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Project Work Plan

Greater Everglades Science Program: Place-Based Studies

Project Work Plan FY 2003


Project Title: Land Characteristics from Remote Sensing
Project start date:October 1, 2002 Project end date: September 30, 2005
Project Funding: USGS Place-Based Studies
Principal Investigator: John Jones
Email address:
Phone: 703-648-5543 Fax: 703-648-4165
Mail address: 521 National Center, Reston VA 20192

Other Investigator(s): Jean-Claude Thomas and Dan Sechrist
Email address: &
Phone: 703-648-6076 & 703-648-4808 Fax: 703-648-4165
Mail address: 521 National Center, Reston VA 20192

Project Summary:

To accurately simulate hydrology and other surface processes in South Florida, description and measurement of land surface characteristics, to include their variation through space and time is necessary. This description and measurement will contribute to our understanding of the role vegetation and other surface features play in removal of surface water, resistance to surface water flow, water quality, habitat condition, and habitat functioning. Fieldwork for this effort has included the collection of high-resolution reflectance spectra for a great number of vegetation and land surfaces. Also, vegetation biomass and other structural characteristics have been sampled at intensive field study sites. These data have been analyzed to determine their shortcomings and strengths for remote sensing and other spatially distributed analyses. Based on the results of these analyses, new methods of ground data collection appropriate for the necessary spatial and temporal extrapolations have been devised. In the coming project years, these new data collection protocols and extrapolation methods, along with those for other data such as water level, and elevation will be used to test the efficacy of data fields and vegetation maps derived from remotely sensed data for CERP modeling and monitoring requirements. They will be used to generate baseline information and suggest longer-term strategies and monitoring techniques for CERP impact evaluation.

Project Objectives and Strategy:

The objective of this research is to develop and apply innovative remote sensing and geographic information system techniques to map the distribution of South Florida land surface characteristics and related hydrologic variables such as evapotranspiration through space and over time. As a general strategy, collaborative efforts with specialists in various aspects of the Everglades are combined with our knowledge of remote sensing, our development of statistical and geographic analysis techniques, and data from numerous airborne and satellite imaging systems to yield new data and knowledge of Everglades characteristics and processes. We then evaluate the utility of these techniques and data for CERP science and monitoring activities.

Potential Impacts and Major Products:

The project supports the restoration and resource management efforts by providing critical information for field sampling design, hydrologic and ecological model parameterization, and land surface change monitoring. For example, georeferenced and interpreted imagery has already been used to site additional point sampling stations for meteorological and vegetation data collection. Project spatial analysis of derived vegetation and topographic variables is addressing issues of scale important in aggregation for hydrodynamic modeling. A vegetation map of the Southern Inland Coastal System (SICS) model study area has also developed for the application of spatially distributed fields of vegetation flow resistance. A similar map has been produced for the Tides and Inflows to Mangroves of the Everglardes (TIME) study area. Water resources and land management decisions will rely heavily on the output of these simulation models that have already been improved by research project outputs. Project data have been pre-processed to facilitate data fusion and analysis. Data from several different remote-sensing systems and in-situ data collections have been manipulated to produce 3 satellite image maps for regions in South Florida. Several thousand copies of each have been printed for distribution through the USGS and distributed electronically through the SOFIA website. Client feedback indicates that these image maps have been valuable, well-exercised tools for outreach and research planning. A large portion of the funds requested for this year are aimed at refining the products of previous project research to further improve our ability to monitor and model Everglades land surface changes. Other funds are requested to support new collaborative research to map other South Florida land surface features such as solution holes and periphyton mats.

Collaborators: Harry Jenter, Ray Schaffrenek, Chris Langevin, Clintin Hittle, Edward German, Nancy Rybicki (USGS), Ken Rutchey (SFWMD), and C. Wayne Wright (NASA)

Clients: The CERP, SFWMD, NPS, USCE, other USGS scientists


Title of Task 1: Satellite Image Mapping (Big Cypress area)
Task Leaders: John Jones/Jean-Claude Thomas
Task Funding: USGS PBS
Phone: 703-648-5543
Fax: 703-648-4175
Task Status (proposed or active): proposed
Task priority: High Priority
Task Personnel: John Jones, Jean-Claude Thomas, George Delinski, and Al Warren
Task Summary and Objectives: This task will produce 1:100K satellite image map of Big Cyrpress area that will abut the two previous satellite image maps created through this project (i.e., The Southern Everglades and Northern Everglades image maps).

