Research ship sets sail to map areas of the Arctic

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The NOAA ship Fairweather, a 231-foot survey vessel, departed July 7 from Kodiak, Alaska, on a mission to conduct hydrographic surveys in remote areas of the Arctic where depths have not been measured since before the U.S. bought Alaska in 1867.

NOAA will use the data to update nautical charts to help mariners safely navigate this but sparsely charted region, which is now seeing increased vessel traffic because of the significant loss of Arctic sea ice.

Modern U.S. navigational charts are considered the best in the world, and are updated regularly by NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. However, they are only as good as the data available, and many of the soundings on today’s Arctic charts were acquired in the 1800s with a weighted lead line, an antiquated technique.

Click here for a press release on the project.