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IHO Data Centre for Digital Bathymetry (DCDB)

The IHO DCDB was established in 1990 to steward the worldwide collection of bathymetric data. The Centre archives and shares, freely and without restrictions, depth data contributed by mariners. The IHO DCDB is hosted by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on behalf of the IHO Member States.

DCDB Map Viewer screenshot

IHO DCDB Data Viewer highlighting ship tracks and data availability over the Pacific Ocean and neighboring regions

The DCDB archive includes over 30 terabytes of oceanic depth soundings acquired with multibeam and singlebeam sonars by hydrographic, oceanographic and industry vessels during surveys or while on passage.

The DCDB also archives and provides access to data contributed in support of the IHO Crowdsourced Bathymetry (CSB) initiative.

The IHO DCDB Data Viewer shows the global coverage of the DCDB's bathymetric data holdings as well as the spatial extent of data archived at other repositories via web services.

Access Data

The World Reference for Raw Bathymetry

The IHO DCDB consists primarily of unedited single and multibeam bathymetric data contributed by industry, government, academia, and crowdsource efforts. These data are a public resource that are routinely used to produce improved, regional and global bathymetric maps and grids in support of science and exploration.

The DCDB also serves as the long-term archive for the GEBCO Ocean Mapping Programme and the Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 project, which is a global initiative that aspires to create a complete global ocean map by 2030.

Heightened awareness and global focus on the ocean has resulted from a number of high profile initiatives (e.g., The Paris Agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)). These initiatives highlight the lack of comprehensive global bathymetric coverage, a recognised fundamental element to achieve the goals of each.

Global map of oceanic surveys

Less than 18% of the deep ocean floor has been mapped with direct measurement and approximately 50% of the world’s coastal waters remain unsurveyed. (Source: GEBCO 2019)

How to Contribute Data to the IHO DCDB

Contact bathydata@iho.int for more information on contributing data or sharing web services to the IHO DCDB.
Refer to Submitting Marine Geophysical Data to the IHO DCDB for how to package and submit data.

Governments, organizations, academia, industry and individuals are encouraged to contribute data to the IHO DCDB.

Bathymetric data and metadata can be submitted via File Transfer Protocol (FTP), email, or mail (hard drive) in the formats listed below.

  • Raw sonar data: MGD77T or the original manufacturer's format
  • Processed data: gsf, BAG, NetCDF, tiff, xyz, sd, asc, etc.
  • Metadata: XML or text

Other formats and products will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Learn more about contributing crowdsourced bathymetry.

IHO Member States are invited to provide sounding data extracted from their Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC). Only soundings from ENC cells in navigational purpose bands 2 and 3 are requested. For more information, please refer to IHO Circular Letter 11/2016.

Data contributors (Government, industry, academia, international projects, crowdsourced bathymetry and others) work with the IHO DCDB to provide Data Uses for Hydrographic offices, GEBCO products, regional mapping, web applications, international agencies and others
CruisePack Software

NOAA NCEI is developing and testing CruisePack, a data packaging and metadata gathering software tool that simplifies how a data provider collects and submits cruise-based data. CruisePack features a simple user interface to control packager operation and facilitate metadata entry. Once the user completes metadata entry, data packaging is automatic. CruisePack copies the data, generates machine-parseable JSON metadata records and creates a checksum manifest file; all contained in a structured data package conforming to the BagIt specification.

CruisePack aims to meet a growing community need to submit geophysical data efficiently and in a consistent format. Learn more and download CruisePack.

IHO Crowdsourced Bathymetry Initiative

Crowdsourced bathymetry (CSB) is the collection of depth measurements from vessels, using standard navigation instruments, while engaged in routine maritime operations. CSB can be used to supplement the more rigorous and scientific bathymetric coverage done by hydrographic offices, industry, and researchers around the world.

In 2014, the IHO recognized that traditional survey vessels alone could not be relied upon to solve data deficiency issues and agreed there was a need to encourage and support all mariners in an effort to “map the gaps.” An initiative was established to support and enable mariners and professionally manned vessels to collect CSB. This approach leverages underway x, y, z, t data already being collected on vessels with common commercial echo sounders and Global Navigation Satellite System receivers.

Contributing CSB Data to the DCDB

The DCDB accepts CSB contributions through a network of "Trusted Nodes," which may be organizations, companies or universities serving as data liaisons between mariners (data collectors) and the DCDB. Trusted Nodes may supply data logging equipment, provide technical support to vessels, download data from data loggers, and be responsible for data transfer directly to the DCDB.

The following documents clarify some aspects on CSB related to the submission of data to IHO DCDB:

Those interested in contributing data or becoming a Trusted Node should contact the DCDB at bathydata@iho.int.

IHO Guidance on Crowdsourced Bathymetry

The IHO's Crowdsourced Bathymetry Working Group, comprised of international scientific, governmental and commercial hydrographic experts, was tasked by the IHO to draft a document that describes what constitutes CSB, the installation and use of data loggers, preferred data formats, and instructions for submitting data to the IHO DCDB.

The guidance document also provides information about data uncertainty to help data collectors and data users better understand quality and accuracy issues with crowdsourced bathymetry.

B-12 Edition 2.0.2 IHO Guidance Document on Crowdsourced Bathymetry

The Role of CSB
  • Supports national and regional development activities

  • Identifies uncharted features

  • Verifies charted information

  • Confirms that existing charts are appropriate for the latest traffic patterns

  • Fills gaps where data is scarce (Arctic, SIDS, open ocean)

  • Useful along shallow, complex coastlines where traditional survey vessels cannot access (areas may be more frequently visited by recreational boaters)

Crowdsourced Bathymetry Mapping Projects and Use Cases

Great Lakes Observing System
NOAA Chart Adequacy Assessment
The Great Barrier Reef Project
Canadian Hydrographic Service: Inside Passage
The Hydroball Project