Depth soundings are more than a 'ping'. Digital depth data provide information about digital elevation model derivatives and hence additional input parameters for ocean models. The provision of digital data enables complex data processing for supervised classification or GIS based modeling and prediction. The Southern Ocean bathymetry is of great importance for the modeling and understanding of ocean gateways and barriers, the nature of the thermohaline circulation with Antarctic bottom water formation, and the relevance of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current for Antarcticas glaciation. The sea floor topography controls ocean circulation and ocean mixing - and has strong influence on global climate.
Following the success of the International Bathymetric Chart of the Arctic Ocean (IBCAO), the International Bathymetric Chart of the Southern Ocean (IBCSO) was initiated in 2006. The objective of the IBCSO program is the design and implementation of an enhanced digital database that contains bathymetric data available south of 60S latitude. Based on this data container a consistent bathymetric chart of the Southern Ocean is designed.
The IBCSO program is endorsed by international organizations such as the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), and the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) as an Expert Group under the GeoSciences Group.
Therefore the IBCSO Expert Group provides services and products for the scientific community, e.g. hydrographers, oceanographers, climatologists, biologists, geologists and geophysicists. The range of products comprises maps, gridded data, metadata, web services, and an operational scientific group.