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures:
The image fusion and other cartographic procedures developed through this research project will be applied using additional data acquired for the region of the Big Cypress preserve. Procedures that produce tonal and resolution qualities that match those of previous image maps will be used so that one mosaic can be made of all the data for the region of South Florida below Lake Okeechobee. The image maps previously created have been widely used as an outreach and planning tool. The development of the map for the Big Cypress region is a logical conclusion to pre-restoration image map production. The requirement to match previous satellite image map characteristics makes the near-term execution of this task critical.

Planned Outreach:

The previously developed image maps have been printed in quantity and distributed to appropriate researchers and decision-makers in South Florida. These printed maps continue to be available through USGS map and publication distribution channels. Digital versions of the reviewed/published maps have also been made available free of charge through the SOFIA website. The image mapping process has been detailed through conference and workshop poster and paper presentations in South Florida. All these outreach mechanisms as well as a conference presentation outside the South Florida domain will be used to promote this product, its uses, and the procedures used to create it.

Title of Task 2: Vegetation Characterization for hydrological and ecological modeling
Task Funding: USGS PBS
Task Leaders:John Jones
Phone: 703-648-5543
Fax: 703-648-4165
Task Status (proposed or active): active
Task priority: High
Task Personnel: John Jones, Dan Sechrist, (Harry Jenter, Nancy Rybicki, Chris Langevin, Raymond Schaffrenek, and Ed German collaborating).

Task Summary and Objectives: Given low topographic gradients and subtle topographic variations in South Florida, vegetation affects the distribution and fate of surface water. Means of parameterizing hydrologic models to account for this influence have not been established. While point-measured flow resistance has been linked to vegetation characteristics measured at the same points, methods of spatially extrapolating and populating hydrodynamic models with flow resistance values has not been completed. The objective of this project is to correlate vegetation characteristics that can be measured using remote sensing with characteristics that have been shown to influence flow resistance and use spatial analysis techniques to generate spatially distributed fields of vegetation flow resistance for use in hydrodynamic models of the TIME model domain.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures:
1) Link high-resolution remote sensed indices of vegetation characteristics with point-based measurements of vegetation characteristics. This will be accomplished using previously collected vegetation and remotely sensed data using multiple regression techniques.

2) Develop relationships between high-resolution remotely sensed vegetation indices and satellite-based (coarser resolution) vegetation indices.

3) Use spatial analysis to extrapolate vegetation index models throughout the TIME model domain using multi-date satellite imagery.

4) Populate hydrodynamic models with spatially distributed, multidate flow resistance indices based on the extrapolated vegetation parameters.

5) Evaluate model performance with and without fields of vegetation flow resistance.


Planned Outreach: Schedule meetings and other interaction with USGS, NPS, USCE, SFWMD, and University researchers will be used to develop and evaluate flow resistance fields. Results will be presented at symposia, produced as open file reports, and submitted for publication in referred journals. SOFIA will also be used to distribute research results.

Title of Task 3: Evapotranspiration (ET) extrapolation
Task Leaders: John Jones, Ed German
Task Funding: USGS PBS via GAM
Phone: 703-648-5543
Fax: 703-648-4175
Task Status (proposed or active): active
Task priority: High
Task Personnel: John Jones (Ed German and David Sumner collaborating).

Task Summary and Objectives:

Similar to Task 2, while land cover characteristics such as vegetation density are suspected as important influences on the fate and movement of water, methods of accounting for land cover variations on rates and amounts of evapotranspiration (ET) have not yet been developed for South Florida. This research will use a combination of field and remotely sensed data to develop models of ET that more accurately reflect the spatial and temporal distribution of evaporative water loss in South Florida.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures:
Work this year will build upon previous efforts by Jones to spatially extrapolate ET values measured at point locations through Edward German's ET project. Research on data calibration and atmospheric correction has been undertaken for this task and a set of calibrated/atmospherically corrected satellite data has been generated. Jones and Sechrist will expand this data set so that more rigorous models can be developed and evaluated. While modeling efforts will focus on key subareas within the Everglades, data for locations in the Florida ET Network (Sumner) will also be leveraged for model development. In conjunction with Task 2 activities, we will use ground-based measurements of vegetation density and biomass as calibration and validation data for remotely sensed estimates of vegetation characteristics that likely influence ET. Evapotranspiration maps (in GIS and hardcopy formats) will be produced for use in indexing ET in South Florida hydrologic models. Results will be evaluated on the basis of technical review, assessment using withheld ground data, and output impacts on hydrologic model performance.

