Friday, February 15, 2008

New World Map Highlights Oceans; Land Masses Are Blank

New world map courtesy of National Center for Ecological Analysis & Synthesis

Most world maps are drawn to show details of the world's land masses but they leave the oceans blank.

Now a group of scientists have created a map that's just the opposite. The continents are a blank gray, while the oceans are intricately detailed.

The map was created by a team from the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara, Calif. The purpose of the map is to call attention to changes resulting from coastal pollution, overfishing, and other human activities. Pristine areas, shown in blue, are found in oceans near the poles. Stressed marine regions are yellow and orange. Intensely troubled ocean waters are red. The team leader, Ben Halpern, says the red zones are near large cities and overcrowded coastlines.

"These are the most impacted ocean areas on the planet," Halpern says. "It's where the combination of human activities, from shipping to fishing to land-based pollution, are coming together to make things really bad."

The map shows that the most disturbed ocean areas include parts of the Atlantic near the East Coast of the United States, as well as the Persian Gulf, Europe's North Sea, and the South and East China Seas. Halpern says small zones of pristine ocean water within damaged areas need to be preserved as a first step toward saving more badly damaged ocean waters.

For a link to the audio of an NPR report about the map, the written NPR report, and an animated flyover map of global ocean damage, click here.

To see the full article from the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis about making the map, and a larger graphic of the map, click here.

John Nielsen. "Scientists map ocean damage." Feb 14, 2008. All Things Considered. NPR.

Keywords:: ocean damage, ocean map, marine biology, overfishing, ocean pollution

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