Sparse Data Challenges NOAA In Mapping Arctic

The deputy administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the challenges for the agency in Arctic waters are huge as the region opens up to more vessel traffic.

Kathryn Sullivan says the agency responsible for surveying the ocean bottom and mapping coastlines has its work cut out for it as marine traffic increases with the loss of summer sea ice.

Sullivan says much of Alaska’s coastline and offshore waters are poorly mapped in comparison to more populated areas.

She says early British admiralty charts created with lead lines are not uncommon as a primary data source.

She says her agency is working hard but that economic opportunities in an ice-free Arctic are emerging faster than the speed at which information can be gathered.

Sullivan spoke Tuesday in Anchorage.