Naval Oceanography, Google Work Together to Visualize the World’s Oceans

Published 11:35 pm Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command is working with internet company Google, Inc., with facilitation by DOER Marine Operations, Inc.

A Cooperative Research and Development Agreement allows Google to use certain unclassified bathymetric data sets and sea surface temperatures from the Naval Oceanographic Office as well as meteorological data from Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center. NAVOCEANO and FNMOC are subordinate commands of NMOC.

The unclassified bathymetric data sets and sea surface temperatures from the NAVOCEANO were incorporated in the newest version of Google Earth, launched Feb. 2.

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As part of the research and development agreement, the Navy has received Google Earth Enterprise licenses which provide for technical support that will enable the Navy to better search, view and prepare products from their extensive oceanographic data holdings.

“We are excited about this project with Google because it will create greatly expanded global digital data holdings, promote understanding of the world’s oceans and enhance our ability to keep the Fleet safe,” said Rear Adm. David Titley, commander of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command.

The Naval Oceanographic Office, which traces its origins to 1830, has one of the world’s largest collections of ocean data.

The project will build expanded global digital data holdings. The public will have access to certain publicly releasable Navy ocean data and processes via the newest version of Google Earth, which enables users to dive beneath the surface of the sea and explore the world’s oceans. Since 2005, Google Earth has provided access to the world’s geographic information via satellite imagery, maps and Google’s search capabilities. Educational content on the Google site will enhance the public’s understanding of the Navy’s ocean data and its importance to the Fleet and environmental stewardship.

Although the Navy has used ocean data visualization technology for about 15 years, developing, integrating and interpreting these visualizations requires an advanced knowledge of information technology. The tools provided by Google, Inc., will give public users access to and use of visualization software technology.

As part of the agreement, the Navy has received Google Earth Enterprise licenses for Google’s latest software to update their geospatial information and services display techniques of databases and model data. This software will make visualization and manipulation of data as well as searches of NAVOCEANO’s oceanographic data holdings easier for DoD users.

Additionally through the CRADA, DOER will endeavor to provide data on marine conservation that the Navy can use to comply with federal regulations and recent court orders on use of sonar. This information will be available only to DoD users on secure websites.

Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command directs the Navy’s meteorology and oceanography programs and includes about 3,000 officer, enlisted and civilian personnel located worldwide. For more information visit