EarthWorks Geospatial Catalog

Eelgrass Areas New Hampshire 2010

This polygon dataset shows the areas where eelgrass was observed in the Great Bay Estuary based on low-altitude aerial surveillance in 2010. The study area includes the following waterbodies: Great Bay, the mouth of the Squamscott River, the tidal portion of the Lamprey River, the tidal portion of the Oyster River, the tidal portion of the Bellamy River, the Piscataqua River and Portsmouth Harbor and its associated creeks. Aerial photographs are taken of the study area at 3000 feet at low spring tide with roughly 60% overlap on a calm day without preceding rain events and when the sun is at a low angle to minimize reflection (between 7 am and 10 am). Photographs are taken in late summer, usually late August or early September, depending on tides and weather, to reflect the maximum eelgrass annual biomass. 35 mm film (ASA 200) or a digital camera is used to acquire the images. Typically 300 images are needed to cover the entire Great Bay Estuary. The orientation of the photographs is near-vertical. This is a slight deviation from the NOAA Coastal Change Analysis Program protocol, but follows a published method (Short and Burdick, 1986). The photographs, in the form of 35mm slides or digital computer images, are projected on a screen and the eelgrass images are transferred to a base map. These maps are then digitized using GIS software. The eelgrass habitat mapped from the aerial imagery is verified using the ground truthing data by placing the ground-truthing locations onto the digital image using GIS software. Ground-truthing is done from a small boat during the same season as the photographs are taken. Ground-truth observations are made at low tide. Samples are collected with an eelgrass sampling hook. Positions are determined using GPS. The ground-truth surveys assess 10-20% of the eelgrass beds mapped in the estuary. The aerial survey is completed yearly. The first survey in the series was completed in 1986. Note that yearly variations in collection methods exist. Following is a summary of methods that have been used.
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