International Support and Cooperation

Training and Data Support

The U.S. ECS Project has assisted more than 30 countries in their efforts to delineate their extended continental shelves. The Project has also benefitted from the experiences and views of other countries and experts.

Over the past 10 years, the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI, formerly the National Geophysical Data Center) has provided bathymetric and seismic data directly to at least 20 countries. Data has been provided directly to: Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Cuba, Kiribati, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, The Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, Vietnam, and South Africa. NCEI also provided data to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and its efforts to assist other countries including: Cabo Verde, Chile, Ecuador, Madagascar, The Maldives, Mauritania, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, and Vanuatu. Many other countries have downloaded data from NCEI servers in support of their ECS delineation efforts.

In September 2015, the U.S. ECS Project hosted a week-long training session on how to delineate an ECS and compile the necessary analysis and documentation. The training was conducted in cooperation with the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS) and included present and former members of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. Nearly 50 ECS specialists from numerous countries of the Americas and Pacific islands participated.

Cooperative Data Collection with Canada in the Arctic Ocean

Much of the data necessary to delineate the continental shelf of the United States and Canada in the Arctic Ocean was collected cooperatively in a two-ship operation.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) Healy collected multibeam bathymetric data and created a straight and open path through the ice for the Canadian Coast Guard ship Louis S. Saint Laurent, which followed collecting seismic reflection and refraction data with sensors towed behind the stern of the ship.

This two-ship approach, conducted over four field seasons, collected more than 13,000 linear kilometers of seismic data; this joint work was both productive and necessary in the Arctic’s difficult and varying weather and ice conditions. This collaboration saved millions of dollars for both countries, provided data both countries need, ensured that data are collected only once in the same area, and increased scientific and diplomatic cooperation.