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‘How deep will the water be?’

To date ENCs have done very little to help answer this question. Contours and spot depths indicate how far the seabed is below chart datum; tables allow the prediction of tidal height at some specific locations. The uncertainties involved in manually estimating water depth at a certain position and time are essentially unchanged from paper navigation. This may be considered an omission given the crucial significance of the question.

Chart data and tide tables between them are intended to represent a genuine physical environment. In principle this can be modelled and interpolations made by using the same sort of assumptions that a mariner would use.  Computer based calculations and interpolations are enormously faster than manual techniques and this opens the door to new methods of displaying and using the information. The resulting accuracy of the predictions can be tested against real world measurements.

We present some initial results from a study into techniques that support computer based 3D interpolation of bathymetric depths and the integration of time varying tidal heights from commercially available data. The aim of this study is to make better use of readily available information by presenting it in ways that can directly assist the mariner’s decision making process. In effect, this is extracting more useful information from the ENCs.