The IHO DCDB was established in 1990 to steward the worldwide collection of bathymetric data. The Centre archives and shares, freely and without restrictions, depth data contributed by mariners. The IHO DCDB is hosted by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on behalf of the IHO Member States.
IHO DCDB Data Viewer highlighting ship tracks and data availability over the Pacific Ocean and neighboring regions
The DCDB archive includes over 30 terabytes of oceanic depth soundings acquired with multibeam and singlebeam sonars by hydrographic, oceanographic and industry vessels during surveys or while on passage.
The DCDB also archives and provides access to data contributed in support of the IHO Crowdsourced Bathymetry (CSB) initiative.
The IHO DCDB Data Viewer shows the global coverage of the DCDB's bathymetric data holdings as well as the spatial extent of data archived at other repositories via web services.
The IHO DCDB consists primarily of unedited single and multibeam bathymetric data contributed by industry, government, academia, and crowdsource efforts. These data are a public resource that are routinely used to produce improved, regional and global bathymetric maps and grids in support of science and exploration.
The DCDB also serves as the long-term archive for the GEBCO Ocean Mapping Programme and the Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 project, which is a global initiative that aspires to create a complete global ocean map by 2030.
Heightened awareness and global focus on the ocean has resulted from a number of high profile initiatives (e.g., The Paris Agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)). These initiatives highlight the lack of comprehensive global bathymetric coverage, a recognised fundamental element to achieve the goals of each.
Less than 18% of the deep ocean floor has been mapped with direct measurement and approximately 50% of the world’s coastal waters remain unsurveyed. (Source: GEBCO 2019)
firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on contributing data or sharing web services to the IHO DCDB.
Refer to Submitting Marine Geophysical Data to the IHO DCDB for how to package and submit data.
Governments, organizations, academia, industry and individuals are encouraged to contribute data to the IHO DCDB.
Bathymetric data and metadata can be submitted via File Transfer Protocol (FTP), email, or mail (hard drive) in the formats listed below.
Other formats and products will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Learn more about contributing crowdsourced bathymetry.
IHO Member States are invited to provide sounding data extracted from their Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC). Only soundings from ENC cells in navigational purpose bands 2 and 3 are requested. For more information, please refer to IHO Circular Letter 11/2016.
NOAA NCEI is developing and testing CruisePack, a data packaging and metadata gathering software tool that simplifies how a data provider collects and submits cruise-based data. CruisePack features a simple user interface to control packager operation and facilitate metadata entry. Once the user completes metadata entry, data packaging is automatic. CruisePack copies the data, generates machine-parseable JSON metadata records and creates a checksum manifest file; all contained in a structured data package conforming to the BagIt specification.
CruisePack aims to meet a growing community need to submit geophysical data efficiently and in a consistent format. Learn more and download CruisePack.
Crowdsourced bathymetry (CSB) is the collection of depth measurements from vessels, using standard navigation instruments, while engaged in routine maritime operations. CSB can be used to supplement the more rigorous and scientific bathymetric coverage done by hydrographic offices, industry, and researchers around the world.
In 2014, the IHO recognized that traditional survey vessels alone could not be relied upon to solve data deficiency issues and agreed there was a need to encourage and support all mariners in an effort to “map the gaps.” An initiative was established to support and enable mariners and professionally manned vessels to collect CSB. This approach leverages underway x, y, z, t data already being collected on vessels with common commercial echo sounders and Global Navigation Satellite System receivers.
The DCDB accepts CSB contributions through a network of "Trusted Nodes," which may be organizations, companies or universities serving as data liaisons between mariners (data collectors) and the DCDB. Trusted Nodes may supply data logging equipment, provide technical support to vessels, download data from data loggers, and be responsible for data transfer directly to the DCDB.
CSB data must be provided in either CSV or GeoJSON, and capture the minimum required information (XYZ, timestamp). Examples of both data formats can be found in our Ingest API documentation. As a trusted node, you will be asked to provide additional information about yourself (provider contact point/organization name, provider email, and unique ID).
Those interested in contributing data or becoming a Trusted Node should contact the DCDB at email@example.com.
