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SCAR XXXI WP07b: Report on IBCSO Status
XXXI SCAR Delegates Meeting
9-11 August 2010, Buenos Aires, Argentina

SCAR XXXI WP07b: Report on IBCSO Status

Working Paper 7b
Agenda Item: 5.1
Posted/Revised: August 7
Person Responsible: Schencke/Colin Summerhayes

Executive Summary

Title: Report on IBCSO Status

Author: H.-W. Schencke (AWI) and C. Summerhayes

Relevant URLs or references to other reports:, (updated link)

Introduction/ Background: In 2004 SCAR agreed to make the International Bathymetric Chart of the Southern Ocean (IBCSO) project an Expert Group under the SSG-GS. The IBCSO will lead to an upgrade of the bathymetric chart of the Southern Ocean as an aid to biologists (for habitat mapping), to geologists (for identifying clues to seafloor processes), and to physical oceanographers (by defining the sills controlling exchange of water between deep basins, as a key component for numerical ocean modeling). The chart will contribute to the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans sponsored by IOC (UNESCO) and the International Hydrographic Office.

Important Issues or Factors: IBSCO required the activity of a full time contract staff member of AWI. Funding for that post recently came to an end following the development of all of the IBCSO infrastructure and the compilation of large amounts of bathymetric data submitted by 11 SCAR nations. Far more such data exists and needs to be integrated into the database by an appropriate expert for the project to be completed.

Recommendations/Actions and Justification: It is recommended that efforts be made to either persuade AWI to continue to fund the position under the direction of Dr H.-W. Schencke, or to find shared sponsorship to cover the cost of the IBCSO post at AWI under his direction, until the project is completed. The SCAR Secretariat could be asked to work with AWI to find a solution to staffing problems concerning the future success and completion of SCAR's IBCSO project within a reasonable time-frame.

Expected Benefits/Outcomes: The outcome of the project – a map of the Southern Ocean floor - is entirely consistent with SCAR’s aim to support the broadest possible range of top quality science in a pan-Antarctic way. This is a collective endeavour requiring the sharing of resources by operating agencies owning bathymetric data in a way that leads to an end result of benefit to all SCAR ocean scientists. Bathymetry is in addition a key ingredient of SCAR’s SOOS programme. IBCSO is the offshore equivalent of BEDMAP, SCAR’s programme to establish the under-ice shape of the continent.

Partners: IOC and the IHO. The outcome of the project will also be of considerable interest to SCOR.

Budget Implications: Funding of the post should be primarily external by the interested national agencies, but could be supported with some seed-money from SCAR central funds as a means of attracting further sponsorship.