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Remote Sensing of Water Turbidity and Sedimentation in Florida Bay and Biscayne Bay

Project Proposal for 1999

Project number: 7242-37651

USGS Geologic Division

Continuing Project Work Plan - FY 1999

Project title: Remote Sensing of Water Turbidity and Sedimentation in Florida Bay and Biscayne Bay
Geographic area: South Florida
Project start date: FY 1995
Project end date: FY 1999

Project chief: Richard P. Stumpf
Region/Division/Team/Section: Eastern Region/Geologic Division/Coastal and Marine Team/Center for Coastal Geology
Email: rstumpf@ usgs.gov
Phone: 813-893-3100 x3024
Fax: 813-893-3333
Mail address:
600 Fourth Street South
St. Petersburg FL 33701

Program(s) (list all programs to which this work plan is being submitted):
South Florida Ecosystem Program

Program element(s)/task(s) (show percent distribution if more than one element/task). If submitting to more than one program, include element(s)/tasks from each program here:

Project summary: A brief (<100 words) summary written to be understood by a nonspecialist.
Water turbidity has a major impact on viability of various marine communities such as seagrasses and
hardbottoms. Resuspension events can lead to burial or damage to many of the bottom communities in these bays and may lead to introduction of nutrients to the water column, causing algal blooms. This project uses satellite data to examine the clarity of Florida and Biscayne Bays and provides an assessment of the spatial and temporal variability, which can be used in interpreting data from field measurement programs. The satellite imagery is compared with field measurements of light attenuation, water clarity and particulate loads that are made during various monitoring programs, as well as from this project. Changes over several years, between seasons, and during specific events such as cold fronts are examined.

Project objectives and strategy: More detailed/technical than the project summary, describing BRIEFLY the technical goals and approaches to be used over the LIFETIME of the project.

The objective is to understand the conditions causing turbidity in Florida Bay through integration of a combination of satellite imagery with field observations. The project involves the development of a time series of past and current conditions on water temperature and turbidity in Florida and Biscayne Bays to identify changes in the Bay using satellite data and coordination with field measurements and examine the linkage of turbidity to bottom environments.

The effort has concentrated on evaluation of changes over the past twelve years, both in turbidity and in benthic habitats and assessment of current conditions as compared to previous conditions in the Bay.

The major products will be journal papers, a fact sheet and CDís that includes the data set from 1985 to the present, and the inclusion of change assessments and current status on our web page. One or more papers are expected as well.

Potential impacts and major products: Describe expected outcomes, both scientific and management/policy-related. What scientific questions and land-management and policy issues does this project help answer? Why is it important to Program priorities? What products will you produce to contribute to the desired outcomes?

The study has identified changes in water clarity and in broad-scale benthic habitat both within Florida Bay and the adjacent water outside of Everglades National Park, and in other waters in the region (Biscayne Bay). The results have a strong role in identifying whether water management practices in the Everglades have played a critical factor in the die-off of seagrass and the development of turbid water. The project has also established a web page that is commonly used by researchers in the region to check for current (within a day) temperature and turbidity.

Collaborators, clients (Names, affiliation, and roles of internal and external users of information generated by project):

Florida Department of Environmental Protection
The Nature Conservancy
Various scientists in the region. At the Florida Bay Science Conference, researchers from U. Miami and NOAA
Fisheries used imagery from this projectís web site as part of their investigations.

Time line (FY 1999 to project end): List MAJOR tasks and deliverables by fiscal year and indicate key staff responsible for each.

The primary task in FY1999, which is the last year, is to provide synthesis in context of the entire sedimentation project. The key synthesis effort is coming out in the paper for the special issue of Estuaries on long-term data sets of Florida Bay (see below), which has already been submitted.

FY 1999 activities: Statement of the work to be undertaken in FY 1999 and a description of the methods and procedures.

Most of the key results are being published in a series of papers already submitted or being prepared this summer. FY 1999 will involve the final details of synthesis of the data set. The routine daily processing of images will be transferred to either Florida Department of Environmental Protection (Florida Marine Research Institute or NOAA. The final conclusions will be incorporated into the synthesis volumes.

FY 1999 deliverables/products: Describe in more detail the specific deliverables/products that will result from this work in FY 1999.

FY 1999 outreach: Emphasizing FY 1999, describe plans to address client requirements, decisions, and deadlines.

Information will be transferred to Florida DEP so that they can process and interpret imagery directly for their research studies. The CDROM with NOAA, will include a compilation of several data sets that will enhance the imagery. This includes water quality measurements from FIU and FDEP, and the water color surveys of FDEP, as well as meteorological data from the NOAA CMAN stations.

New directions or major changes for FY 1999 (if applicable):
No new directions, the project is completed as expected.

FY 1998 accomplishments and outcomes, including outreach:

Completed time series of satellite from 1985 to the present. Processed over 2000 scenes and have used about 1700 of these to examine changes over time. We have established relationships with attenuation and suspended sediments and developed a model for identifying conversion of dense to sparse seagrass. We are completing a model to estimate the total density of seagrass cover. We have developed a model describing resuspension in the Bay using only satellite and wind data.

FY 1998 deliverables, products completed:
papers submitted:

Stumpf, R.P. M.L. Frayer ,M.J. Durako, submitted, Variations in water clarity and bottom albedo in Florida Bay from 1985 to 1997. Estuaries.

Ransibrahmanakul, V. and R.P. Stumpf, in prep. Use of satellite data for modeling sediment resuspension in Florida. Geophysical Research Letters.

Stumpf, R.P., M.L. Frayer, M.J. Durako, M. Hall, in prep. Estimation of seagrass cover in Florida Bay from satellite using seasonal data. Bulletin of Marine Research.

Fact sheet. Remote Sensing of Water Turbidity in Florida Bay. Open File Report 98-xxx.

Stumpf, R.P. and M.L. Frayer, 1998. Remote sensing of Florida Bay, 1989 - 1997. CD-ROM, Open File Report 98-xxx.

CD-ROM jointly with NOAA Coastal Services Center:
Environmental conditions and remote sensing of south Florida (expected to be completed in late summer).

Names and expertise (e.g. carbonate petrology) of key project staff (list by fiscal year for duration of project):

R.P. Stumpf

Other required expertise for which no individual has been identified (list by fiscal year for duration of project):


Major equipment/facility needs (list by fiscal year for duration of project):


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