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Project Work Plan

U.S. Geological Survey Greater Everglades Science Initiative (Place-Based Studies)

Fiscal Year 2004 Project Work Plan


Project Title: Creation of a Digital Archive of Historical Aerial Photographs for Everglades National Park & the Greater Everglades Ecosystem
Project Start Date: 1 July 2002 Project End Date: 30 June 2007
Project Funding: USGS Place-Based Studies Initiative, potentially from NPS - CESI or SFWMD
Principal Investigator: T.J. Smith III
Email address: Tom_J_Smith@usgs.gov
Phone: 727-803-8747 x 3130
Fax: 727-803-2030
Mail address: Florida Integrated Science Center at St. Petersburg, 600 Fourth Street, South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Co-Principal Investigator: Ann M. Foster
Email address: Ann_Foster@usgs.gov
Phone: 352-372-2571 x 25 Fax: 352-374-8080
Mail address: Florida Integrated Science Center at Gainesville - East, 412 NE 16th Avenue, Room 250, Gainesville, FL 32601

Co-Principal Investigator: John W. Jones
Email address: jwjones@usgs.gov
Phone: 703-648-5543 Fax: 703-648-4165
Mail address: Eastern Region Geography, USGS National Center, MS 521, 12202 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, VA 20192

Project Summary: A foundation for restoration of the Greater Everglades must include a clear understanding of the pre-drainage South Florida landscape. Knowledge of the spatial organization and structure of pre-drainage landscape communities such as mangrove forests, marshes, ridges & sloughs, wet prairies, and pinelands, is essential to provide potential endpoints, restoration goals and performance measures to gauge restoration success. Information contained in historical aerial photographs of the Everglades can aid in this endeavor. This project entails constructing the GIS data layers needed to examine landscape scale changes in the Everglades vegetation communities.

Project Objectives and Strategy: The overall objectives of this project are to scan and georeference aerial photography, and subsequently to develop GIS data layers for the recent past (1920s and onward) of the Everglades. This would result in the ability to use the data to ask questions concerning environmental change of the various vegetation communities as the present canal and levee system was built. By understanding how the vegetation changed in relation to past hydrological alterations, scientists will be able to better predict the trajectory of change as the restoration proceeds. However, in order to develop the GIS data layers, much tedious and time consuming work must be undertaken. We have recovered over 25,000 individual frames of aerial photography from the archives of Everglades National Park alone. Additional photographs have been provided by district offices of the NRCS and by the SFWMD. We have almost complete coverage of Everglades National Park (ENP) and Big Cypress for 1940 and of ENP for 1952/3, 1987and 1990. A significant number of 1964 photography are available for ENP as well as for, several dates in the 1970s. Beginning in the early 1990s, complete coverage is available as DOQQs, but the various sets have never been united in a single database. Aerial photos are individually scanned (at 800 dpi), georeferenced and saved as geotiff files. After resampling the imagery to 1m. pixel resolution they are then mosaicked and incorporated into a geodatabase. By this process, each photoset mosaic becomes a data layer in a geodatabase using Esri ArcSDE (Spatial Database Engine). This imagery can then be made available for researchers via the SOFIA website portal housed at USGS in St. Petersburg, Florida using ArcIMS software. In addition to the geodatabase layers, the individual, geotiff images will be published as Open File Reports as the sets are scanned and georeferenced.

Potential Impacts and Major Products: The impact of the results and products from this project will be significant. The GIS data layers will be of tremendous utility to the resource managers and planners involved with individual CERP projects. Three major products produced in the first year (FY2002) were two USGS Open-File Reports (OFR) and a pilot project of the Everglades Historical Aerial Photograph geodatabase. The first OFR contained digital copies of a set of topographic sheets (based on aerial photographs from 1927-1935) for the entire Florida Keys, Florida Bay and significant portions of the southwest coastal Everglades and southern Biscayne Bay. The second contained digital images from the 1940 photoset of almost all South Florida from south Lake Okeechobee to the northern shore of Florida Bay. The 1940 photos were not entirely mosaicked nor were they georeferenced due to the large manpower requirement. The third major product of the first year, the pilot geodatabase, includes georeferenced data layers of four photographic time steps (1940, 1964, 1987 and 1995) for the Southern Inland and Coastal System (SICS) area. This is now ready to be incorporated into the SOFIA website, pending ArcIMS programming.

