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Project Work Plan

U.S. Geological Survey, Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science (GE PES)

Fiscal Year 2006 Study Work Plan

Study Title: South Florida Landscape Dynamics (old title was Land Characteristics from Remote Sensing)
Study Start Date: 2006 Study End Date: 2009
Web Sites:
Location (Subregions, Counties, Park or Refuge): Total System, LNWR
Funding Source: USGS Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science (GE PES)
Other Complementary Funding Source(s):
Mendenhall Post-Doc (potential - dependent on selection for award)

Funding History: FY00; FY01; FY02; FY03; FY04; FY05; FY06
Principal Investigator(s): John W. Jones, Ph.D., Research Geographer, Eastern Geographic Science Center
Email Address:
Phone: 703/648-5543 Fax: 703/648-4603
Mail address: 521 National Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA 20192
Study Personnel:
John W. Jones, Ph.D., Research Geographer, Eastern Geographic Science Center
Susan Price, Cartographer, Eastern Geographic Science Center
Gail Winters, Information Specialist, Eastern Geographic Science Center

Supporting Organizations:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge (LNWR)

Associated / Linked Studies:
A GIS-Based Decision Framework for the Greater Everglades Ecosystem Restoration
Land Cover/Process Relationships
Everglades Depth Estimation Network (EDEN)
South Florida Information Access (SOFIA)
High Accuracy Elevation Data Collection
Spatial and temporal patterns and ecological effects of canal-water intrusion into the A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

Overview & Objective(s):
The primary goal of this study is to provide restoration-critical information regarding past and current characteristics of the Greater Everglades land surface (i.e., 'landscape dynamics') using remote sensing and geospatial analysis for improved landscape-scale modeling and restoration monitoring. The study develops innovative methods for geospatial data production and analysis of land surface characteristics like ground surface elevation and land cover over space and through time. The generated data provide baseline information necessary to begin monitoring the effects of restoration actions. Results of study landscape analyses facilitate more efficient and effective sampling strategies, improve field instrument placement/data collection campaigns, and increase our understanding of the relationships among surface features (e.g., vegetation and water) within the context of hydrologic, ecologic, and climatic processes.

The study has three over-riding objectives:

  1. Develop and apply innovative, widely applicable field data collection, remote sensing, and geographic analysis techniques to characterize spatial and temporal variations in land surface features and processes.
  2. Produce data and information that is useful for Everglades-focused science and restoration activities.
  3. Increase our understanding of the relationships among land surface spatial and temporal variations and hydrologic/ecologic processes.

Specific Relevance to Major Unanswered Questions and Information Needs Identified:
The work of this study addresses many of the major unanswered questions and key research needs identified in the DOI Science Plan (DOISP), the Restoration Coordination and Verification Program Monitoring and Assessment Plan (MAP), and the National Park Service Critical Ecosystem Studies Initiative (CESI) Program Announcement.

Tasks 1 through 3 contribute comprehensively to the development of landscape-scale modeling and monitoring outlined in the DOISP (i.e., projects to improve the quantity, quality, timing, and distribution of water and landscape-scale science needed to support multiple CERP activities) through (a) development of techniques and protocols for scaling of point-measured data collected in the field to moderate and regional extents through remote sensing and geographic analysis, (b) development of well-calibrated data that can be used to establish baselines, conduct historic analyses, and monitor regional scale biophysical processes and (c) the development of tools and information for vegetation, water, and habitat assessment and monitoring at regional scales over intra- and inter-annual timeframes.

Although Task activities are often technique-development oriented, they are conducted with an applications focus so that specific information needs of the MAP are met by each experiment.

This study supports the CESI restoration goal 1 (“Get the Water right”) by contributing to efforts to: improve linkages between and/or develop fully coupled hydrologic/hydro-dynamic/ecologic models, monitor the response of species sensitive to changes in hydrology, and develop parameters needed for the population of various models. It also includes the collection of field measurements in critical areas and the development of methods to estimate parameter values from commonly available information. It contributes directly to the CESI restoration goal 2 (“Restore, Preserve, and Protect Natural Habitats”) by generating information on spatial and temporal plant community cover and density in marl prairie, ridge and slough, and tree island habitats in the Northern Everglades and by conducting data analysis to stress the synergistic use of in-situ and remotely-sensed vegetation data.

Because study data collection and analyses are conducted at multiple scales (up to regional), this study specifically supports several projects listed in the DOI Science Plan. These include (a) investigating the ecological response to hydrologic change in the LNWR, (b) WCA 3 Decompartmentalization and sheetflow enhancement, (c) baseline studies and monitoring of plant community species composition, cover, and density in marl prairie and ridge and slough habitats in the southern Everglades, and (d) studying the links between hydrology and ecology. Data and change detection methods developed through this research are also expected to contribute to fire management and invasive species detection and monitoring needs of DOI land managers.

