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Project Work Plan

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

Fiscal Year 2007 Study Work Plan

Study Title: South Florida Landscape Dynamics
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):
Land Remote Sensing Program

Funding History: 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 Dynamics/Environmental Processes
Everglades Depth Estimation Network (EDEN)
South Florida Information Access (SOFIA)
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 and simulating 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 and elevation 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.

FY06 research on the development of a digital elevation model (DEM), GIS database structures, and effective ways of visualizing and distributing high accuracy elevation data for the Everglades Depth Estimation Network (EDEN) proved more challenging than originally anticipated. However, a unified region-wide high accuracy elevation data product, visualization tools, and a DEM have been created. The developed DEM production methods minimize cross-validation errors and yield maps of standard errors of elevation that are useful in qualifying EDEN water depth modeling outputs. These data are now operationally employed in EDEN. Also, FY06 Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) research provided refined, high-resolution data sets for select areas of the Everglades. Together these FY06 products and results provide the necessary foundation for comprehensive analyses of vegetation and topography (ecohydrology) that will take place this year. FY07 research will evaluate the efficacy of using high-resolution information on land cover in conjunction with low resolution topographic information to create synthetic, high-resolution DEMs. This focus will be followed by renewed investigation of landscape-scale land cover monitoring using remote sensing using the LNWR and Water Conservation Area 3 as pilot study areas. In this way, on-going multi-disciplinary research efforts can be leveraged and both scientific and current adaptive management issues can be simultaneously addressed. Collaborators from the USFWS and SFWMD will be active participants in these analyses.

Recent Products:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Value-added, conflation of all height finder high accuracy elevation data, attribute data, and metadata as a single, region-wide database file.
  • An Open File Report on EDEN digital elevation model research and development.
  • Versions 1 and 2 of enhanced ground elevation models for the Greater Everglades Region
  • Open File regarding elevation modeling and assignment to EDEN grid cells
  • An electronic atlas of the High Accuracy Elevation Model database
  • Journal article on the fusion of LIDAR and high-resolution orthophotography to identify, map, and characterize Rocky Glades solution holes (currently under-going USGS review before journal submission).

Planned Products:

  • Version 3 of an EDEN digital elevation model.
  • Report or journal article on the fusion of remote sensed vegetation and topographic information for digital elevation model synthesis.
  • Report on satellite data calibration and atmospheric correction algorithm comparison.
  • Change detection algorithms for Everglades land change monitoring.
  • Report or paper on change detection algorithms for Everglades land change monitoring.


Title of Task 1: High-spatial resolution EDEN elevation model development
Task Funding: USGS Priority Ecosystems Science
Task Leaders: John W. Jones
Phone: 703-648-5543
FAX: 703-648-4603
Task Status (proposed or active): active
Task priority: High
Time Frame for Task 1: October 2006 - December 2006
Task Personnel: John W. Jones, Susan Price
Task Summary and Objectives:
This task provides the advanced digital elevation modeling required by the Everglades Depth Estimation Network (EDEN) and associated ecological monitoring activities. Previous research produced digital elevation model (DEM) products used in EDEN water depth modeling algorithm and EDENapps prototyping activities.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures:
This task's sole objective is the examination of potential relationships among vegetation cover and microtopography that may be exploited along with remote sensed data to generate a higher-resolution digital elevation model than is currently possible with available topographic data.

Specific Task Product(s): [List and include expected delivery date(s).]

  • A report on the efficacy of using vegetation data and HAED to create high-resolution DEM data in the Everglades environment (November 2006)
  • A revised, high-resolution digital elevation model for all regions where high-quality vegetation data are available is created for operational use in EDEN (December 2006)
  • Journal article on the exploitation of ecohydrologic relationships to synthesize high-resolution elevation data in the Everglades environment submitted to external review (December 2006)

Title of Task 2: 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 Priority Ecosystems Science
Task Leaders: John W. Jones
Phone: 703-648-5543
FAX: 703-648-4603
Task Status (proposed or active): active
Task priority: High
Time Frame for Task 2: December 2006 - May 2007
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 2007).
  • An open file report regarding the satellite data base and associated atmospheric correction approaches (June 2007).
  • A peer-reviewed publication regarding atmospheric correction evaluation (October 2007).

Title of Task 3: Change detection technique development using Loxahatchee information needs
Task Funding: USGS Priority Ecosystems Science, 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
Time Frame for Task 3: May 2007 - September 2007
Task Personnel: John W. Jones
Task Summary and Objectives:
This task builds on the information produced through Task 2. 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 have 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 2007)
  • Maps of LNWR land surfaces changes (September 2007)

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