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What is hydrography?

Hydrographers measure and describe bodies of water.

image of a hydrographer studies data collected by multibeam sonar to generate a 3-D image of the Kachemak Bay floor.

A hydrographer studies data collected by multibeam sonar to generate a 3-D image of the Kachemak Bay floor.

Hydrography is the science that measures and describes the physical features of bodies of water and the land areas adjacent to those bodies of water.

NOAA conducts hydrographic surveys to measure the depth and bottom configuration of water bodies. The data is used to update nautical charts and develop hydrographic models; increasingly, it is used for multiple purposes, through the Integrated Ocean and Coast Mapping program.

The one data type common to all hydrographic surveys is water depth. Of additional concern to many surveys is the nature of the seafloor material (i.e., sand, mud, rock) due to implications for anchoring, dredging, structure construction, pipeline and cable routing, and fisheries habitat.