Portraying the seafloor topography is of great importance for many applications in geosciences, physical sciences and life sciences. Applications imply studies of geological seabed processes, ocean modeling, benthic habitat mapping and interactions of the solid earth with water, ice and air. But bathymetric mapping remains incomplete in the Arctic and Southern Oceans. To improve the knowledge about the seafloor topography two international initiatives are collecting and assembling bathymetric data for the production of bathymetric charts in polar regions. The International Bathymetric Chart of the Arctic Ocean (IBCAO) started in 1997. The first version was published in 2001; an updated second version is currently in press. The International Bathymetric Chart of the Southern Ocean (IBCSO) started late 2006; a first map is in progress and scheduled spring 2009. IBCAO and IBCSO are the first International Bathymetric Charts of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission implemented in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Based on regular grids with depth values, digital terrain models can be manipulated in a variety of computational processes. Additionally, consequent use of digital data speeds up data exchange, data modeling and publication of results, comprising cartographic charts and digital maps. Important byproducts are consistent bathymetric databases, related metainformation, and efficient working groups.