In addition to these three completed products, during FY '03 the 1987, 1964 and 1952 photosets were scanned entirely at 800 dpi. The 1987 images are awaiting compilation to be published as an OFR of 300 dpi unreferenced imagery. We anticipate publishing this report at the beginning of FY '04.

Central to the archiving of the photography in FY '03 was the development and continual updating of a relational database created using Microsoft Access. In this database, we created a record for each set of photography, and each individual photograph in the set. The database serves as an important and powerful tool allowing us to quickly query and summarize the characteristics and status of any photograph or sets of photographs by any one of a number of parameters (e.g. year, geographic location, etc.). Tables derived from this database will then be available as part of the geodatabase.

There are four major products which we anticipate developing under the proposed work plan for FY '04:

1) 1940 mosaic: A mosaicked and georeferenced GIS data layer of the entire 1940 photoset, including the already referenced SICS area photographs. This will be released as an OFR and will also be incorporated into the geodatabase and placed on the SOFIA website.

2) The individual georeferenced photographs of the 1940 set, available for download as MrSID files from the SOFIA website.

3) Everglades Historical Aerial Photographic Geodatabase: The expansion of the pilot Everglades Historical Aerial Photographic geodatabase to include a wider area of the Everglades National Park and the Greater Everglades Ecosystem.

4) Everglades Historical Aerial Photographs ArcIMS Site: ArcIMS allows for public viewing and downloads of historical aerial photographs. Users can interact with and view geodatabase data, raster and vector, using a standard web browser. ArcIMS provides the public with viewing, query, and mapping capabilities.

(Note that items 3 and 4 will not be completed during FY04, only initiated.)

Project Time Frame: Time Frame is below.

time frame for project
[larger image]

Rob Wertz, GD, St. Petersburg, FL
Heather Henkel, GD, St. Petersburg, FL
Roy Sonenshein, WRD, Miami, FL

CERP participants and interested parties
William B. Perry, Coastal & Marine Program Coordinator, Everglades National Park, Homestead, FL
Robert Panko, Chief, Fire Management & Ecology Team, Everglades National Park, Homestead, FL
Matt Patterson, NPS, SE Regional Office, Inventory & Monitoring Coordinator, Krome Center, Homestead, FL
Martha Nungessor, Everglades Division, SFWMD, West Palm Beach, FL
Kenneth Rutchey, Everglades Division, SFWMD, West Palm Beach, FL
Steve Davis, RECOVER Division, SFWMD, West Palm Beach, FL
Mike Duever, Lower West Coast Division, SFWMD, Ft. Myers, FL
Susan Teel, EPA, Fish & Wildlife Liaison, Vero Beach, FL
USFWS Everglades RECOVER group, Vero Beach, FL
The 16 counties in the Greater Everglades area


Title of Task 1: Georeference and mosaic the 1940, 1952, 1964 and 1987 aerial photosets
Task Funding: USGS Place-Based Studies Initiative, NPS-CESI
Task Leaders: T.J. Smith III & J.W. Jones
Phone: 727-803-8747 x 3130
FAX: 727-803-3020
Task Status: ACTIVE (barely)
Task priority: HIGH
Task Personnel: Alisa Coffin, Kelly Watkins, and additional ER Geography staff TBN

