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Expanding our knowledge of Arctic Ocean bathymetry

24 July 2019

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Our knowledge of the depth and shape of the Arctic Ocean floor – its bathymetry – is insufficient. Owing to year-round sea-ice coverage and the cost of research in this remote region, much of the Arctic Ocean's bathymetry has remained a mystery, until now.

Bathymetry maps are crucial for studying ocean dynamics, currents and tides, as well as for ship safety. Several campaigns to map seafloor bathymetry through ship soundings have been proposed, but only small fractions of the Arctic Ocean have ever been covered. 

Scientists from DTU Space, Denmark's national space research institute, have published a paper that reveals the first Arctic bathymetry map using marine gravity.

The surface of the ocean is not flat. Because of gravitational pull, the height of the ocean surface mimics the rise and fall of the ocean floor. Areas of greater mass such as underwater mountains have a higher gravity and therefore attract more water creating a rise in the sea surface.

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