The IHO's Crowdsourced Bathymetry Working Group, comprised of international scientific, governmental and commercial hydrographic experts, was tasked by the IHO to draft a document that describes what constitutes CSB, the installation and use of data loggers, preferred data formats, and instructions for submitting data to the IHO DCDB.
The guidance document also provides information about data uncertainty to help data collectors and data users better understand quality and accuracy issues with crowdsourced bathymetry.
Supports national and regional development activities
Identifies uncharted features
Verifies charted information
Confirms that existing charts are appropriate for the latest traffic patterns
Fills gaps where data is scarce (Arctic, SIDS, open ocean)
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in partnership with George Mason University, is using the crowdsourced depths submitted to the database by Rose Point Navigation Systems, to assess the adequacy of its nautical chart products. Comparing mariner-supplied CSB against existing charted depths and survey data, NOAA can determine when areas require updated survey information and identify chart discrepancies before an incident occurs. The information is particularly important in areas where the bottom shifts frequently. Additionally, CSB measurements over well-trafficked or repeated routes provide a time series to better refine survey planning for different areas and harbors. This information allows NOAA to better prioritize and plan survey operations and maintain nautical charts.
The Crowdsourced Bathymetry on the Great Barrier Reef Project uses TeamSurv-supplied SmartLog USB data loggers installed onto volunteer vessels to collect singlebeam depth data throughout the Great Barrier Reef in north-eastern Australia. Funding for the loggers and installation costs were provided by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. A wide variety of vessels from dive expedition boats, luxury motor yachts, commercial fishing and government vessels, now generate data coverage to remote parts of the Great Barrier Reef previously lacking digital bathymetry data. These new data are being used to improve a high-resolution 3D depth model for the Great Barrier Reef that is widely used by the general public, marine managers and scientists.
The Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) has used CSB to update several Inside Passage charts along the coastal routes stretching from Seattle, Washington, to Juneau, Alaska. The data were downloaded and easily converted into CHS formats. A systematic comparison of charted depths less than 10 m yielded improved charted channel depths, data density and improved chart compilation in areas that were surveyed with singlebeam. CSB helped prioritize survey areas for the following survey season and initiated the publication of Notices to Mariners.
Canada envisions the development of a crowdsourced approach to face the huge challenge of collecting hydrographic data in the Northern Canada area. About 47% of the 4.4 million km2 of the Canadian Arctic is underwater and only 10% of these waters are adequately surveyed. Ice is melting more than ever in Northern Canada thus, marine traffic is increasing and safety of navigation at sea will become a greater risk. In 2017, the Canadian Ocean Mapping Research and Education Network (COMREN) initiated a pilot project: Crowd Sourced Bathymetry in Northern Canada (CSBNC). This project led to the development of systems and methods that allow the collection, processing and dissemination of hydrographic data in the Arctic through a crowd-based platform involving members of Inuit communities.
FarSounder designs and manufactures 3D Forward Looking Sonar (3D-FLS) for navigation and obstacle avoidance. FarSounder customers, including expeditionary cruise ships and private superyachts, use the system to safely explore exotic and poorly charted or uncharted areas. The company began working with select customers with itineraries including Antarctica, the Northwest Passage, and the South Pacific, to collect geo-referenced 3D-FLS data, along with data from other sensors connected to the FarSounder system. This data is used to develop new algorithms and improve sonar processing algorithms in different environments.
However, shortly after starting the Expedition Sourced Data Collection campaign, FarSounder learned about the efforts of the IHO’s Crowdsourced Bathymetry Working Group to develop and publish guidelines and a framework for the contribution of crowdsourced bathymetry. As a result, FarSounder became registered as a NOAA Trusted Node soon after to contribute in support of the IHO/NOAA initiative. Now, FarSounder is receiving sonar data from customers visiting many remote areas of the globe. Program participants are given the option of submitting some of the bathymetry data they have collected to the recently established IHO/Data Center for Digital Bathymetry database of crowdsourced bathymetry. FarSounder is honored to facilitate the contribution of data in an effort to map the world’s oceans using crowdsourcing. They are dedicated in doing their part to make the oceans safer and look forward to seeing what this joint effort can do toward that goal.