September 12, 2020

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey awarded a 5-year cooperative agreement to the University of New Hampshire for the continuation of the Joint Hydrographic Center. The Joint Hydrographic Center is a NOAA/University research and education partnership aimed at maintaining a world-leading center of excellence in hydrography and ocean mapping. The new award, which will begin in January 2021, will build on the work of the Center since its founding in 1999.
In announcing the award with New Hampshire’s congressional delegation on August 27, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, ranking member on the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations subcommittee, noted, “The University of New Hampshire’s Joint Hydrographic Center is a national center of excellence that has deepened our understanding of the world’s oceans. The Center is making significant contributions to education, research and technological advances in ocean mapping and hydrographic sciences, and it’s important that this work continue to be funded.”
The Joint Hydrographic Center has had a long history of developing tools and techniques that had a major impact on the field of hydrography as well as educating many of the leaders in the field. Over the last five years, the Center:
• continued in the development of innovative new approaches to increase the efficiency and accuracy of ocean mapping data processing,
• developed new approaches for calibrating mapping systems and extracting bathymetric data from satellite imagery,
• pioneered the use of autonomous vehicles for hydrographic and other mapping applications,
• developed tools to locate, visualize and quantify gas and oil seeps from the seafloor,
• explored the use of ocean mapping data to better understand seafloor and fisheries habitat, and
• developed innovative new approaches for visualizing, in both 3- and 4-D a range of oceanographic and ocean mapping data.
The Center will support the growing demand for precision navigation, investigating and developing novel, perceptually optimized visualization techniques for mariner-friendly display of modern navigational and oceanographic data products. Not only do these products include high-resolution bathymetry and shoreline, but also real-time and forecast water levels, ocean and estuary flow models from NOAA’s Operational Forecast Systems, AIS vessel traffic, and bridge air gap sensors. As part of this effort, the Center will investigate how to fit the visualizations within ECDIS standardized presentation modes and how to implement these techniques within ECDIS/PPU systems while simultaneously providing supplemental visual analysis tools to support decision making. Extending the mode in which these tools may be utilized we will also explore the use of augmented reality (AR) to provide heads-up navigational information to mariners.
The Joint Hydrographic Center’s most lasting contribution may be the new generation of hydrographers, ocean mappers, and ocean data scientists who are educated in the program. Since its founding, the center has awarded 183 graduate degrees and graduate certificates to students from the United States and 50 other countries, many of which are taking leading roles in the international hydrographic community.
(Source and image: NOAA – Students from the Joint Hydrographic Center)