Apparently, the world and the universe aren't enough for Google, but that's a good thing for surfers and oceanographers: Google Ocean will provide a comprehensive 3D-map of all of the world's oceans, highlighting underwater topography in high detail, attractions like the Mariana Trench, and real-time conditions and updates. Just like Google Earth, users can zoom in and pan around their favorite underwater or seaside locations anywhere on Earth.
Google Ocean could serve as a huge boon to both surfers and oceanographers, who can track swells, oceanic conditions, and even find new hotspots. Information about the ocean is relayed through a basic layer that reflects the depth of the sea floor. Eventually, Google Ocean could include real-time layers reflecting nearly every aspect of the ocean, including weather patterns, currents, temperatures, shipwrecks, coral reefs, and algae blooms.
Google assembled a team of oceanographic and bathymetric experts to help plan and collect data for the world's oceans, an obviously monumental task that involves satellite mapping, ship sonar soundings, and high-resolution grids from oceanic research institutions. The compiled data would take over 100 years to map by boat alone.
Oceanographers are understandably stoked about the research possibilities of pooling all the world's oceanographic data into one open-source hub.
"Google will basically just provide the field and then everyone will come flocking to it," predicted Stephen P. Miller, head of the Geological Data Center at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. "There will be peer pressure to encourage people to get their data out there."
"We hope that one of the outcomes of Google Ocean will be an understanding of how much remains to be explored," said Miller of Scripps. "We know far more about the surface of Mars from a few weeks of radar surveying in orbit than we know of the bottom of the ocean after two centuries."
No word on when Google Ocean will debut, but you can cruise all kinds of oceanographic data at this other, unofficial Google Ocean (be careful, it's French).
In the meantime, all surfers should get at it before the entire world has the power to Google your secret break. Watch out, Laird Hamilton — I'm coming for yours, nonexistent surfing skills be damned.
— Ted Alvarez