New Satellite-Derived Bathymetry of Cook Islands

Satellite technology has been used to chart shallow areas of the Cook Islands’ seafloor in never-before-seen detail by scientists at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) working with the satellite data analytics company EOMAP GmbH.

The work was carried out as part of The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project, a collaboration aiming to bring together all available bathymetric data to produce the definitive map of the world’s ocean floor.

The discovery coincided with the One Ocean Summit, held in France, which saw UNESCO call on the international community to strengthen efforts in pursuit of mapping the remainder of the ocean floor. To date, 20.6 percent has been mapped.  

The chart of Suwarrow and Pukapuka in the Cook Islands builds upon decades-old surveys, with more accurate positioning and wider coverage, including information on harder to reach areas such as shallow lagoons.

The images are taken from two commercially owned satellites, World-View-2 and GeoEye-1, which provide extremely high-resolution pictures of the Earth’s surface. As a result, data accuracy is greatly improved. Satellite-derived bathymetry can be used to a maximum water depth of 30 m.

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