Some researchers would tire of working at sea, especially after accumulating more than five years on the ocean. But as he prepares for a 49-day trip to the Arctic in August, Larry Mayer is still excited about the prospect of hitting the high seas.
“Oh yeah, it hasn’t depreciated,” he says. “It’s still damn fun.”
Dr. Mayer, founding director of the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire, comes to campus Wednesday to deliver the first public lecture of Dalhousie Oceans Week. It’s a sort-of homecoming for the researcher, who was an assistant professor in Dalhousie’s Department of Oceanography in the 1980s.
He’ll discuss the evolution of ocean mapping as a discipline, which he argues went relatively unchanged for more than 4,000 years before being revolutionized in his lifetime.
“If you’re considering land mapping, we have satellites that can show us in excruciating detail, but it’s quite a challenge if you want to see water in that fashion,” he says. “But now our mapping techniques are moving well beyond the ocean floor to include water columns, from gas movements to fish.”
For example, his Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping played a crucial role in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, spending months at sea charting oil movements in the Atlantic.
“First and foremost, ocean mapping is crucial for safety and navigation – 95 per cent of trade is still done by sea, so a ship running aground can be both an ecological and economic disaster. But it also applies to natural resource management, mapping cable routes, tsunami prediction, heat transfer in the ocean and more. It’s crucial work.”
For details on the lecture, please see the Dalhousie Oceans Week website.
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