AUSTIN (KXAN) — Just a few weeks ago, NOAA decided to formally join Seabed 2030, an initiative launched in 2017 with the goal of having the entire ocean floor mapped by 2030. The initiative’s full name is the Nippon Foundation-General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans Seabed 2030 Project.

While it may seem irrelevant to us all here on land, discovering the nature of the ocean floor is crucial. Whether it is about the movement tracts of pollution or the sustainability of a given ecosystem, the seafloor can teach us about the ocean itself as well as what goes on below the surface.

According to NOAA, “knowledge about the depths can provide insights into sustainable fisheries management. Ocean acidification is also directly linked to depth; some areas may experience more chemical change and be less able to sustain healthy ecosystems than others.”

The most recent numbers show that right now, 23.4% of the ocean floor is mapped and that percent continues to climb as more nations, organizations and individuals from around the world join this effort.

As more and more continue to get involved in Seabed 2030, it is possible that the goal could be met sooner, depending on how much popularity the initiative receives.

Many nations utilize seafloor mapping for the sake of national security, particularly close to their own shorelines, but NOAA’s mission as a part of Seabed 2030 is based on the principle of understanding this hidden part of our world better. There is so much unknown on the seafloor and it will be eye-opening when the mapping is complete in a few years.