How Big Data Contributed to the Largest Digital Map of the World’s Seafloor

seafloormapThe very first digital map of the world’s seafloor has been created using big data, and according to researchers from Australia who compiled the map, it could be a major step in solving the worldwide climate change disaster.

According to Phys.org, scientists from the University of Sydney’s School of Geosciences recently compiled the map, which is currently the largest and most extensive map of the planet’s seafloor. It’s been 40 years since researchers have attempted to create such a map; the last time a global seafloor map was compiled was in 1970 — and back then, it was drawn out entirely by hand.

The map was just published in the academic journal Geology and the scientists involved in the map’s creation have stated that they hope — and possibly even expect — other scientists to use the information while researching ways to combat the Earth’s rising temperature.

Covering around 70% of the Earth’s surface, big bodies of water are often difficult to map out simply because technology isn’t always capable of measuring down to the very bottom of the seafloor. As with the latest map, scientists discovered many deep basins that are actually filled with the remains of microscopic creatures called phytoplankton.

These animals live on the surface in sunlit waters, said Dr. Adriana Dutkiewicz from the University of Sydney, but once they die, their remains fall to the bottom of the ocean and provide a “geological record” of the planet’s ecosystem.

Yahoo! reported that the researchers worked with data experts from the National ICT Australia (NICTA) to collect 50 years worth of data and approximately 15,000 individual samples while creating the map. The data engineers then plugged the data into algorithms to create an interactive digital map, which can be accessed for free.

The process might sound very complicated — and to be sure, it isn’t something that would have been feasible even just five years ago — but this kind of data analysis is actually prevalent in a variety of environments, and many organizations already use big data for everything from business intelligence development to project collaboration.

“This is a typical scenario where cloud based commercial applications and open source big data processing framework on demand is available to prototype or develop a proof of concept would be an invaluable tool in one’s arsenal to tackle such situations,” says Robert Joseph, CEO, Step Ahead Solutions, Inc. “This is where the services of cloud brokers come into play. Now there is fast growing segment of CSB(Cloud Services Brokerage) startups coming out with solutions unheard of before and it makes sense to take close look at it.”

For more information on the map — or to take a look at it yourself — head on over to GPlates.org. If this is what big data can already do, there’s no telling where it take us in just a few more years.

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