Developing New Technologies and Management Strategies
to Improve Coastal Ecosystem Health
The University of Delaware Sea Grant College Program recently received,
through a competitive proposal process, a special enhancement award
from the National Sea Grant College Program to develop emerging
technologies that coastal managers can use to assess and improve
the health of the Delaware Estuary, Delaware's Inland Bays, and
Delaware's National Estuarine Research Reserves.
As a way of sharing information about the project, we welcome you
to the first issue of The Coastal Courier. This newsletter is designed
to highlight major research results and present new developments
of interest to the coastal resource management community. For more
information or to suggest a future article, please contact me at
(302) 831-8185 or via e-mail at Tracey.Bryant@mvs.udel. edu. I look
forward to hearing from you. - Tracey Bryant, Editor
Coastal resource managers face tremendous challenges. How can they
take the pulse of an ecosystem as vast as the Delaware Bay, correctly
diagnose its problems, and then prescribe the right course of action
that will re-sult in teeming fisheries, lush marshes filled with
wildlife, wide, clean beach-es, and other features we associate
with a healthy coastal environment?
The goal of the Coastal Ecosystem Health Project recently initiated
by the University of Delaware Sea Grant College Program is to develop
useful, new technologies for monitoring and improving coastal ecosystems
and to then transfer these diagnostic tools to the people who can
put them to work for the environment - coastal resource managers.
Led by Vic Klemas, professor of applied ocean science, and Robert
Knecht, professor of marine policy, the project brings together
an interdisciplinary team of experts in satellite remote sensing,
ocean acoustics, oceanography, marine policy, education, and communications
from the University of Delaware College of Marine and Earth Studies
and Sea Grant College Program, with critical input from a Managers'
Advisory Committee comprising representatives from the Center for
the Inland Bays, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental
Control, the Delaware Estuary Program, and other coastal resource
management programs in Delaware.
The special initiative is organized into three components. The
first research group includes Dr. Vic Klemas, Dr. Richard Field,
Ph.D. student Oliver Weatherbee, and M.S. student Allison Bailey.
Their goal is to integrate land cover data gathered by satellites
with other environmental indicators to create a computerized Geographic
Information System (GIS)for assessing wetlands health. With its
rich layers of data, the GIS shouldhelp managers more easily assess
changes in land use affecting wetlands, from encroachment by urban
development, to invasion by the nuisance plant Phragmites australis.
The second research group, including Dr. Xiao Hai-Yan, Dr. Mohsen
Badiey, Dr. Kuo-Chuin Wong, Dr. Quanan Zheng, and Ph.D. student
Louis Keiner, seeks to develop a remote sensing observing system
that will enable managers to view an entire ecosystem and monitor
its changes. The system will include data on water temperature and
salinity, suspended sediments, primary production, surface and nearshore
waves, tidal flow and freshwater discharge, and other parameters
derived from satellite images, space shuttle photographs, acoustics
profilers, and other sources.
The third team, of Dr. Biliana Cicin-Sain, Professor Robert Knecht,
Dr. Kent Price, Marine Advisory Service specialist Joseph Farrell,
communications coordinator Tracey Bryant, and master of marine policy
students Deborah Goldstein, Stephanie Poole, and Suzanna Delgado,
is involving coastal resource managers as full partners in the effort,
by communicating with them to learn more about their information
needs. This collaboration will not only ensure the usefulness of
the techniques the project team develops but also will advance new
regional partnerships toward integrated coastal management with
special emphasis on non-point source pollution control.
By forging a strong alliance among scientists, policy experts,
and coastal managers, Delaware may become a model for other regions
to follow as our nation strives to improve our coastal ecosystems.
Assessing Coastal Wetland Health and Land Cover
Change in the Delaware Bay Watershed
Project Team: Vic Klemas, Richard Field, Oliver Weatherbee, and
Editor's Note: The goal of this research group, led by Vic Klemas,
professor of applied ocean science, is to develop a Geographic Information
System (GIS) for assessing wetlands health. As reported by master's
student Allison Bailey, the group has made the following progress
during the past several months.
