will be recognised as the authoritative international initiative for mapping the World Ocean, from the coasts to the deepest trenches. The project will champion, develop and nurture the technical and human capacity to complete this task by 2030.

Further information


About the Nippon Foundation

The Forum for Future Ocean Floor Mapping

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