International Bathymetric Chart of the Southern Ocean (IBCSO) Expert Group


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 Antarctica's glaciation. The sea floor topography controls ocean circulation and ocean mixing - and has strong influence on global climate.

The sea floor topography of the Southern Ocean is still largely unknown. Survey activities of modern icebreaking vessels during the last decade using multibeam and other systems have increased data availability, making it possible for compilations of new bathymetric charts around Antarctica.

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 objective of the International Bathymetric Chart of the Southern Ocean (IBCSO) programme is to gain better knowledge of the sea floor topography in the Southern Ocean. For that reason the IBCSO group collects and compiles bathymetric data from hydrographic offices, scientific institutions and data centres to create the first regional digital bathymetric model that covers all circum-Antarctic waters.

The digital bathymetric model of IBCSO Version 1.0 has a 500m x 500m resolution based on a Polar Stereographic projection for the area south of 60° S. It is publicly available together with a digital chart for printing.

For further information see the IBCSO website.