An Automated System for Integrating GIS with Video Images of the Ocean Floor

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Project Type: 
Inception Date: 
Completion Date: 
Theme Area: 
Coastal Ecosystem and Public Health


Winsor Watson UNH - Department of Biological Sciences Principal Investigator

Students Involved:

Randy Cutter UNH - Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping
Darren Scopel UNH - Department of Biological Sciences

This project will be a collaborative effort between UNH College of Life Sciences and Agriculture marine biologists and members of the UNH Ocean Mapping Group. Our overall goal is to develop a method that will allow scientists to produce high-quality digital video maps of the ocean floor that are geo-referenced for incorporation into a GIS database.

Although it is currently possible to collect video transects of the ocean floor, it is very difficult to obtain complete coverage of a given area and accurately reference the video images to GPS coordinates. If the video images cannot be linked to GPS coordinates, then we will not be able to integrate all our data into one GIS database. This long-term goal will require a much larger investment than we are requesting for this development project.

Currently, we plan to simply develop appropriate methods that will allow us to overcome some of the existing obstacles and then demonstrate the feasibility and utility of our approach. While the system we are planning to develop will have many applications, at UNH our most immediate needs fall into two categories:

1) By integrating video maps with side-scan sonar maps, it will be possible to identify sonar signatures for specific micro- and macro-habitats. Once this calibration is achieved, it will greatly facilitate our ability to quantify the distribution and abundance of a wide variety of marine flora and fauna

2) By integrating these "real-world" maps of the ocean floor with sonar tracks of species in the same area, we will be better able to understand how specific features of the benthic habitat influence the movements of mobile species