What Does Hydrography Mean?

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What is Hydrography and why is Hydrography important? What does Hydrography study? Information on Hydrography surveys.

HydrographyHydrography; is the investigation and charting of oceans, rivers, and other bodies of water. Since the word means “description of water,” hydrography might be taken to include matters of interest to workers in the fields of geography, oceanography, hydrology, and limnology. In practice, however, the task of hydrographers and of hydrographic offlces is to survey, chart, and describe the aspects of the marine environment that are of concern to navigators. Shoals, channels, coastlines, aids to navigation, landmarks, tides, currents, and topographic features of the ocean floor are charted by hydrographers.

Hydrographic Surveys. The basic publications of a hydrographic office are its nautical charts. Most of the efforts of hydrographers, therefore, are directed to the making of hydrographic surveys at sea and to the compilation of charts in the office from these surveys and from other sources. In the course of their activities hydrographers contribute information that is essential to the revision of other publications; among such publications are the sailing directions that are issued by the hydrographic office for marine navigators.

The task of charting the world’s coast and oceans is so great that any one nation can survey, each year, only a very small portion of even those areas most traversed by its merchant and naval ships. Moreover, the changes that storms and the works of man cause in coastal features and nearshore shoal areas, together with the changing requirements of deeper-draft ships and navigational innovations, frequently make it necessary to resurvey areas. Despite technological advances in surveying and charting, the rate of increase in hydrographic information’obtained by individual nations is so slow that an organized international exchange of information is needed, as soon became apparent to early hydrographers in the 19th century.

International Hydrographic Bureau. The organization created to promote this exchange of information is the International Hydrographic Bureau (IHB). The IHB was founded in 1921 as the result of the First International Hydrographic Conference held in London in 1919. The bureau is located in Monte Carlo, Monaco. its three directors and its secretary general are elected at international hydrographic conferences held every five years. They are assisted by a permanent staff of technical experts and clerical aides.

The bureau is well equipped to serve its 42 member nations and the interests of hydrography in general. It provides a focal point for the exchange of information but also functions as a forum for the improvement and standardization of nautical charts and hydrographic publications. The adoption of IHB resolutions and their publication have done much to achieve widespread international standardization of the critical elements of nautical chart symbolization. Two major benefits have resulted from the standardization: (1) any navigator using a foreign chart to enter waters not covered by charts published by his own nation has a better chance of comprehending the all-important symbolization, if not the language, denoting charted aids and dangers to navigation; (2) it has become less and less difficult for a given hydrographic office to utilize the charts of other nations for the construction of charts of its own Standard series.

Through its resolutions and its periodical and special publications, the IHB effectively advances the welfare of the maritime world, whose shipping relies on dependable hydrographic information for the safety of life and of property at sea.

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