Mapping the world’s oceans is the next ‘frontier’ and why it could help fight climate change

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FILE – In this Sept. 6, 2017 photo provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), fish swim in a reef at Pearl and Hermes Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. A decade-long effort by the world to save the world’s disappearing species and declining ecosystems has mostly failed so far, with fragile ecosystems like coral reefs and tropical forests in even more trouble than ever, according to a United Nations biodiversity report released on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. (Jacob Asher/NOAA via AP)

AUSTIN (KXAN) – The writers of Star Trek may have labeled space as the “final frontier” but we may know more about near-Earth space than we do about our own oceans.

In fact, we have more detailed maps of Mars than our oceans according to a study published in MIT Technology Review.

That lack of knowledge may be at a tipping point as technology and scientific motivation pushes for more study about our oceans

With climate change becoming increasingly concerning, the fact that the oceans absorb 90% of the warmth caused by emissions means that understanding every level of our ocean may be key to fighting climate change and understanding its effects.

Some progress is already underway. In 2017 the world’s first 3D ocean map was released and with it some incredible data and information. That first map is just a starting point though.

What will mapping the oceans get us?

The more we know about our oceans the more we can prevent destruction of sea-life habitats like coral reefs, and the better we can detect ocean pollution and mitigate overfishing.

Identifying problem areas in our oceans is key. Only 7% of the ocean is considered a protected area, compared to 15% of land. Remember, while not all of it is ocean, 70% of the world is covered by water, so the amount we protect is severely under proportional.

More mapping projects are underway including Seabed 2030, which aims to map the entire ocean floor by 2030.

Scientific study of our oceans may continue to grow as the United Nations declared 2021-2030 “The Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.”

Space may be the “final frontier” but ocean study may be the most important frontier in saving our planet and making it more habitable for those of us alive on it.

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