United Nations
Ecological Marine Units Map, Apps, and Data
by Esri and USGS (Private sector)
The strength of EMUs is that they differ from existing maps of marine ecoregions or biogeographic realms by being globally comprehensive, quantitatively data driven, and truly 3D. Rigorous statistical clustering produced 37 physically and chemically distinct volumetric regions where the chemical properties most likely to drive ecosystem responses are readily available to all interested MPAs, conservation-minded organizations, academic institutions, or citizen scientists. With these insights in hand, individuals can gauge indicators of positive or negative trends and use data to make informed decisions that preserve marine environments.

Applications like the EMU Explorer serves as a powerful tool for laboratory exercises. When teaching the impact of agricultural fertilizer runoff and corresponding “dead zones,” explain the relationship between fertilizer runoff, algal blooms, oxygen consuming bacteria, and marine life. Use the app to examine dissolved oxygen levels in the water columns of the Gulf of Mexico. Then have students explore several locations closer to the mouth of the Mississippi to determine if they can notice any change. Students will learn firsthand that the bacteria decomposing the algae leave insufficient oxygen for fish, shrimp, and other marine life to survive, causing them to flee or die.
Progress reports
June 2017
Free and open data, apps, and maps
In-kind contribution
EMU Explorer web apps for visualizing the ocean in 2D and 3D to yield valuable insights, ArcGIS Pro map packages, ArcGIS Online/Living Atlas of World open data downloads including 50-year aggregates of NOAA’s World Ocean Atlas marine data available online
Basic information
Time-frame: 2017 March - Indefinite
USGS, NOAA, NASA, NatureServe, Marine Conservation Institute, Group on Earth Observations, Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab, NIWA Taihoro Nukurangi, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, GRID Arendal, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, The University of Auckland.
Ocean Basins
  • Global
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
Contact information
Dawn Wright , Chief Scientist, DWRIGHT@ESRI.COM,
Redlands, California
Other SDGs
United Nations