Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Derivation of near-shore bathymetry from multispectral satellite imagery used in a coastal terrain model for the topographic analysis of human influence on coral reefs

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  • The analysis of material and energy exchange between the marine and terrestrial components of island ecosystems enables research into the impact of human population and land use on the health of coral reef habitat. Satellite and acoustic remote sensing technologies enable the collection of data to produce high resolution bathymetry for integration with terrestrial digital elevation models (DEMs) into coastal terrain models. An integrated terrain surface that incorporates the land-sea interface, grounded by a geographic information system, is a powerful analytical tool for geomorphic studies of watersheds and coastal processes. The island of Tutuila, American Samoa is an ideal case study due to its high relief terrain, data availability and local interest in impacts to coral reef resources. The Tutuila model integrates a USGS DEM, multibeam bathymetry from 15 to 500 m and near shore bathymetric data from 0 to 15 m derived from IKONOS satellite imagery. The high spatial resolution of IKONOS imagery is suitable for detection of features with subtle relief and intricate structure. Shallow water bathymetry is derived by quantifying the relative attenuation of blue and green spectral band radiance as a function of depth. The procedure used to derive bathymetry, Lyzenga (1985), is identified as the most effective of several proposed in the recent literature. The product is error-checked using control points extracted from multibeam sonar data and collected during recent field surveys, as well as terrain profiles. The coastal terrain model provides morphological detail of fine resolution and high accuracy for terrain and land use analysis to enhance the study of ecosystem interconnectivity and the effects of anthropogenic inputs to coral reef habitats. Subsequent topographic analyses of the Tutuila model use drainage patterns to identify contiguous marine/terrestrial basins within which the marine environment is most directly impacted by land use through freshwater inputs from affiliated catchments. Human population density serves as an indicator of intensified land use and urbanization, which has been shown to increase pathogen and sediment loads in runoff, while percent coral cover, coral colony density and coral genera diversity are used as indicators of reef health. Spatiotemporal correlation analyses of population density against the three reef health indices within each of the marine/terrestrial basins reveal a decline in reef health associated with increased population density. This paper integrates and builds upon established methods of satellite imagery analysis and terrain modeling to create the Tutuila coastal terrain model and uses it to refine the scale of other studies linking human terrestrial activities to the physical condition of coral reefs.
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