Previous PI GE PES research has established a sound foundation of data (e.g., 64 moderate-resolution satellite images providing intra- and inter-annual temporal coverage and other recent products listed below), hardware and software (e.g., handheld radiometer and remote sensing algorithms), methods (e.g., non-destructive leaf area index vegetation characterization protocol), skills (e.g., the development of additional project personnel capable of digital photogrammetric and geospatial analyses), and collaborative relationships (e.g., with researchers from the Biologic, Water Resources, and Geologic Disciplines of the USGS, Florida International University, and SFWMD) to enable substantial progress in the application of remote sensing and geospatial analysis to South Florida science and restoration needs. Pieces of database construction, algorithm development, and analysis for Tasks 1 through 3 listed below (e.g., research on precise satellite data calibration, elevation data accuracy assessment and ground elevation modeling, and vegetation/topography analysis) were already well underway in FY05. Products from these activities will enter the production and distribution stages in early FY06.

Recent Products:
-Fact sheet on South Florida Land Characterization.
-Big Cypress/Pine Island Satellite Image Map (completing the South Florida image map series).
-South Florida Multi-temporal and Multi-resolution Image Database
-Rocky Glades Pilot Study Region High Resolution (0.16m) Color Infrared Orthophotos.
-Very-high resolution (i.e., 0.10 and 0.05m spatial resolution) digital orthophotoquads of the Rocky Glade solution hole pilot study region.
-Report on fusion of LIDAR and high resolution orthophotography to identify, map, and characterize Rocky Glades solution hole biological refuges (in review).
-Map of solution holes for pilot study areas of the Rocky Glades Region.
-EDEN grid GIS conceptual design, grid geometry data, and grid attribute data.
-Software and procedures to allow automated revision and compilation of the height finder high accuracy elevation database.

Planned Products:
-Geographic Analysis and Monitoring Program Status and Trends Professional Paper (a collection of multi-disciplinary papers on land cover analysis for Everglades restoration).
-Report on satellite data calibration and atmospheric correction algorithm comparison.
-Value-added, conflation of all height finder high accuracy elevation data, attribute data, and metadata as a single, region-wide database file.
-Change detection algorithms for Everglades land change monitoring.
-Publications on research examining linkages among land cover change, water flow, and water quality.
-A workshop on the utility of remote sensing for restoration planning and monitoring.


Title of Task 1: Construction of well-calibrated, high quality multi-resolution and multi-temporal databases for landscape-scale modeling and targeted CERP-MAP work activities.
Task Funding: USGS Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science (GE PES)
Task Leaders: John W. Jones
Phone: 703-648-5543
FAX: 703-648-4603
Task Status (proposed or active): active
Task priority: High
Task Personnel: John W. Jones, Gail Winters
Task Summary and Objectives:
This task is focused on the development and testing of methods for multi-temporal satellite data radiometric calibration and atmospheric correction to provide for most accurate and consistent land cover change analysis, biophysical remote sensing, and CERP monitoring. The objective is to build a remote sensed database that is:

  1. Well-calibrated (converted to physical values with some mitigation of atmospheric effects)
  2. Multi-scale (temporally: from event based to frequent; spatially: from point-based to regional)
  3. Multi-spectral (panchromatic, hyperspectral, RADAR, LIDAR, etc.)
  4. Extensively documented (metadata traces all processing actions).

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures:
Three different calibration and atmospheric correction algorithms will be implemented and rigorously evaluated for their efficiency and effectiveness in producing consistent, regional temporal series of satellite data for Everglades research and monitoring. This evaluation will be completed using the rich, previously assembled data base of Landsat TM, Landsat MSS, SPOT XS, and AVHRR data augmented with new acquisitions of MODIS, ASTER, Hyperion, and other satellite/airborne data. This year we will use the LNWR as a focus area for satellite data calibration and correction accuracy assessment. The LNWR area includes numerous structures that afford assessment of geometric corrections applied to the satellite data. Additionally, the LNWR region includes several relatively spectrally invariant land surfaces for calibration and testing of atmospheric correction approaches. However, because coverage by these sensor systems is regional and the ultimate use of these data is land surface change monitoring, LNWR-focused research also directly supports most restoration projects south of Lake Okeechobee.

