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Advancing the Application of Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Processing for Coastal Aquatic Ecosystems Studies

Fisheries and Oceans Canada provided $50,000 via the Partnership Fund to support this project by the Applied Geomatics Research Group (AGRG) at Nova Scotia Community College. In the relatively shallow, turbid waters of temperate estuarine ecosystems, conventional remote sensing tools have difficulty measuring physical and biological features that are of ecological significance at bay-scale. The AGRG has been collecting topographic-bathymetric LIDAR data in the Gulf of St. Lawrence since 2014, which has been used to produce a variety of products including digital elevation models, aerial mosaics, and eelgrass distribution maps.

This project will build on research into enhanced methods of bottom mapping using a lidar-camera sensor package. LIDAR is a method of measuring distances remotely using a pulsed laser, and the acronym LIDAR is short for "light detection and ranging". The goal is to expand the techniques available to differentiate between types of vegetation (e.g., eelgrass, rockweed, and sea lettuce) and substrate that could be related to species distribution. This cutting-edge technology shows potential for enabling scientists to undertake more targeted ground truth efforts.

This initiative will enable AGRG to increase the capacity and accuracy of mapping coastal aquatic ecosystem features. Expected results include:

  • Improved mapping accuracy for estimating submerged aquatic vegetation coverage, specifically eelgrass;
  • Development of methods for differentiating between types of vegetation and seabed features, and for classifying coastal features;
  • Improved methods for processing and analyzing aerial photography.

Project number: Gulf 2016.21-1.7
Year: 2016
Partner(s): Applied Geomatics Research Group (AGRG), Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS), Nova Scotia Community College
Lead: Dr. Tim Webster
Ecoregion: Gulf of St. Lawrence

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