2013 Progress Report: Ecological Assessment of Generalized Littoral Environments Decision-Support System (EAGLE/OS)

EPA Grant Number: R835193
Title: Ecological Assessment of Generalized Littoral Environments Decision-Support System (EAGLE/OS)
Investigators: Muller-Karger, Frank Edgar , McCarthy, Matthew , Mendez-Lazaro, Pablo , Otis, Daniel
Current Investigators: Muller-Karger, Frank Edgar , Chen, F. Robert , McCarthy, Matthew , Mendez-Lazaro, Pablo , Otis, Daniel
Institution: University of South Florida
Current Institution: University of South Florida , University of Puerto Rico - Medical Sciences Campus
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: June 1, 2012 through August 14, 2014 (Extended to May 31, 2016)
Project Period Covered by this Report: June 1, 2013 through May 31,2014
Project Amount: $750,000
RFA: Extreme Event Impacts on Air Quality and Water Quality with a Changing Global Climate (2011) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air Quality and Air Toxics , Water Quality , Climate Change , Air , Water


The objective of this project is to assess historical changes in the major estuaries of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and U.S. Territories in the Caribbean Sea based on instrument records of precipitation, water and air temperature, storm intensity and frequency, wind speed and direction, precipitation, river discharge, nutrient and sediment loading, and water level records. These records will be analyzed in the context of high spatial resolution, repeated, frequent synoptic satellite-based observations of water clarity made over the last 10-15 years. A decision-support system will be created to provide scientists, managers and the general public with up to date information on water quality within estuaries in the study area.

Progress Summary:

During the first year of this project, observations of meteorological variables for the watersheds of each of the estuaries considered were collected. This includes air and water temperature, wind speed and direction, and precipitation, along with tidal (water level) data. Meteorological data were obtained from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and river discharge data were obtained from the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Data with the longest possible data records were obtained in each of the eight estuaries that are the focus of this study.

Within each estuary, in-situ water quality observations were obtained to assess water quality trends and validate satellite-derived turbidity products. These data, which include monthly observations of parameters related to water clarity, such as turbidity, chlorophyll concentration, total suspended solids, and Secchi disk depth, were obtained from a variety of sources, including National Estuary Program (NEP) offices in each estuary, state and local environmental agencies, local water utilities, and the USGS and EPA. 

Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) ocean color images were processed and extracted for locations in each estuary where in-situ water quality observations exist. Time-series of remote-sensing reflectance at 645 nm [Rrs(645)] with a spatial resolution of 250 m have been constructed for the refinement of algorithms to estimate water clarity using satellite measurements. Using these time-series, a turbidity product suitable for coastal areas has been developed and validated with in-situ measurements. The turbidity product has been used to quantify plumes of highly turbid water advected from coastal regions of the island of Puerto Rico.

Land cover data were downloaded from two sources:  (1) the USGS Enhanced Historical Land-Use and Land-Cover Data Sets, and (2) the NOAA Coastal Change Analysis Program (C-CAP). Both sources have a spatial resolution of 30 meters. A relationship between land cover, meteorological parameters and water quality in Tampa Bay has been found and is under further investigation.

Climate data records from the National Climate Data Center (NCDC) have undergone rigorous quality control to establish the best long-term data records to use in the analysis of long-term trends and anomalous events.

We have been working actively with Ross Lunetta and Blake Shaeffer at EPA to implement these satellite data products in a prototype water quality website and in a separate mobile application. The initial website will cover Puerto Rico. The Android app is being planned for national coverage. 

Future Activities:

During the next year of this project, we will be focused on completing a full statistical analysis of the time-series data, as well as identifying and quantifying extreme events in the time-series. The MODIS turbidity will be used to generate time-series of water quality in all the estuaries of the Gulf of Mexico. We plan to meet with managers, end-users and other stakeholders to assess which data records should be used in the decision-support tool and web portal being developed by the EPA to disseminate data products. Hindcast satellite products will be tested against known events in each estuary in order to refine and validate our algorithms. We also will prepare publications of our initial findings, attend the Fall AGU meeting in December 2014, and document our progress in annual reports.

Journal Articles on this Report : 2 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 7 publications 3 publications in selected types All 3 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Mendez-Lazaro P, Muller-Karger FE, Otis D, McCarthy MJ, Pena-Orellana M. Assessing climate variability effects on dengue incidence in San Juan, Puerto Rico. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2014;11(9):9409-9428. R835193 (2013)
R835193 (2014)
R835193 (Final)
  • Full-text from PubMed
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Associated PubMed link
  • Full-text: MDPI-Full Text PDF
  • Abstract: MDPI-Abstract & Full Text HTML
  • Journal Article McCarthy MJ, Merton EJ, Muller-Karger FE. Improved coastal wetland mapping using very-high 2-meter spatial resolution imagery. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 2015;40:11-18. R835193 (2013)
  • Full-text: University of South Florida-Full Text PDF
  • Abstract: ScienceDirect-Abstract
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    water quality, climate change, environmental variability, turbidity, particulate matter, red tides, harmful algal blooms, satellite remote sensing, land use;

    Relevant Websites:

    Institute for Marine Remote Sensing at USF's College of Marine science Exit

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2012 Progress Report
  • 2014 Progress Report
  • Final Report