Specific Task Product(s): [List and include expected delivery date(s).]
-An expanded, multi-temporal, calibrated, and well-documented satellite image database (May 2006).
- An open file report regarding the satellite data base and associated atmospheric correction approaches (June 2006).
- A peer-reviewed publication regarding atmospheric correction evaluation (October 2006).

Title of Task 2: Change detection technique development using Loxahatchee information needs
Task Funding: USGS Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science (GE PES), USGS Geographic Analysis and Monitoring Program
Task Leaders: John W. Jones
Phone: 703-648-5543
FAX: 703-648-4603
Task Status (proposed or active): active
Task priority: High
Task Personnel: John W. Jones
Task Summary and Objectives:
This task builds on the information produced through Task 1. The objective of this task is to determine the spectral, spatial, and temporal threshold(s) of land surface change that can be detected using low, moderate, and high resolution remotely sensed imagery.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures:
Exploratory and structured experiments will be conducted to determine the amounts of change in LNWR land surfaces that can be experimentally and operationally detected. Change detection techniques (e.g., image differencing and multi-temporal principle components analysis) will be applied to the calibrated satellite image library developed in Task 1 to determine the types of changes that can be detected and the timescale(s) over which changes occur. Rather than prescribe the changes being targeted, the PI will look for changes in the imagery and then label those changes based on ancillary information. This is an empirical process in which the thresholds of change that are identifiable in the imagery will be determined and then compared against features documented by previous field surveys, high-resolution aerial photography, and current project field-work. Some tonal changes may be easy to identify (e.g., vegetation to open water or the opposite). Others, such as sawgrass to cattail or brush to sawgrass for example, will be more difficult to discern. Once the PI has determined what changes can be reliably detected and identified using our techniques and available imagery, additional funding will be pursued for multi-decade, comprehensive LNWR change identification.

Specific Task Product(s): [List and include expected delivery date(s).]
-Open File Report on change detection method development and testing (September 2006)
-Maps of LNWR land surfaces changes (September 2006)

Title of Task 3: EDEN Grid and Everglades elevation model development
Task Funding: USGS Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science (GE PES)
Task Leaders: John W. Jones
Phone: 703-648-5543
FAX: 703-648-4603
Task Status (proposed or active): active
Task priority: High
Task Personnel: John W. Jones, Susan Price, Robert Glover, Gail Winters
Task Summary and Objectives:
This task provides the ground elevation data QA/QC and advanced digital elevation modeling required by the Everglades Depth Estimation Network (EDEN) and associated ecological monitoring activities. Task objectives include the development of high quality, region-wide elevation data bases, characterization of LIDAR and surveyor collected elevation data quality, and intelligent modeling of Everglades ground elevations given a variety of input data types and sources.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures:
Three primary activities are envisioned for this task.

  1. Development of the EDEN grid with multiple thematic attributes (e.g., elevation, elevation estimation confidence/quality, vegetation composition, etc.).
  2. QA/QC and conflation of Airborne Height Finder, ground (professionally) surveyed, and LIDAR data.
  3. Development of enhanced digital elevation models for the Greater Everglades Region.

Specific Task Product(s): [List and include expected delivery date(s).]
-Conceptual design and geometry for the EDEN GRID in 3 GIS formats (October 2005)
-A reassessment of WCA3 LIDAR data quality given recently collected Airborne Height Finder and elevation transect data collection (December 2005)
-A single data file containing all currently available High Accuracy Elevation Data (December 2005)
-EDEN GRID Fact Sheet (January 2006)
-Version 1 of enhanced ground elevation model for the Greater Everglades Region (March 2006)
-Open File regarding elevation modeling and assignment to EDEN grid cells (June 2006)
-Enhanced ground surface modeling peer reviewed journal paper (October 2006)
-Version 2 of enhanced ground surface model for the Greater Everglades Region (November 2008)

Title of Task 4: Workshop on the utility of Remote Sensing for Monitoring and Assessment
Task Funding: USGS Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science (GE PES)
Task Leaders: John W. Jones
Phone: 703-648-5543
FAX: 703-648-4603
Task Status (proposed or active): proposed
Task priority: Medium
Task Personnel: John W. Jones
Task Summary and Objectives:
CERP/MAP partners have been discussing the development of workshops that discuss and/or demonstrate the utility of remote sensing for monitoring and assessment. The USGS experience and expertise can contribute significantly to the success of these workshops. That is the goal of this task.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures:
Using the GE PES Coordinator and other researchers as initial contacts, the task PI will work with identified points of contacts within CERP/MAP partner agencies to develop and deliver at least one workshop.

Specific Task Product(s): [List and include expected delivery date(s).]
A workshop, expected delivery date TBD as it is dependent on partnership interaction.

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