Satellite Image Processing and Analysis. Our group has acquired
Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) scenes covering the Delaware Bay study
area for the following dates: September 12, 1984; June 12, 1988;
July 4, 1988; July 4, 1990; May 4, 1991; and July 28, 1993. Before
these satellite images can be used for wetland and land cover detection
and analysis, however, they must be "pre-processed." Doctoral student
Oliver Weatherbee has completed pre-processing of all images, which
includes (1) geometric registration - correcting spatial characteristics
of the images and assigning them "real world" coordinates so that
they can be overlaid on each other and on other maps; and (2) radiometric
normalization - systematically adjusting the spectral data of all
images based on the image that has the least amount of haze or atmospheric
interference. This step is needed for reliable comparison of the
spectral data between images.
Oliver's next step is to process the most recent image (July 28,
1993) to upland and wetland land cover classes according to the
classification system used for the NOAA Coastwatch Change Analysis
Program (C-CAP). Under the C-CAP system, the upland classes, for
example, range from developed land to cultivated land, grassland,
woody land, bare land, tundra, snow/ice. In addition, he will create
a map of the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) for the
salt-marsh areas in the image. This index, based on leaf reflectance
values, serves as an indicator of the vigor, and thus health, of
the salt-marsh vegetation.
The processing for the 1993 image will be completed within the
next month or two. Once this step is completed, Oliver will process
the remaining images in the same way. We will then be able to assess
the change in land cover over the past ten years and look for relationships
between land cover and coastal wetland health.
Water-Quality Measurements. Dave Carter, Environmental Program
Manager for the Delaware Coastal Management Program, and his team
at DNREC have initiated a project to assess non-point pollution
management practices on and adjacent to Delaware's National Estuarine
Research Reserve (NERR) sites at Blackbird Creek and the St. Jones
River. This effort includes mea-surements of water-quality parameters
from several locations along Blackbird Creek, the Appoquinimink
River, and the St. Jones River. An automated sampler and data logger
records specific conductivity, salinity, percent saturation, dissolved
oxygen, temperature, pH, and water level every half hour. Richard
Field and Allison Bailey are providing assistance to the project
by maintaining and calibrating the instruments at Blackbird Creek
and the Appoquinimink River and downloading the data from these
instruments to a computer every two weeks. These measurements will
help us identify correlations between pollution from upland runoff
and wetland health. They will also provide data to determine "background"
levels of pollutants from sites such as Blackbird Creek that are
not strongly impacted by anthropogenic pollution sources.
To see examples of the water-quality data already collected for
this project and a more detailed description of the data collection
methods, please visit this site on the World Wide Web: http://inlet.geol.sc.edu/delprod.html.
This Web site can also be found through the National Estuarine Research
Reserve (NERR) Centralized Data Management Office home page at http://inlet.geol.
Wetland Health Indicators: Collaboration. Allison Bailey and Vic
Klemas have been communicating with two scientists from the EPA
in Rhode Island about their interest in developing health and integrity
measures for coastal wetland plants such as Spartina alterniflora
(smooth cordgrass). They are focusing on the use of spectral measurements
- in the lab, in the field, and from an aircraft - to assess the
physiological status of these plants. For example, can they determine
the rate or efficiency of photosynthesis of a particular coastal
wetland plant using spectral measurements? These scientists are
very interested in collaborating with our group and are willing
to use the NERR sites in Delaware as test sites for their project.
We are eager to work with them to continue to develop indicators
of wetland health, in addition to biomass, that can be measured
by remote sensing methods.
Research Presentation and Question-and-Answer Session with Delaware
State Agencies. On November 29, 1995, at the Department of Natural
Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) in Dover, Vic Klemas
and Oliver Weatherbee made presentations on the Delaware NERR and
Coastal Ecosystem Health projects to representatives of state and
federal agencies involved in regional environmental programs. Among
the 26 attendees were ecosystem specialists and data managers from
DNREC, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, EPA, the Delaware Estuary
Program, and the Center for the Inland Bays. The presentations were
followed by a vigorous discussion of data requirements and processing
needs. Due to the success of this meeting, we plan to repeat it
at least once a year.
Using Satellite Remote Sensing to Determine Trends
in Delaware Bay's Surface Temperature
Project Team: Xiao-Hai Yan, Mohsen Badiey,Kuo-Chuin Wong, Quanan
Zheng, and Louis Keiner
Editor's Note: The goal of this research group, led by Xiao-Hai
Yan, professor of applied ocean science, is to develop a remote
sensing system for monitoring coastal water quality. The following
report, by doctoral student Louis Keiner, summarizes the group's
progress to date.
