Enhanced 3D Mapping for Habitat, Biodiversity, and Flood Hazard Assessments of Coastal and Wetland Areas of the Southern U.S. (3D Wetlands Spoke)

Principal Investigator

The vision of the three-dimensional (3D) Wetlands Spoke is that communities and industry occupying low-lying coastal areas of the southern US will be protected and develop in a sustainable manner by planning based on knowledge, conservation, and wise use of sensitive lands.

The geographic scope of the project is the coastal floodplain from Texas to Florida. The mission is to update topographic and land cover maps for this region (>165x103 km2) and improve the capacity of regional planners, resource managers, and emergency responders to assess flood risk and to plan for conservation of sensitive habitats. This will be accomplished in collaboration with the South Big Data (BD) Hub. Ultimately, the project would function as a Spoke of the South DB Hub.

The 3D Wetlands Spoke will develop a set of geospatial products including improved and merged topographic, land cover, and urban scape maps of the south states within 50 km of the coast. The maps will be constructed from detailed historical airborne LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) collections merged with high spatial resolution (<2 m pixel) multispectral commercial satellite imagery. The BD Spoke will use previously developed, peer-reviewed in-house algorithms for automated land cover classification of existing satellite imagery and airborne LiDAR data. Prototype 3-D models of the built and coastal environment will also be obtained by Structure-from-Motion (SfM) techniques applied using dedicated acquisitions in Tampa and St. Petersburg (Florida), Corpus Christi (Texas), and at least one undeveloped coastal wetland. These areas were all heavily affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in 2017.

The high-resolution 3D land cover maps will complement the land cover maps updated periodically by the Coastal Change Analysis Program (C-CAP) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Office for Coastal Management Digital Coast program. The 3D Wetlands Spoke maps will be compatible with the traditional land cover classification maps, but at 200 to 900-times the spatial resolution of the official C-CAP product. They also will complement the high-resolution C-CAP maps planned based on historical airborne imagery. All products will be distributed openly.