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One current research project in the park seeks to further develop remote-sensing methods appropriate for shallow-bottom areas. In August 2002, scientists from several institutions gathered at Biscayne National Park for 10 days of cooperative fieldwork organized by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists John Brock and Tonya Clayton. This fieldwork was part of an ongoing collaboration with Wayne Wright of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in support of the development and evaluation of a new airborne sensor designed with coral-reef environments in mind. Thanks to Richard Curry, Biscayne National Park's science coordinator, the park has served as a primary study site for this and several other USGS science projects (see previous Sound Waves articles at the end of this story).
The purpose of this particular mission was to collect new kinds of lidar (light detection and ranging) and photographic data from an aircraft, while boatborne collaborators simultaneously collected "sea-truthing" acoustic and optical data over selected reef areas. (Airborne lidar uses laser light to efficiently and accurately measure the elevations of features on land and in shallow water.)
At center stage was the NASA Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar (EAARL), developed by Wayne and flown on a Cessna 310 by pilot Virgil Rabine and copilot Wayne.
On the ground, Amar Nayegandhi (USGS) and NASA interns Conan Noronha (NASA/University of Southern California) and Enils Bashi (NASA/Salisbury University) provided real-time programming and aircraft-data processing. NASA intern Kevin Riordan (NASA/University of South Carolina) collected terrestrial ground-truthing data, while USGS intern Lance Mosher (USGS/Eckerd College) manned a global-positioning-system (GPS) base station at Adams Key.
The National Coral Reef Institute (NCRI) provided the "acoustics boat." The crew here included Bernhard Riegl (NCRI), BJ Reynolds (USGS), Ryan Moyer (NCRI), and Brian Walker (NCRI). Sonar data collected at 50- and 200-kHz frequencies are being used to map bathymetry and bottom type. Coincident towed video footage was collected in selected areas. BJ pulled double duty by also coordinating the field GPS measurements.
One highlight of the trip was a field trip from the field trip: after several long(!) days in the searing subtropical sun, everyone took a day off from the open waters (and skies) and met at the Marathon airport to visit the aircraft and view the EAARL operations. USGS botanist Tom Smith, who happened to be working in Everglades National Park at the time, also joined the excursion, which was a welcome and well-earned opportunity to share some shade, data, and veggieburgers.
This trip was made possible by the generous support of many folks both in the field and in the lab. In addition to the participation noted above, Richard provided a park boat that was ideal for deploying the optics package, as well as dive tanks and air arrangements that greatly facilitated data collection. Shay Viehman (Biscayne National Park) also assisted with the many logistic arrangements and details. Pam Reid and Art Gleason (University of Miami) generously provided laboratory space and many liters of optically clean water (a rare commodity!) for essential instrument calibrations. Charlie Mazel (Physical Sciences, Inc.) and Chuanmin Hu (University of South Florida) facilitated reflectance measurements. The contributions of these folks and all others who pitched in to make the trip a success are gratefully acknowledged.
in this issue:
Remote Sensing of Coral Reefs at Biscayne National Park
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