U.S. Naval Officer Matthew Fontaine Maury developed wind and current charts starting in the 1840's. They helped save shipping companies millions of dollars and avoid losses of life and cargo by giving sailors critical information about wind and current patterns.
|Wind & Current Chart of the North Atlantic-via American Geographical Society Library|
|Detail off the coast of Tampico, Mexico|
|via Yale University Library|
Maury went on to map the Pacific and Indian Oceans, monsoon patterns, ranges of the sperm whale and discovered an undersea plateau that could be used for laying the first transatlantic cable. More on his life can be seen in this PBS American Experience article.