Gulf of Mexico Science Coordination

NGOM | USGS Gulf of Mexico Science Coordination | Meetings | Gulf Coast Science Conference & FISC Science Meeting - GOM Poster Abstracts
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Poster Abstracts: Gulf Coast Science Conference

6: Data Integration

Development of High-Resolution Digital Elevation Products along the Northern Gulf of Mexico Coast

Jamie M. Bonisteel1, Amar Nayegandhi1, John C. Brock2, and C. Wayne Wright2

1 Jacobs Technology, Inc., Florida Integrated Science Center, St. Petersburg, Florida
2 U.S. Geological Survey, Florida Integrated Science Center, St. Petersburg, Florida

The Northern Gulf of Mexico (NGOM) is an important ecosystem with a wide array of valuable resources that include commercial fisheries, petroleum and natural gas reservoirs, and wetland habitats for fish and wildlife. The morphology of the Gulf Coast is strongly influenced by anthropogenic and natural events. To be able to quantify morphologic modification, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Coastal and Marine Geology Program (CMGP) has undertaken high-resolution mapping of fine-scale topography along the Gulf Coast. The system used is the Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar (EAARL), which provides unprecedented capabilities to survey nearshore benthic habitats, coastal vegetation, and sandy beaches. Multiple repeat surveys have been conducted along the NGOM since Hurricane Ivan made landfall around Gulf Shores, Alabama, in 2004. The Gulf Coast became a major focus for coastal-change studies after Hurricane Katrina impacted areas from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle in August 2005. Pre- and post-Hurricane Katrina EAARL lidar surveys have been processed to create products that show the canopy topography and bare-earth topography. These products support the CMGP Northern Gulf Coast Ecosystem Change and Hazard Susceptibility Project. DVD-based lidar-data products are published as USGS Open-File Reports (OFRs) or USGS Data Series, and include 1-m-resolution digital elevation model (DEM) geotiffs, Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC)-compliant metadata, and XYZ and LAS point cloud data. All published DVD products are distributed to Federal, State, and local agencies and are made available online.

Contact Information: Jamie M. Bonisteel, Jacobs Technology, Inc., Florida Integrated Science Center, 600 4th Street South, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701; phone: 727-803-8747; fax: 727-803-2032; email:

The Delta Research and Global Observation Network

Dr. Greg Smith1, Dr. Scott Wilson1, and Cindy Thatcher2

1 USGS, National Wetlands Research Center; Lafayette, Louisiana
2 IAP World Services, Inc., National Wetlands Research Center, Lafayette, Louisiana

The USGS National Wetlands Research Center (NWRC) has initiated an effort to understand biological and hydrological processes and management outcomes for massive deltaic coastal systems like that of the Mississippi River Delta.  The Delta Research and Global Observation Network (DRAGON) is a science framework initiated to establish an international community of practice, to develop new visualization tools, and to compare and predict outcomes of various management scenarios. 

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have prompted the construction of new flood protection systems in the Mississippi River delta.  Now, more than ever, there is a critical need to share information from deltas around the world and to develop models that guide and inform decisions, management, and policy. 

The goal of the web-based DRAGON is to facilitate information sharing and predictive model development.  The network will benefit the international community by providing tools for data integration and modeling, such as an extensive digital library focusing on 12 globally important deltas, a map viewer, a data repository, and a database of scientists involved in delta-related research to stimulate collaboration.

The community of practice concept is also applicable to scientists working along the Mississippi River.  With monitoring and research activities occurring along the length of the Mississippi, there is a need to integrate data analysis across such systems as the Coastwide Reference Monitoring System (CRMS) in Louisiana and the Long Term Resource Monitoring Program (LTRMP) in the upper Mississippi River.  Given the proper tools, scientists could use these long-term data sets to model complex systems, such as the entire Mississippi River.

Contact Information: Scott Wilson, USGS, National Wetlands Research Center, Lafayette, Louisiana 70506; email:

The Non-Indigenous Aquatic Species Database and Alert System

Pam Fuller, U.S. Geological Survey, Florida Integrated Science Center, Gainsville, Florida

The Nonindigenous Aquatic Species (NAS) database ( maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey in Gainesville, Florida, serves as a repository for spatial occurrence data on introduced aquatic species nationwide. The NAS program is a publicly accessible system designed to assist state and federal agencies and non-governmental organizations in understanding and managing non-native species in their jurisdictions. Whereas the NAS database focuses mainly on freshwater species, the NAS staff works closely with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, which focuses mainly on marine species. We also work in partnership with Portland State University which maintains the aquatic plant portion of the database. The NAS system is highly integrated and has many capabilities. Species are all linked to collection data, fact sheets, images, references, pathways data, an alert system, and interactive, real-time maps. Currently the system provides mapping by hydrologic unit codes; however, the capability to provide point distribution maps and maps by population status is being developed. The NAS Alert System is activated whenever a species is entered from a locality (state, county, or drainage) where it has not been previously recorded in the database. The alert is reviewed for relevance before being sent out. Users may register to receive alerts (by state, taxonomic group or species) via e-mail or can browse and search the archive on the site. Species introduced into the Gulf of Mexico include the jellyfish Phyllorhiza punctata, and Drymonema dalmatinum, green mussel Perna viridis, the tunicate Didemnum perlucidum, the Tessellated blenny Hypsoblennius invemar, Asian tiger shrimp Penaeus monodon, and Nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus. Vectors that bring new species into the Gulf include shipping, ocean currents sweeping up species from the Caribbean, oil and gas platforms towed from South America, and escapes from aquaculture facilities.

Contact Information: Pam Fuller, U.S. Geological Survey, Florida Integrated Science Center, Gainsville, Florida 32653; phone: 352 264 3481; email:

Coastal Prairie Restoration Information System

Larry Allain, USGS National Wetlands Research Center, Lafayette, Louisiana

Over 550 plant species have been identified in Louisiana’s coastal prairies to date. Efforts to conserve and restore this endangered ecosystem are limited by the ability of workers to identify, and access knowledge about, this diverse group of plants. The Coastal Prairie Restoration Information System (CPR) is a software program that allows users to query and view data about coastal prairie plant species. A variety of data are provided for each of 650 species including scientific, common and family names, authors, synonyms; plant characteristics such as origin, bloom color, bloom date, life span, height, growth form, seed size, and photosynthetic pathway; a range map and color photograph; text fields including a description, wildlife use, culture, natural history, and a list of references; wetland indicator categories and coefficients and floral quality values for each species. Selecting names or characters from dropdown menus allows users to search the database for particular prairie plant species.

Contact Information: Larry Allain, U.S. Geological Survey, National Wetlands Research Center, 700 Cajundome Blvd., Lafayette, Louisiana 70506; phone: 337-266-8672; fax: 337-266-8621; email:

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