London, 23 March 2022 – The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project and Seatrec have launched Project NEMO (Novel Echosounder to Map the Ocean) as part of a newly signed memorandum of understanding. The project will aid ocean mapping in some of the world’s most remote and inaccessible areas.

Seatrec has brought together an interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers to develop an autonomous profiling float with an echosounder to map the seafloor. The novel thermally recharging echosounder float (called NEMO) is the integration of three technology breakthroughs over recent years: autonomous profiling floats as demonstrated by the Argo program; the innovative echosounder designed by Airmar Technologies in collaboration with Innomar Technologies; and the transformative ocean thermal energy harvesting technology developed by Seatrec.

Project NEMO will start with a pilot demonstration deploying a cluster of NEMO floats to cover an area centered around Point Nemo – the most remote location on planet earth. Upon a successful pilot demonstration, the NEMO float clusters can be deployed at selected locations to map the gaps in seafloor bathymetry.

Seabed 2030 is a collaborative project between The Nippon Foundation and GEBCO to inspire the complete mapping of the world’s ocean by 2030, and to compile all bathymetric data into the freely available GEBCO Ocean Map. GEBCO is a joint programme of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and is the only organisation with a mandate to map the entire ocean floor. Seabed 2030 is a flagship programme of the Ocean Decade.

Seatrec designs and manufactures energy harvesting solutions that generate electricity from naturally occurring temperature differences in ocean waters. The US-based startup’s patented energy harvesting technology provides a sustainable way of generating renewable energy which can be used to power deep water oceanographic research equipment, including autonomous underwater vehicles.

“Point Nemo is particularly challenging and expensive to study and map because it’s 2,688 kilometers (1,670 miles) from the nearest land, which makes it emblematic of the difficulties that scientists face in understanding and mapping the ocean as a whole,” explains Yi Chao, Ph.D., CEO and Founder of Seatrec. “Successfully deploying technology that can accurately and inexpensively map the most remote point in the ocean will help us chart a way forward to the world’s first high-resolution map of the seafloor.”

Leading Project NEMO is seafloor mapping pioneer Larry Mayer, Professor and Director of the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire and co-Head of Seabed 2030’s Arctic and North Pacific Data Center: “The clock is ticking on the international community’s unprecedented effort to map the seafloor so we can understand and protect the ocean’s resources. Next-generation ocean mapping technologies – like Seatrec’s – are vital to getting the data we need in a scalable and cost-effective way.”

All data shared with the Seabed 2030 Project is included in the GEBCO global grid, which is free and publicly available.


Main Image Credit: Seatrec

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