Using data from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR)
sensor onboard NOAA's polar-orbiting satellites, we have been studying
the patterns and trends in the sea-surface temperature (SST) of
Delaware Bay and the adjoining coastal ocean. We obtained three
years of AVHRR images, from 1992?95, through the NOAA CoastWatch
program, which provides public domain satellite data of the na-tion's
coast to researchers at no charge.
The images obtained from NOAA, which numbered around 900, were
screened for cloud cover and geographically referenced to a standard
map. Finally, a Delaware Bay sub-image was selected for use in the
study. Because of the high number of cloudy days over Delaware Bay,
fewer than half of the initially downloaded images were usable.
The remaining images were averaged by month to create a regular
time series. Empirical Orthogonal Function (EOF) analysis was performed
on the time series. EOF analysis decomposes a time series into its
component modes, breaking up a complicated signal into identifiable
parts for study.
The analysis revealed the seasonal heating cycle and the patterns
of subtidal estuarine circulation in Delaware Bay. EOF analysis
provides the spatial pattern of each mode, its temporal oscillation,
and relative strength (see Figure 1). In Delaware Bay, the solar
heating cycle (top left) accounts for over 90% of the annual temperature
oscillation. Monitoring of this cycle over many years is needed
to reveal the long-term trend in water temperatures in the bay,
which is important in determining the bay's future biological productivity.
The subtidal estuarine circulation was found to be of modified gravitational
form, with the influx of ocean water flowing up the deeper center
of the bay, with the outflow occurring along both shallower sides
of the bay. The determination of these circulation patterns is important
in predicting the path of waterborne pollutants from both point
and non-point sources.
These results have been submitted to the IEEE Transactions
on Geoscience and Remote Sensing and were presented at the spring
meeting of the American Geophysical Union. The other two studies
in this project - the monitoring of sediments and chlorophyll in
the bay and the monitoring of the dynamic flux of the bay-will be
presented in a future Coastal Courier.
Management Analysis and Outreach: Building Partnerships
to Improve Coastal Resources
Project Team: Biliana Cicin-Sain, Robert Knecht, Kent Price, Joseph
Farrell, Tracey Bryant, Stephanie Poole, Deborah Goldstein, and
Editor's Note: The goal of this research group, led by Dr. Biliana
Cicin-Sain, is to establish open lines of communication between
project team members and coastal resource managers to ensure the
usefulness of the techniques developed in the Coastal Ecosystem
Health Project and to promote integrated coastal resource management.
The following progress report was prepared by master of marine policy
student Stephanie Poole.
Managers' Advisory Committee Formed. The first meeting of the Managers'
Advisory Committee was held November 13, 1995, in Dover. This committee
includes representatives from coastal management programs throughout
Delaware and was formed to provide critical input to the research
and policy components of the Coastal Ecosystem Health Project. Members
currently include Sarah Cooksey, manager, Delaware Coastal Management
Program, DNREC; Bruce Richards, executive director, Center for the
Inland Bays; John Schneider, manager, Watershed Assessment Section,
Division of Water Resources, DNREC (and former administrator of
the Inland Bays Estuary Program); and Bob Zimmerman, environmental
program administrator, DNREC (and member of the Delaware Estuary
Program Management Committee).
The Managers' Advisory Committee will facilitate the integration
of new data and techniques developed by Coastal Ecosystem Health
Project investigators into current management practices and provide
needed feedback to project researchers regarding the usefulness
of the environmental indicators being measured. Thus, the committee
will serve as a vital conduit between the coastal resource management
community and project researchers.
The next Managers' Advisory Committee meeting is scheduled for
Assessing Resource Managers' Needs. Currently, Joe Farrell, Tracey
Bryant, Stephanie Poole, and Allison Bailey are interviewing environmental
managers regarding their management and information activities and
needs. So far, members of the group have met with Kevin Donnelly,
administrator, Delaware Conservation Districts; Nancy Goggin, non-point
source coordinator; Jenny McDermott, environmental scientist, Non-Point
Source Program; Steve Williams, coordinator, Whole Basin Management
Program; Paul Petrechenko, director, Natural Resources Conservation
Service, and Connie Holland, director, and Kevin Coyle, assistant
director, Kent County Office of Planning. Additional interviews
are scheduled for the near future, with completion of the effort
scheduled for late summer. A report will be compiled after the interviews
are completed, providing an overview of the data and institutional
needs of the managers of Delaware's coastal resources.