Task Summary and Objectives: Numerous sets of aerial photographs exist for all or portions of the Greater Everglades ecosystem. During the first year of this project, the topographic sheets (T-sheets) from the coastal Everglades, Florida Bay and the Keys were scanned and georeferenced. They were released as an Open-File Report on CD-ROM and can be downloaded from the SOFIA website (http://sofia.usgs.gov). Parts of some other photo sets were scanned, but not rectified or georeferenced. The objectives of this task are to Orthorectify, mosaic, georeference, and distribute the 1940 photo set; begin work on the 1952, 1964 and 1987 sets; and garner additional support for the completion of the later three timeframes.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures: Rectification will be accomplished via an ortho-rectification process using ERDAS Imagine software. For the oldest photosets, we can only use a Non-Metric Camera Model. However, with knowledge of the camera (focal length, camera type) and the calibration reports, we will be able to extract the information necessary to construct a Frame Camera Geometric Model for the later photosets. With a minimum number of Ground Control Points (GCPs) specified the software automatically collects "tie" points. The tie points will be manually examined and those with obvious error eliminated. GCPs will be distributed across the area being rectified to minimize distortion. For the region being studied, good ground control points are rare and poor GCPs are better than no GCPs. Wherever possible we will use distinguishable GCPs with known elevations and may collect field GPS readings for identifiable locations in earlier photosets that are extant today such as canals, levees, and structures. We will use Digital Ortho-photo Quadrangle Quarters (DOQQs) as the reference data set for rectifying each scanned image. By using DOQQs, we can use photo identifiable points from one image to assist in recifying an adjacent image with few or no GCPs. It is still critical to have a minimum number of good GCPs. Sampling error will be assessed by use of the triangulation report produced by Imagine. This report provides the Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) for each group of images. We will not accept rectification results with a high RMSE. Rectification will be an iterative process as GCPs are added and/or removed until the RMSE is within the desired level. The final phase of rectification involves resampling the image and exporting the resultant, corrected (rectified) image to GEOTIFF format. The GEOTIFF images will be archived to external media.

Planned Outreach: Project personnel will make presentations at formal scientific meetings and publish each photoset as an OFR. Informal briefings to resource managers involved in CERP will be undertaken on a regular and as-needed basis. For example, a briefing will be made to the C-111 Spreader Canal Ecology Sub-team July 1 and to SFWMD staff on July 10. During those briefings, copies of OFR 02-204 and OFR 02-327 will be distributed.

Title of Task 2: Development of a Geodatabase for the Everglades Historical Aerial Photographic Archive
Task Funding: USGS Place-Based Studies Initiative
Task Leaders: Ann M. Foster
Phone: 352-372-2471 x 25
FAX: 352-374-8080
Task Status: Active (barely)
Task priority: HIGH
Task Personnel: Alisa Coffin and Kristy Capobianco (UF), Kelly Watkins (CSC), additional USGS and contractors TBN

Task Summary and Objectives: The goal of the digital archive is to develop a set of georeferenced historical imagery that can be utilized in scientific research. Primary users of this imagery will be resource managers and planners involved with the numerous individual CERP projects as well as researchers engaged in restoration research for CERP. For both groups knowledge of pre-drainage landscape conditions is essential. While scanning and georeferencing the imagery is a vital first step toward the goal of using this information (Task 1), equally vital is the step of making the imagery available for use in resource planning and scientific inquiry. As individual files in a file-based system, the imagery can be used in a GIS. However, their use is severely constrained by the size of the files themselves. Any significant study may involve dozens or hundreds of images at one time. Depending on the hardware and software available to the scientist, the size of the files may constrain the extent of the analysis and potentially hamper the researcher's ability to use them in the GIS. In addition, information about the imagery included in the database is not as readily available within the GIS, leaving it to the researcher to relate the imagery to its associated metadata and attribute tables.

This task will develop the Everglades aerial photo archive into a database of information that can be more easily used, queried and analyzed. Using a database program such as Oracle, coupled with ArcSDE and ArcIMS, the raster imagery can be stored as a geodatabase as opposed to a file-based system. There are numerous advantages to this method of storage and management of the data, including: for the central administration of the database; the ability to accommodate multiple users; a common data management and retrieval system for raster and vector data, metadata and tabular data; greater security of the data; a common query environment for all of the data; and finally, the ability to serve the data quickly over an internal or external network, or a web-based network.

