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Hydrographic Survey: Mapping the World’s Oceans in the 21st Century


Boat at sea

GeoTalks Webinar Series: April 21, 2021 – Burns Foster

GeoTalks is a biweekly virtual seminar series organized by Geomatics Engineering at York University and the Canadian Institute of Geomatics – Toronto Branch. The series features industry leaders and entrepreneurs in geomatics as it explores geospatial science and engineering. 


On April 21, 2021, we welcomed Burns Foster at our GeoTalks webinar to discuss the expansive field of hydrographic surveying.

Measuring bodies of water and their contents is important to ensure navigational safety and also has applications in fisheries management, climate change modelling and tsunami modelling.

However, much of the Earth’s oceans remain unmapped because water reduces the effects of electromagnetic radiation, which is used in photography, radar and lidar.

Foster explores the technologies used to fill this gap – satellite altimetry and multibeam sonar. He gives students interested in hydrography a glimpse of life at sea on a sonar vessel and explains how data is turned into a map.

He also breaks down the some of the challenges involved in mapping the ocean. As Foster observes, there are some researchers who build their entire career on measuring tides alone.

Foster predicts that improvements in sensor quality, emerging artificial intelligence tools, cloud technologies and, chiefly, a global internet are going to create big waves for hydrography.

About Burns Foster

Burns Foster is the Innovation Manager for Teledyne Geospatial. His primary responsibility involves developing new products and services outside of Geospatial’s core competencies, with a focus on novel applications of machine learning technologies across the entire Geospatial domain.

He previously spent five years as the product manager for HIPS and SIPS, Teledyne CARIS’ flagship processing software suite.

Watch Foster’s GeoTalks Webinar to learn more.