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Project Work Plan

Department of Interior USGS GE PES

Fiscal Year 2008 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, WCA3
Funding Source: GE PES
Other Complementary Funding Source(s): Land Remote Sensing Program

Funding History: FY06; FY07

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
2 Contract personnel at approximately the GS/7 level

Supporting Organizations:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, University of Florida

Associated / Linked Studies:
Land Cover Dynamics/Environmental Processes
Everglades Depth Estimation Network (EDEN)
ELM support of ecological models for Everglades Restoration
South Florida Information Access (SOFIA)
FISC-Creation of a Digital Archive and Geodatabase of Historical Aerial Photographs of the Everglades National Park & the Greater Everglades Ecosystem
A GIS-Based Decision Framework for the Greater Everglades Ecosystem Restoration

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.


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) initially investigated in FY06 were enhanced, made operational, and documented in FY07. For example, using high accuracy elevation data collected in FY07, the area of coverage for the EDEN DEM was expanded to include more of WCA3 and portions of the Big Cypress National Wildlife Preserve. The EDEN DEM was used in various species habitat modeling efforts. Similarly, project-generated soils GIS databases for Miami/Dade and Collier counties are seeing wide application by public agencies and private industry. The satellite data database for the Everglades region was expanded through the acquisition of 27 archived Landsat images. Several methods of data calibration (and atmospheric correction in particular) were developed. Two of these algorithms were programmed into an image processing systems and initially compared by summer interns through human resource initiative funding/the mentoring program. Methods of generating biophysical variables from these data, such as leaf area index and estimates of evapotranspiration based on energy balance analysis were also piloted in FY07. They are now ready for testing and documentation. Together with project Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) research, the improved EDEN DEM, and the EDEN network of water level data, this extensive, calibrated satellite image database, soils information, and associated algorithms will be used for comprehensive analyses of vegetation and topography (ecohydrology). Therefore in FY08 this project becomes a user of EDEN information with a renewed investigation of landscape-scale land cover monitoring using remote sensing. Water Conservation Area 3 will be used as a pilot study area as it is currently a focus area for numerous hydrologic and landscape studies. 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 3 of an enhanced ground elevation model for the Greater Everglades Region
-A USGS report on the elevation modeling and assignment to EDEN grid cells
-A USGS report on the characteristics of the EDEN grid
-A new, fully-attributed soils GIS database for Miami/Dade and Collier Counties
-A USGS report documenting the digitization, attribution, and other metadata associated with the new generation of digital soil maps.
-An electronic atlas of the High Accuracy Elevation Model database with an associated distribution system/web page on SOFIA.

Planned Products:

-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 landscape change detection algorithms for Everglades land change monitoring.


Title of Task 1: Analysis of well-calibrated, high quality multi-resolution and multi-temporal databases to measure thresholds and rates of landscape change in the Everglades.
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: October 2007 - September 2008
Task Personnel: John W. Jones, Gail Winters

Task Summary and Objectives:

This has two objectives:

  1. 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).
  2. 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:

Project developed calibration, atmospheric correction, and biophysical modeling algorithms will be rigorously evaluated this year using ground-collected surface reflectences, meteorological and biophysical data to quantify and document their efficiency and effectiveness in producing consistent, regional temporal series of satellite data for Everglades research and monitoring.

To address the second task objective, exploratory and structured experiments will be conducted to determine the amounts of change in WCA3 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 through objective 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 we have determined what WCA3 changes can be reliably detected and identified using our techniques and available imagery, we will solicit interest in the conduct of similar work in other regions such as the Everglades National Park.

Specific Task Product(s):

-An expanded, multi-temporal, calibrated, and well-documented satellite image database (December 2007).
- An open file report regarding the satellite data base and associated atmospheric correction approaches (February 2008).
- A peer-reviewed publication regarding atmospheric correction evaluation (May 2008).
-Open File Report on change detection method development and testing (August 2008)
-Maps of WCA3 land surfaces changes (September 2008)

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