The Arctic is an area where traffic is increasing and mapping is lacking quality or lacking totally.

The Norwegian Mapping Authority's Hydrographic Service participates in meetings of the Arctic Hydrographic Commission (ARHC), represented by Birte Noer Borrevik and Evert Flier.

Accessibility of marine geographic information for sustainable development of the region is also a topic at ARHC meetings, and this is something that is becoming increasingly important. Therefore, the Commission decided to establish a working group to work with geographic infrastructure in marine applications in the Arctic region. The working group ARMSDIWG shall be chaired by the United States and the Norwegian Mapping Authority's representative is Gerhard Heggebø from the hydrographic division.

Blue economy in the Arctic

The Arctic and Antarctic offer challenges that we cannot solve alone. Although territorial waters and the continental shelf have boundaries that are clearly defined, cooperation in our oceans requires a common approach. Marine transport and marine biological developments as a result of climate change must be considered from a holistic perspective that goes beyond our national borders. It requires international cooperation.

Increased interest in the High North

An increased global interest in northern regions leads to increased traffic in waters that are poorly or not mapped at all. These are areas with long distances to rescue capacity, where ice, darkness and extreme weather conditions can make it challenging to navigate vessels in a responsible manner.

These facts led to the creation of ARHC in 2010. Hydrographic agencies from all over the world are associated with the hydrographic Organization (IHO), including the Norwegian Mapping Authority's hydrographic division.

Under the IHO umbrella hydrographic agencies cooperate on navigation safety in the world's oceans. Up until 2010, the Arctic was the sixteenth and last sea area that lacked a structured cooperation. Then a new regional hydrographic cooperation agreement was signed by Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States, which later formed the hydrographic Commission for the Arctic (ARHC).

Cooperation with the Arctic Council

In recent years ARHC has sought a greater degree of cooperation with the Arctic Council. ARHC provides yearly reports on the status of available depth data in the Arctic to the working group ‘Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment’ (PAME).

Sharing experiences

At the ARHC meeting in October the Norwegian Mapping Authority presented their work on digitalization of their nautical information publication ‘the Norwegian Pilot books' and the PRIMAR pilot project on the new draft navigational standard for 3D terrain models, S-102. Both roused great interest. The US Hydrographic Office (NOAA) requested a demo video of S-102 to motivate this project. "I thought I was seeing the future and it was really eye opening" wrote Jonathan Justi from NOAA in an email to Evert in the aftermath of ARHC's meeting.

The Commission meeting was combined with the Ocean Innovation conference, which featured several interesting and relevant speeches.

Canada has led the Commission this past year. After the meeting, Denmark took the lead, and they will thus host the next meeting in September 2017. Norway, through the Norwegian Mapping Authority’s hydrographic office, takes over chairmanship of the ARHC for one year from November 2017.

Demo of S-102

The demo videos here show bathymetric data in S-102 format combined with ENC and terrain model of land combined with aerial photography. This illustrates how the comparison of data can provide a better picture of the waters and help in planning the voyage. S-102 data combined with tides, can provide better information about the depth under keel, water column and safe depth. The demo area is Farsund in Vest-Agder.  

Members of five commissions

The Norwegian Mapping Authority’s hydrographic division represents Norway in five regional hydrographic commissions: Nordic (NHC), Arctic (ARHC), North Sea (NSHC folder), Antarctica (HCA) and Southern African and Islands (SAIHC).

Such regional cooperation is largely about sharing knowledge, "best practice experiences" and to find common solutions that will benefit the entire region.

Video about marine charting

IHO has published the English version of the Norwegian Mapping Authority’s cartoon about marine charting, ‘Mapping the Ocean’ on its website. The film was well received by the other hydrographic works, especially the Canadian Hydrographic Office, wishing to reuse the film to convey the same message in Canada.