The University of New Hampshire’s Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping (CCOM) has received a $6.2 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The grant money will help to fund their continued work at the Joint Hydrographic Center, a formal cooperative partnership between the UNH and the NOAA and national center for expertise in ocean mapping and hydrographic sciences.

This funding will support ongoing research, training, and development of coastal and ocean mapping technologies, as well as allow researchers work on other products that could positively impact fisheries management, disaster mitigation, and even national security.

The JHC will continue to develop more advanced autonomous underwater vehicles and autonomous surface vehicles as platforms for hydrographic and other mapping surveys, as well as explore their capacity to support of shallow water coastal mapping. In particular, new work will aimed at using data collected in the water column to more accurately identify bathymetric hazards and wrecks, identify natural and man-made gas seeps, and map the distribution and behavior of fish. Researchers will also continue to work to develop improved methods of mapping shoreline change, particularly in response to storms.

Other new initiatives include developing short distance-learning courses to train hydrographers and a new undergraduate degree in ocean engineering with planned concentrations in hydrography and ocean mapping.

The dedicated support of New Hampshire U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-Madbury (a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee) greatly helped securing the federal funding necessary to make this grant possible. Sen. Shaheen is aware that rising sea levels will threaten coastal businesses and homes in the state and knows that it is important that UNH continue its research.

“The University of New Hampshire is a world leader in ocean-mapping and hydrography,” said Shaheen. “Our ocean floors remain the last largely unexplored area of the Earth’s surface, and this grant means the University of New Hampshire will be able to continue its ground-breaking research.”

A total award of $31 million over five years was granted, but subsequent years will depend on availability of funds.