IBCNA – International Bathymetric Chart of the North Atlantic

The North Atlantic is arguably the best mapped ocean in the world, with a huge quantity of inconsistent sounding data featuring a tremendous variability in accuracy, resolution and density. Therefore it is an ideal test area for data compilation techniques.

The proposed International Bathymetric Chart of the North Atlantic (IBCNA) is an undertaking to assemble and to rationalize all available bathymetric observations from the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas north of the Equator and south of 64°N into a consistent Digital Bathymetric Model (DBM). Neither of today's most commonly-used large scale models – General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) (based upon digitized contours derived from single beam echo sounding measurements) and ETOPO2 (satellite altimetry combined with single beam echo soundings) – incorporates the large amount of recent multibeam echo sounding data, and there is a need for a more up-to-date DBM. This could serve a broad variety of scientific and technical purposes:

• geological investigations
• future survey and field operation planning
• oceanographic modeling
• deep ocean tsunami propagation research
• habitat mapping and biodiversity studies
• evaluating the long-term effect of sea level change on coastal areas

In addition, this new compilation of the North Atlantic could be incorporated in future versions of global databases (e.g. GEBCO), as was done with the International Bathymetric Chart of the Arctic Ocean (IBCAO).


Data coverage and data age in the IBCNA area (data from U.S. repositories, younger surveys plotted on top of older ones).

For the compilation of a new DBM of the North Atlantic, a combination of a GIS and a spatial database is used for data storage, verification and processing. A database has been set up, which can flexibly accommodate all kinds of raw and processed data. Coming steps will be data quality analysis based on metadata information and cross-survey checks, development of algorithms for merging and gridding heterogeneous sounding data, research on variable grids for bathymetric data, the treatment of error propagation through the gridding process and the production of a high-resolution (approx. 500 m) DBM accompanied by a confidence model.

Further information
Information for data providers on metadata and data format (PDF)

Contact information:
Benjamin Hell
Martin Jakobsson
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Department of Geological Sciences
Svante Arrhenius väg 8, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden | Phone: +46 (0)8 16 20 00 | Web administrator ines.jakobsson[at]geo.su.se
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