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Ground-Truthing Coral-Reef Maps Produced from Remote-Sensing Data

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oblique aerial photograph of Biscayne National Park
Biscayne National Park, FL. Image courtesy of National Park Service (Biscayne National Park).
In March, a diverse group from the USGS' St. Petersburg Center for Coastal and Regional Marine Studies (CCRMS) and the University of South Florida (USF)'s College of Marine Science headed south for a week of fieldwork in Biscayne National Park. Foiled since January by cold fronts that almost eerily coincided with each planned trip, the frustrated gang of five—John Brock, Tonya Clayton, Don Hickey, and Damaris Torres (USGS) and Dave Palandro (USF)—was delighted finally to be heading out to the reefs. (Note to the rest of the country: "Cold fronts" in South Florida aren't really cold, but they are blustery!)

Biscayne National Park, at the north end of the Florida Keys, is a true "water park," with more than 95 percent of its area covered by water. Within the park boundaries can be found the longest stretch of mangrove forest remaining on Florida's east coast, 14 threatened or endangered wildlife species, and the northernmost nearshore coral reefs in the continental United States. As the reader may recall from past issues of Sound Waves, the USGS has a long history of coral-reef research in Biscayne National Park. Now, in continued cooperation with Richard Curry (Biscayne National Park science coordinator), the USGS is also exploring various means of rapidly mapping and monitoring large areas of coral reefs and associated habitats. Although the methods developed will have worldwide application, Biscayne National Park serves as one of the primary natural laboratories for this research effort.

The primary aim of this particular field trip was to collect ground-truth data for comparison with benthic classifications based on remote-sensing data. We are comparing data from satellite and aircraft sensors of varying spatial and spectral resolution, and assessing their utility in providing useful maps of bottom type. On this particular trip, we visited more than 100 carefully selected sites to determine and document precisely what the bottom looks like at each site. These data will now be used to assess the accuracy with which benthic classifications can be made from space. We'll keep you posted!

Related Sound Waves Stories
Core Drilling in Biscayne National Park
July 2001
USGS Collaborates with Biscayne National Park on Coral-Reef Research
August 2000

Related Web Sites
Center for Coastal & Regional Marine Studies
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), St. Petersburg, FL
College of Marine Science
University of South Florida (USF)
Biscayne National Park
U.S. National Park Service (NPS)

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in this issue: Fieldwork cover story:
Contaminants Sampling Cruise - San Francisco

Ground-Truthing Coral Reef Maps

Research Shorebird Migration

CO2 in Saline Aquifers

Outreach Early Earth Day in Florida

Honduras Coral Reef Documentary Online

Girl Scouts

University Job Fair

Sea-Level Rise Lecture

Meetings Massachusetts Sea-level Rise Briefing

New Directions Workshop

Staff & Center News Floating Support Facility

Howell New Patuxent Director

WHFC Runners

Water-Column Optics Talks

Special Emphasis Program

New Employees

Mendenhall Fellow Presents Talk

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