what is used to measure ocean depth

what is used to measure ocean depth

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In case you’ve seen Jaws, The Meg or any deep-sea thriller, you then’ve seen a few of the scariest ocean creatures people have imagined.

However a lot of these creatures had been the truth is actual, just like the megalodon — a prehistoric shark that might be the dimensions of a college bus! We don’t know the way deep they lived within the ocean. Nevertheless, because of fashionable expertise we are able to say that present-day sharks are generally discovered at depths of round 2,000 meters (6,500 ft). However how do we all know this?

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On this installment of “How Do You Measure It?,” we shall be trying on the strategies scientists and researchers use to precisely measure the depth of the ocean.

Very similar to the land’s floor with mountains and hills, the ocean flooring or seabed isn’t utterly flat. There are flat surfaces, however there are all kinds of underwater landforms resembling canyons, trenches and underwater volcanoes.

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The typical depth of the ocean is 3,700 meters (12,100 ft). However the deepest half ever recorded is positioned within the western a part of the Pacific Ocean, within the Mariana Trench, at a depth of round 11,000 meters (36,200 ft).

Bathymetry is the scientific time period for measuring the depth of water in oceans, lakes and rivers. Bathymetric maps are much like land maps in that they present the completely different underwater landforms in a selected space. Scientists and researchers can use completely different strategies to measure ocean depth.

Let’s check out these completely different strategies:

1. Sonar

The commonest and quickest approach of measuring ocean depth makes use of sound. Ships utilizing expertise referred to as sonar, which stands for sound navigation and ranging, can map the topography of the ocean flooring. The gadget sends sound waves to the underside of the ocean and measures how lengthy it takes for an echo to return. The “echo” is the sound wave reflecting off the seabed and returning to the sonar gadget.

Multibeam echosounders (MBEs), a kind of sonar that sends out speedy sound waves in a fanlike formation to scan the underside of the ocean flooring, are utilized by the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Affiliation (NOAA) to measure the depth of the ocean. Ships utilizing sonar transfer forwards and backwards in a gridlike formation to map out particular areas of the ocean flooring.

Ship on the ocean. A triangle coming from the bottom of the ship spreads out into the ocean to show a device scanning the floor.

2. Radar and satellite tv for pc

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One other various, although not as quick as sonar, is radar. Much like sonar, radar requires sending out a kind of wave that pings off an object and displays again. The distinction is that radar makes use of radio waves, a type of electromagnetic wave. However as a result of electromagnetic waves journey slower in water in contrast with air and turn out to be diminished as they journey by way of water, they’re extra very best for atmospheric measurements.

Nevertheless, there’s one other technique that mixes radar with satellite tv for pc as a method to measure ocean depth. A radar altimeter is a tool that measures the space from land to air by timing how lengthy it takes for radio waves to replicate from the floor again to a satellite tv for pc. The floor of the ocean, which bulges outward and inward in methods troublesome for our eyes to acknowledge, resembles the topography of the ocean flooring, and so the radar altimeter can be utilized towards the ocean floor to measure ocean depth. Researchers can use the info obtained from a radar altimeter to map components of the ocean, and the method has even been used on spacecraft resembling these learning the floor of Venus.

Regardless of some great benefits of utilizing sonar to measure ocean depth, it takes a really very long time for a ship to map a piece of the ocean flooring. It will take nearly 125 years to completely map the ocean flooring, which is why solely a fraction of the world’s oceans have been mapped. However as a result of the ocean floor mimics the topography of the ocean flooring, it’s already well-known what the seabed seems to be like.

However that doesn’t diminish the significance of measuring the depth of the ocean and the functions that come from such knowledge. Scientists have been capable of uncover numerous life kinds residing within the deep — just like the ninja lanternshark — in addition to use the info towards particular functions like navigation, creating nautical maps and even furthering analysis efforts in environmental conservation.

Due to the advances in expertise, we’ve strategies to measure ocean depth and study extra in regards to the creatures residing within the sea in addition to develop our information of the ocean and our influence on it.

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