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Project Work Plan

U.S. Geological Survey Greater Everglades Science Initiative (Place-Based Studies)

Fiscal Year 2004 Project Work Plan


Project Title: High Accuracy Elevation Data Collection Project
Project start date: November, 1995 Project end date: To be determined
Funding Source: USGS Place-Based Studies Initiative (PBS), ENP CESI
Principal Investigator: Greg Desmond
Email address:
Phone: 703/648-4728 Fax: 703/648-4165
Mail address: USGS, MSM 521 National Center, 12201 Sunrise Valley Dr., Reston, VA 20192

Other Investigator(s): Vince Caruso, Ed Cyran, Gary Freeman, Bob Glover, Chuck Henkle, Gordon Shupe

Project Summary: This project is performing regional topographic surveys to collect and provide elevation data to parameterize hydrologic and ecological numerical simulation models that are being developed for ecosystem restoration activities. Surveying services are also being rendered to provide vertical reference points for numerous water level gauges.

Project Objectives and Strategy: Modeling of sheet flow and water surface levels in the Florida Everglades is very sensitive to changes in elevation due to its expansive and extremely low relief terrain. This project is applying state-of-the-art Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to perform topographic surveys that meets a vertical accuracy specification of ± 15 centimeters (6 inches). The objective is to complete a wide-area regional topographic survey that will provide elevation data to parameterize hydrologic and ecological models of the Greater Everglades.

Potential Impacts and Major Products: The project supports the ecosystem restoration and resource management efforts by providing critical data for the parameterization of numerical hydrologic and ecological models. Water resources and land management decisions will rely heavily on the results of these simulation models. It is imperative to derive and use the most accurate elevation data available for the models to produce meaningful results. The primary products being developed by this project are digital elevation models (DEM's) that define the topography of the Everglades. The DEM's are organized by USGS quadrangles and are posted on the South Florida Information Access website ( once approved for release. Another major accomplishment has been the surveying of USGS and NPS water level gages distributed throughout Everglades National Park (ENP). A database, or "gage gazetteer", of the gage sites has been produced. The gazetteer contains a table of gage sites whereby the user clicks on a name and a data sheet is displayed containing the 3-D position of the reference mark and a photograph of the gage.

Collaborators: U.S. Army Topographic Engineering Center, National Geodetic Survey

Clients: Everglades National Park, South Florida Water Management District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Water Resources Discipline, and Biological Resources Discipline.


Title of Task 1: Topographic Surveying Using the Airborne Height Finder and GPS Technology.
Task Funding: USGS GEER PBS Initiative, ENP CESI (potentially), CERP (potentially)
Task Leaders: Greg Desmond
Task Status (proposed or active):
Task priority: High
Task Personnel: Vince Caruso, Ed Cyran, Gary Freeman, Bob Glover, Chuck Henkle, Gordon Shupe

Task Summary and Objectives: The topographic surveying team utilizes the USGS developed Airborne Height Finder (AHF) to produce very accurate digital elevation models for use in ecosystem restoration simulation models.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures:
The primary goal of this project in FY04 will be to complete the topographic surveys within the TIME model domain. To do so, surveys are planned for the Whitewater Bay East and Flamingo quadrangles. Static GPS surveys are also planned for the purposes of extending the AHF geodetic control network. Static surveys will also be conducted to establish accurate vertical reference mark for many water level gauges located within the TIME model area. After the work is completed for TIME and ENP, surveying of the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge (LNWR) will commence. The remaining areas requiring new elevation data after LNWR is completed include Water Conservation Area-2 (WCA-2), fringing wetlands of Biscayne Bay, and Big Cypress National Preserve. Tree islands and some data gap "holidays" within WCA-3 that were not accessible by airboat survey operations still require surveying. Data accuracy assessment and documentation issues will also be addressed via an interagency committee. An Open File Report that documents project activities and accomplishments also needs to be published. Lastly, the project needs to be restructured to address funding and personnel issues.

Planned Outreach: The new project fact sheet has been published and has been very useful for outreach purposes. It will continue to be used to disseminate descriptive information on the project. Additional data and information will be posted on the SOFIA web site as it becomes available.


Although the project has become quite focused in terms of its objectives, the data and information produced from this project supports the USGS Everglades Restoration Science Plan in a very broad and basic manor. These data represent core information that is used by Federal, State, and academic institutions to parameterize existing and developing hydrologic and ecological numerical simulation models. USGS GEER projects that benefit from the output of this project include TIME, SICS, ATLSS, Vegetative Resistance to Flow, Fresh Water Flows into Florida Bay, and Water Flows and Nutrient Loads to the SW Coast. This project is critical to the Plan's Restoration Goal 1- "Get the Water Right".

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Last updated: 04 September, 2013 @ 02:08 PM(KP)