There are concerns that the global distribution of kelp is dwindling due to climate change, pollution, or over grazing. However, incomplete records of kelp distribution and density make it hard to evaluate the actual kelp loss.
University of Victoria geography Prof. Maycira Costa was introduced to a collection of historical British nautical charts. Dr. Costa quickly realized that kelp distribution was noted on some of these charts.
Using those British admiralty charts from 1858 to 1956, Costa and her research team have now created the first historical digital map of B.C.'s coastal kelp forests. Now they will be able to compare the historical maps with the satellite images from 2002 until 2017 to better understand how much kelp has been lost.