Research Projects

Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Information and Data Cooperative (GRIIDC)
(2010- Present)

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) is a 10-year, $500 million independent research program established by a Master Research Agreement between BP and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance to study the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the environment and public health in the Gulf of Mexico. Dr. James Gibeaut at the Harte research institute was charged with development of a research database that would house data collected under the GoMRI. This data will then be made available to fulfill the goal of improving society’s ability to understand and mitigate the impacts of hydrocarbon pollution and stressors on the marine environment and apply the accrued knowledge to the restoration and improvement of the long-term environmental health of the Gulf of Mexico.

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Information and Data Cooperative (GRIIDC) is the vehicle by which the GoMRI compiles and manages the data collected by their funded researchers. The GRIIDC will serve the GoMRI by assisting researchers with data archiving and ensuring data interoperability among GoMRI and other datasets. The mission of the GRIIDC is to ensure a data and information legacy that promotes continual scientific discovery and public awareness of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem.

    Links:    Data Management     Research     GoMRI Home  

Evaluation of Ecosystem Services of Coastal Habitats
Sponsors: epa

This work, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency will produce procedures and tools for mapping ecosystem services and the values of those services for Gulf of Mexico coastal habitats. Mustang Island, Texas, a typical Gulf barrier-island system, is serving as the study area for developing and testing tools that may be applied in many Gulf coast settings. Products will be integrated with and use habitat data compiled in the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Habitat Identification and Characterization Team's Internet-based geospatial database system. This project, therefore, will widely provide decision support tools and information needed to implement ecosystem-based management.

    Links:    Gecoserve     Ecosystem Poster  

Texas Shoreline Type Mapping
Sponsors: glo

This Texas General Land Office Oil Spill Prevention & Response Program project will provide up-to-date shoreline type classifications in the Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) ranking system. It will update and improve the accuracy and resolution of the ESI shoreline data in the current Texas General Land Office's Oil Spill Planning and Response Atlas. The shoreline developed for this work may also be used for shoreline change analysis and the new low-altitude oblique photography and video acquired for this project will allow shoreline inspections for a variety of purposes. Shorelines for the upper Texas coast have been completed (link to report) and are in progress for the lower Texas coast.

    Reports:    ESI Report (Draft)  

Shoreline Change and Beach/Dune Morphodynamics Along the Gulf Coast
Sponsors: boeg glo

This work is funded by the Texas General Land Office and the Department of the Interior, Mineral Management Service (MMS). The goal of this project is to improve the management, protection, and restoration of the beach/dune system along the Texas Gulf of Mexico shoreline. Protection of the natural foredunes and their enhancement is an excellent way to decrease the susceptibility of the shoreline to storm damage, while improving the beach/dune environment. Up-to-date knowledge of the vegetation cover, volume, and morphology of beaches and dunes is a fundamental dataset for determining the susceptibility of the coast to storm damage and ongoing erosion. This project will provide data, maps, and analyses that are needed to plan the future of the shoreline. State-of-the-art lidar technology and analysis methods will be used.

Employing the Conservation Design Approach on Coastal Avian Habitats along the Central Texas Coast
(2011- Present)
Sponsors: icf

In cooperation with The International Crane Foundation, along with the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, the Nature Conservancy, the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, and the Conrad Blucher Institute for Surveying and Science at Texas A&M – Corpus Christi, this project seeks to identify crucial bird habitat and conservation priorities in the Coastal Bend portion of the Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative in relation to climate change and sea level rise.
This project will identify and acquire existing habitat data, map habitat shifts resulting from sea level rise, and assess impacts on habitat carrying capacity associated with potential habitat change. Additional goals include a specific focus on the spatial configuration of habitat needs for the endangered Whooping Crane in a pilot project area, and the development of recommendations to extend the habitat change projection methods to additional areas within the Gulf Coast Prairies and Marshes Ecoregion. The Coastal and Marine Geospatial providing thematic and geospatial data support and evaluation for this project. Information from this project will provide the science necessary to undertake strategic conservation efforts across large geographic areas, in part to address major environmental and human-related factors that limit wildlife populations.White Crane  - Photo credit: TeamSmith
© Photo credit: TeamSmith

Texas Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning- Coastal Resources Data Gathering and Assessment
(2011- Present)
Sponsors: glo

Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning is an integrative, adaptive ecosystem-based approach to planning that rings together all the relevant agencies and stakeholders to ensure a more sustainable use of our marine space and resources. The current project is focused on coastal resource data gathering and assessment which involves data inventory, characterization, prioritized data acquisition, and compilation.

