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 Home | Tampa Bay Study | Reports | OFR 00-243: Tampa Bay Estuary Integrated Science Pilot Study

This page is archived and is no longer being maintained. Content was last updated in 2015. For current research, visit http://coastal.er.usgs.gov/.
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U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey
Open-File Report 01-243    [
View PDF]

View other reports in the 2001
Tampa Bay Pilot Study Series:
Conceptual Model for Gulf of Mexico Estuaries Integrated Science
Estuarine System

Project Facilitator: Lisa Robbins
Scientific Project Leader: Kimberly Yates

Tampa Bay Integrated Science Pilot Study

The Tampa Bay Pilot Study is an integrated science effort by the USGS that combines the expertise of Federal, State, and local partners to address some of the most pressing societal and ecological problems of the Tampa Bay Estuary. As a pilot study, the project will serve to develop a template for application of integrated research projects in other estuaries in the Gulf of Mexico. The USGS has designed the Tampa Bay Pilot Study with the following four major components to focus on the identified scientific needs of the bay:
  • establish baseline maps and bathymetry
  • identify sources and quality of groundwater seeping into the bay
  • establish current, historical, and pre-historical wetland conditions to document trends in ecosystem health and status
  • provide a web-based clearinghouse of information for scientists and the public, including a prototype Tampa Bay Decision Support and Query System for decision makers.

Tampa Bay: A Resource for the Present and the Future

Tampa Bay, one of the Gulf of Mexicoís largest estuaries, exemplifies the environmental stresses that our nationís bays and estuaries face in general. More than 2 million people live in the Tampa Bay watershed, and the population continues to grow. Increased development demands more fresh water, and creates greater air and water pollution. Despite the changing quality and quantity of water entering the bay and dramatic alteration of sensitive coastal environments, the scientific baseline controls documenting these changes have not yet been established.
Figure 1. Satellite image of Tampa Bay indicating demonstration project study sites near the Alafia River and Terra Ceia area (near the Manatee River).

Colors are near natural: healthy plants are green, agricultural fields are pink or beige, and highways are purple.

[view enlargement]

Satellite Image of Tampa Bay

Maps for the Future: Baseline and Bathymetric Maps

Tampa Bay has undergone an increased rate of urbanization and has experienced significant land-use changes over the last 50 years. Scientists are documenting these changes by compiling and digitizing historical maps showing land use changes, patterns of historical wetlands growth and loss, water, chemical, and biological data. These data will be entered into a Geographic Information System (GIS) format for interactive display by digital overlays of various databases. The need for these baseline and bathymetric maps at broad and fine scales has been identified as a priority item by interested agencies and ecosystem managers in the bay area. Fine-scale maps will initially focus on two locations in Tampa Bay, the Alafia River area and Terra Ceia area (Fig. 1). These two sites represent potential end members with respect to urbanization, water quality, and estuarine health.

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