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Maritime Forum

Map of the Week – Mean underwater depth

The Map of the Week shows the bathymetry - the average depth of the water column - in the European region.


On 8 June, people around the planet celebrated World Ocean Day. Many activities and events were organized across the world. This year’s theme for World Ocean Day is ‘The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods’. In the context of global celebrations, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission announced the first Decade Actions officially endorsed as part of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, 2021-2030 (the ‘Ocean Decade’). The endorsed Decade Actions were selected for their focus on solutions and ability to accelerate the generation and uptake of ocean knowledge for sustainable development; for their use of innovative technology; for their transdisciplinary efforts to co-design solutions between scientists and users of ocean knowledge; and for their respect of inclusivity, empowering women, early-career professionals and indigenous knowledge holders across their activities. [1]

Several endorsed programmes concern the deep ocean. The deep ocean is generally defined as the depth at which light begins to dwindle, typically around 200 meters. [2] How does mean underwater depth – referred to as bathymetry - vary in the ocean and seas? This is the focus of this week’s map that shows local mean underwater depth in the European region down to an impressive nearly 6,000 m. Worldwide, the average depth of the ocean is 3,682 meters. [3] The first principle of ocean literacy points out that Earth has one big ocean with many features. Given the average depth of the ocean and the fact that the ocean covers approximately 70% of the planet’s surface, it is not surprising that most of Earth’s water (97%) is in the ocean. [4] Interestingly, the seventh principle of ocean literacy underlines that the ocean is largely unexplored. The Ocean Decade is designed to facilitate global communication and mutual learning across research and stakeholder communities. It will work to meet the needs of scientists, policy makers, industry, civil society and the wider public, but it will also support new, collaborative partnerships that can deliver more effective science-based management of our ocean space and resources. [5]

The European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) is a network of organisations who work together to observe the sea, process the data according to international standards and make that information freely available as interoperable data layers and data products. Next week, from 14 to 16 June 2021, the online EMODnet Open Conference will provide a unique opportunity to bring together EMODnet partners, data providers and users from Europe and beyond, connecting across stakeholders communities to showcase current EMODnet data, data products and services, and look ahead to co-design EMODnet's next phase to 2030 and beyond. On 16 June, the online European Atlas of the Seas workshop will provide participants with the opportunity to learn about the many different aspects of the Atlas, from the story behind map layers to how the Atlas can be used in education and ocean literacy.

What can you do to better connect with the ocean and learn about the ocean, seas and coasts?

Access the map

The data in this map are provided by EMODnet.