Planned Outreach:

Interaction with targeted USGS, NPS, USCE, SFWMD, and University researchers will be used to develop and evaluate ET fields. Results will be presented at symposia, produced as open file reports, and submitted for publication in referred journals. SOFIA will also be used to distribute research results. Results of previous analysis against this task have also been shared through outreach efforts of personnel from the USGS/WRD National Research Program as they provide USGS internal and professional external workshops and paper presentations. We expect these collaborative outreach activities to continue.

Title of Task 4: Special Mapping Pilot Studies
Task Leaders: John Jones, Bill Loftus
Task Funding: USGS - PBS
Phone: 703-648-5543
Fax: 703-648-4175
Task Status (proposed or active): active
Task priority: High
Task Personnel: John Jones (USGS), Bill Loftus (USGS), Clinton Hittle (USGS), (Sue Perry (NPS), as well as FIU and SFWMD collaborators pending results of current discussions).

Task Summary and Objectives:

Throughout the year, requests and opportunities arise for pilot studies to investigate the use of novel remote sensing and geospatial analysis techniques to gather information of importance to CERP objectives, water quality and flow modeling, ecological modeling, and even as an aid to other remote sensing efforts. Pursuit of such research opportunities directly addresses the primary objective of this research. Task 4 incorporates two specific pilot mapping activities currently planned for FY03 and FY04. The first is focused on the characterization of solution holes in the Rocky Glades. Solution holes in the that region may constitute critical refugia and other habitat. Little is known about their spatial distribution or structural characteristics. It is also not clear how water resource manipulation will impact the function of these holes. The objective of this subtask is to investigate the potential of remote sensing techniques for solution hole survey, characterization, and monitoring.

A second subtask is focused on periphytoon detection and mapping. Periphyton affects water flow, mercury methelation, and the reflectance recorded by remotely sensed imagery. Previous research has demonstrated that periphyton mapping may be possible using hyperspectral imaging techniques that are currently used operationally. The minimum objective of this pilot study is to determine whether the presence or absence of periphyton can be estimated through the use of operational remote sensing systems. A "perihyton index" is the goal. Our ability to conduct more sophisticated periphyton mapping research will be dependent on available data and collaborator resources. If appropriate ground and remote sensing data are available, this work may be extended to included periphyton composition mapping.

We expect the activities of the "Special Mapping Pilots" task to lead to additional research requirements and sources of funding in FY04 and beyond. Therefore, greater resources are directed to this task in FY04.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures:
This year, airborne imagery will be collected and analyzed for its efficacy in mapping the location and surface characteristics of solution holes. Airborne aerial photography will be evaluated through visual interpretation and compared against validation data collected in the field. In addition, funds provided by the Biological Resources Discipline (through competitive award) will be used to acquire bathymetric LIDAR data for examination in FY04.

For periphyton mapping, a field sheet will be developed that can easily be used to record general periphyton characteristics while in the field for other field work. These sheets will be distributed to a variety of field personnel and used to gather whatever data possible on the location and attributes of periphyton. High-spectral resolution reflectance data previously collected in the field will be supplemented with additional data this year. These will be analyzed to produce potential satellite image mapping algorithms for periphyton detection. These algorithms will be applied to satellite data collected at or near the timeframe of field periphyton data collection. Therefore, algorithm evaluation can be accomplished using the field-collected data (and other expert knowledge of the region) as the validation data set.

Planned Outreach:

There is particular interest in this capability on the part of SFWMD and USGS mercury cycling researchers. Results will be provided directly to them through reports and GIS database files. Results will also be presented at symposia, produced as open file reports, and submitted for publication in referred journals. SOFIA will also be used to distribute research results.

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