Conduct Research with Ecological Marine Units

Let 3D analysis serve as a catalyst for future insights

A tenet of organizations such as the American Geophysical Union and the Research Data Alliance is that Earth and space science data be open and accessible. It is an integral responsibility of scientists and sponsoring institutions to foster scientific advances, enhance the public's well-being, and contribute to a more informed society. EMUs embody open, accessible data and serve as the basis for a variety of marine spatial research such as ocean conservation and resource management. Through comprehensive 3D analysis, EMUs offer scientists and conservationists better access to knowledge regarding the ecosystems they seek to protect. Readily available physical and chemical composition datasets assist monitoring ocean health and tracking climate change resilience throughout the water column. Use the EMU Explorer to visualize the ocean in 3D to yield valuable insights, such as the impacts of an MPA and whether its reconfiguration merits consideration.

EMUs Reinforce Your Research

Understand Where


Using the EMU Explorer web application, you can explore a plethora of marine environments, such as where mixing of fresh and saline waters occurs (e.g., the Baltic Sea and adjacent to large river mouths). Understanding where the variations and patterns in values exist is one of the most powerful types of spatial analyses.

Measure Size, Shape, and Distribution

Measure Size, Shape, and Distribution

Spatial analysis involves more than location, spatial characteristics of features and measurements are considered as well. Using the Minimum Bounding Volume tool in ArcGIS Pro, users can visualize concave or convex hulls of EMU points as a 3D volume in a local scene while also calculating the overall volume and surface area.

Determine How Places Are Related

Determine How Places Are Related

To answer spatial questions, not only is locational context required, but the understanding of the relationships between organisms and surrounding oceanographic processes as well. For example, a marine biologist with 3D animal trajectory data could use the Intersect 3D Line with Multipatch tool to determine if there is any habitat preference for a particular EMU.

Find the Best Locations

Find the Best

Finding the best locations that satisfy a set of criteria is a common type of spatial analysis. When fisheries identify a highly productive location for the aquaculture-based production of bivalve mollusks, managers can use the Similarity Search tool in ArcGIS Pro to discover other areas of the ocean with comparable characteristics.

Detect and Quantify Patterns

Detect and Quantify Patterns

Mathematical detection and quantification exceeds human interpretation of data. For instance, a marine geochemist could use the Cluster and Outlier Analysis tool to identify statistically significant hot spots, cold spots, and spatial outliers for any of the six EMU variables that may otherwise be unseen to the naked eye.

An Ocean of Open Data

Open your eyes to 50-year aggregates of NOAA’s World Ocean Atlas marine data available online and for download, free of charge, from over 52 million reference locations. Access information such as temperature, salinity, and nutrient content to teach how these indicators influence ecosystem response.

Access Open Data Online