CAMEO: Building the Foundation - An Integrative Approach to Managing the Dewatering of Estuaries
Sponsors: noaa

This project, funded by NOAA, will conduct ecosystem and human dimensions research to develop integrative decision-support tools. These tools will provide decision-makers information for managing freshwater inflows to estuaries. The project addresses two main goals of the Comparative Analysis of Marine Ecosystem Organization (CAMEO) program: (1) integrate information from experimental, observational, human dimension, and modeling approaches and (2) provide science-based information to policy makers and managers. This project involves all areas of research at the Harte Research Institute, and the CMGL's portion involves using remote sensing technologies to compare the spatial and temporal variation of suspended sediments in three Texas estuaries and relate those variations to freshwater inflow. This analysis will allow prediction on how estuaries may respond to continued dewatering or watering.

    Links:    NOAA  

Post Hurricane Ike Study
(2010- Present)
Sponsors: hdr

Hurricane Ike made landfall on the upper Texas coast at Galveston on September 13, 2008. The storm, as reported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is likely to be the third most costly in U.S. history, causing major erosion of the shoreline and vegetation line. The Coastal and Marine Geospatial lab have been involved in various efforts to document and analyze storm impact and recovery of the Gulf-facing beached and dunes. Ground and remote sensed data are used to assess coastal change including shoreline position, volumetric losses, and recovery. These studies will provide increased information necessary to understand hurricane impacts and to better plan for future storms.

Gulf of Mexico Alliance: Identification and Characterization of Gulf Habitats
Sponsors: noaa

This major project, funded by NOAA, supports the Gulf of Mexico Alliance's Ecosystem Integration and Assessment Priority Issue Team. The primary goal of this project is to improve management of Gulf habitats through the creation of a publicly accessible Internet portal for searching, viewing, analyzing, and downloading habitat related geospatial data. Through partnerships with Gulf States and federal government agencies, we are compiling geospatial data on habitats and developing tools for accessing and analyzing habitat related geospatial data. These tools and data will be used by coastal resource managers for evaluating permit applications, tracking environmental trends, and developing and implementing ecosystem-based management policy. Work will be done in close partnership with federal and Gulf state agencies.

Coastal Geohazards Mapping
Sponsors: noaa cbbep glo sotcon

Barrier islands are highly vulnerable to relative sea-level rise, erosion, and tropical storms, but simply categorizing their entire extent as a risky place to live would not help guide ongoing urban development. The Coastal and Marine Geospatial Lab has worked to provide interactive coastal geohazards maps of 3 barrier islands on the Texas coast. These maps show areas that vary in their susceptibility to, and function for, mitigating the effects of geological processes. These processes include relative sea-level rise, erosion, and storm-surge flooding and washover. Information about geoenvironments, terrain elevation, historical and projected shoreline positions, and parcels is also included. These maps consider the spatial and temporal patterns of geological processes, geomorphology, and geoenvironments (e.g., wetlands and dunes) that combine to create potentially hazardous conditions. Features that mitigate hazardous conditions, such as dune ridges, will also be mapped. Model projections on how the island will change in 60 years will be incorporated in the map so that people may plan for the future. The goal is to provide information to the planning process, but it will also serve to increase public awareness of the natural physical processes acting on the islands. Geohazards maps have been developed of Galveston Island and South Padre Island Texas, and Mustang Island Texas. Completed maps and progress on the ongoing project can be accessed online at

The Galveston Island Geohazards Map was completed in April of 2007. This project was funded by the city of Galveston with a portion of the general mapping supported by the STATEMAP component of the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping program administered by the U.S. Geologic Survey. Earlier support to develop datasets incorporated in this map come from the Texas General Land Office, NOAA and Galveston Bay Estuary Program.

The South Padre Island Geohazards Map is funded as part of the Texas Coastal Coordination Council, pursuant of the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration.

The Mustang and North Padre Islands Geohazards map was developed thanks to the funding provided the Coastal Bend Bays Estuary Program and the Texas General Land Office.

    Links:    Geohazards  

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