Major partnership with Five Deeps Expedition, and the role of NF-GEBCO Alumni
In March 2019, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project and Five Deeps Expedition, laying the groundwork for previously unexplored areas of the seafloor to be mapped and the resulting data made available for public use. Signed at the headquarters of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) in Monaco, the MOU establishes a partnership between Seabed 2030 and the Five Deeps Expedition in recognition that both parties are working to increase humanity’s collective scientific understanding of the world’s oceans.
In keeping with Seabed 2030’s core principle of building capacity and fostering international scientific collaboration, the partnership also provides an unparalleled opportunity for students and alumni of The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO (NF/GEBCO) postgraduate training programme, at the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping (CCOM) of the USA’s University of New Hampshire (UNH), to play a part in this pioneering expedition.
The Five Deeps Expedition is the world’s first manned expedition to the deepest point in each of the five oceans. It was founded and is sponsored by undersea explorer and private equity investor Victor Vescovo, who signed the MOU on behalf of the Five Deeps Expedition. Victor Vescovo is one of only a handful of people to have climbed to the highest peak on all seven continents as well as ski to both poles, and last December became the first person to reach the deepest point of the Atlantic Ocean –the Puerto Rico Trench, almost five miles beneath the water’s surface –piloting a specially engineered Triton submarine, named The Limiting Factor.
Ahead of its dives to the deepest points in each of the five oceans, Five Deeps must produce detailed bathymetric maps of each location to ensure the safety of its operations. It is also leaving its sonar systems on during transit between dives, during which bathymetric data will be collected. The data will be donated for inclusion in the grid of the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO), the only organisation with a mandate to map the entire ocean floor. This represents a significant contribution to Seabed 2030’s efforts to crowdsource all available data into the definitive and freely available GEBCO grid. In return, Seabed 2030 has agreed to enlist and fund experts to operate the onboard sonar systems to collect the transit data.
About Seabed 2030
Seabed 2030 is a collaborative project between the Nippon Foundation and the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO). It aims to bring together all available bathymetric data to produce the definitive map of the world ocean floor by 2030 and make it available to all.