The beginnings of this task were begun in FY '03, with the near completion of a pilot project of the SICS area. Specific goals of this task are: 1) to further develop the geodatabase to store the raster imagery of historical aerial photographs of the Everglades, along with the tabular data, metadata and any vector data associated with the imagery; and, 2) serve the Everglades Historic Aerial Photographic geodatabase to the resource management community through the SOFIA Website.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures: The work will be accomplished using standard GIS software packages such as ERDAS Imagine, Oracle, ESRI ArcGIS, ArcSDE, and ArcIMS (use of trade names does not constitute endorsement by the USGS).

Archival: The historical aerial photographs will be archived in SURF (Spatially United Raster Sets), the USGS Center for Coastal and Regional Marine Studies' production geodatabase.

  • SURF Description: SURF is a raster geodatabase that uses Oracle 8.1.6 and ESRI's Spatial Database Engine (ArcSDE) software. The geodatabase resides on a Sun Enterprise 250 running the Solaris operating systems in the Center's St. Petersburg office and will be populated and maintained (QA/QC) by the Center's geodatabase administrator.
  • SURF Benefits: Enterprise-wide accessibility; Oracle-based backup, recovery, and security strategies; fast access and retrieval of imagery; reduction of physical storage and data redundancy.

Dissemination: The SURF geodatabase will provide an open interface between users and the historical aerial photographs using two methods:

  1. Direct SURF access: Users can view, download, and analyze the photographs using the following applications:
    • ArcExplorer: A free GIS data exploration tool that allows users to view data from SURF, local, and internet map server sources.
    • ArcView 3x: A popular desktop mapping/GIS analysis software package that allows users to combine data from SURF with other data sources.
    • ArcGIS Suite: ESRI's high-end GIS software package that provides a complete toolbox for automation, modification, data manipulation, editing, analysis, and display of geographic data from SURF.
    • ERDAS Imagine: A powerful image processing software package that also allows direct connection to the SURF database.

  2. ArcIMS: ESRI's Arc Internet Map Server (IMS) software will distribute the photographs across the Internet. Users will also be able to view and download the photographs from the web mapping application using any of the following viewers:
    • Web browser: Users will be able to view and download photographs by visiting the map service website using a standard web browser such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
    • ArcExplorer: A free GIS data exploration tool that allows users to add data from SURF, local, and internet map server sources.
    • ArcGIS Suite: ESRI's high-end GIS software package that allows users to view and download photographs by connecting to the map service website.

Planned Outreach: Project personnel will prepare an Open-File Report that contains instructions on how to access and query the database, how to download individual images and mosaicked GIS datalayers and otherwise make full use of the data that are available. The OFR will be widely distributed. Furthermore, task personnel will visit individual resource management agencies to demonstrate the use of the database and make presentations / demonstrations at appropriate scientific forums (as was done at the 2003 GEER conference).


Almost all of the individual CERP projects have a spatial component. Specific water delivery projects identified in the draft DOI science plan, for which this project can provide information, include: Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands, CSOP and C-111 Spreader Canal, the Henderson Creek - Belle Meade Restoration, the Southwest Florida Feasibility Study, and the Southern Golden Gate Estates Hydrologic Restoration Project, to name a few. Most CERP projects are in need of historical, baseline, conditions. The tasks in this project will deliver needed information that is spatially explicit and easily available over the web to the resource managers and planners of the CERP projects. Throughout the Monitoring and Assessment Plan for CERP there are references to "baseline" conditions. There are also important science questions and hypotheses that will be testable using the GIS data layers this project develops. For example, "What landscape measures best describe the ridge and slough?" "How fast and where has the mangrove - marsh ecotone changed over time?" Any number of questions could be asked of the data.

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Last updated: 04 September, 2013 @ 02:08 PM(KP)