Research Activities. Several other activities have been undertaken
by members of the outreach team. For example, graduate student Deborah
Goldstein has developed a report on ecosystem health which will
be used as a guidance document for project researchers. Deborah
also spent one day a week during the spring 1996 semester at DNREC's
Coastal Management Program office in Dover. The purpose of her internship
was to learn as much as possible about the state program firsthand
and, by working with program manager Sarah Cooksey, to gain better
insight into how the Coastal Ecosystem Health Project may interface
with the Coastal Management Program.
Additionally, graduate student Stephanie Poole has gathered information
on four case studies relevant to the Coastal Ecosystem Health Project
and will compile a chart documenting elements of adaptive and integrated
management for non-point source pollution control within each study.
Literature reviews on adaptive and integrated management have been
completed and will be used in reviewing the effectiveness of non-point
source pollution controls in Delaware. Graduate student Suzanna
Delgado will continue to gather non-point source control plans from
other coastal states in order to do a comparative analysis.
Delmarva's Coastal Bay Watersheds. Dr. Kent Price, in his roles
as chairman of the board of the Center for the Inland Bays, director
of the Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service, and a member of the Coastal
Ecosystem Health Project team, facilitated the development of "Delmarva's
Coastal Bay Watersheds: Not Yet Up the Creek," a re-gional conference
held March 8?9 in Ocean City, Maryland. Tracey Bryant assisted with
conference publicity through a public education and outreach grant
from the Center for the Inland Bays, one of the conference's co-sponsors,
and both Joseph Farrell and Stephanie Poole attended the conference.
This event provided a forum for 200 citizens, elected and appointed
officials, and other decision makers and special interest representatives
to discuss the economic and environmental status of Delmarva's coastal
bay watersheds, from Delaware's Inland Bays to Virginia's Chincoteague
Bay. The conference helped establish a dialogue among representatives
from the states of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, who are now
planning management strategies on a regional level. As one step
toward accomplishing regional management, the three states have
begun working together to implement the Maryland Coastal Bays National
Estuary Program. The states will also work together to establish
an estuary program in Virginia. For a copy of the conference proceedings,
please contact the Center for the Inland Bays at (302) 645-7325.
Center for the Inland Bays: Goals & Objectives
The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays was established as a non-profit
organization in 1994 under the Inland Bays Watershed Enhancement
Act (Chapter 76, Section 7603, Delaware Code). The center's mission
is to oversee the implementation of the Inland Bays Comprehensive
Conservation and Management Plan and to facilitate a long-term approach
for the wise use and enhancement of the Inland Bays watershed by
conducting public education, developing and implementing conservation
projects, and establishing a long-term process for preservation
of the Inland Bays watershed.
The center's goals are as follows:
(1) To sponsor and support educational activities,
restoration efforts, and land acquisition pro- grams that lead to
the preservation and enhancement of the Inland Bays watershed.
(2) To build, maintain, and foster a strong partner- ship among
the general public, the private sector, and local, state,
and federal govern- ments, which is essential for establishing
and sustaining policy, programs, and the political will
to preserve and restore the resources of the Inland Bays watershed.
(3) To serve as a neutral forum where Inland Bays watershed
issues may be analyzed and consid- ered for the purposes of providing
responsible officials and the public with a basis for making
informed decisions concerning the manage- ment of the resources
of the watershed.
Meet Our Coastal Managers:
Dr. Bruce Richards, Executive Director, Center for the Inland Bays
by Tracey Bryant
Excessive nutrients and loss of wildlife habitat are the chief
environmental problems plaguing Rehoboth, Indian River, and Little
Assawoman bays-Delaware's Inland Bays-according to the Inland Bays
Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan developed recently
by citizens, local governments, scientists, and resource managers.
The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is now taking aim at these
problems through a series of demonstration projects. The ultimate
goal of this work is to improve the health of the bays and promote
their wise use in the future, according to Bruce Richards, executive
director of the center.
"Delaware's Inland Bays are priceless resources that provide an
abundance of benefits to Delawareans as well as thousands of tourists
who visit this area each year," says Richards. "The center's goal
is to work cooperatively with people from all walks of life who
hold a stake in the bays' future - from farmers and citizen groups,
to state and county agencies, local municipalities, educators, and
scientists - to enlist their support in reducing nutrient overloads
and habitat loss in the Inland Bays and the surrounding watershed."
A Delaware native with a Ph.D. in agricultural and extension education,
Richards came onboard as the center's executive director last October.
Since then, he has established the non-profit organization's home
at Red Mill Center near Lewes, begun meeting with local residents
and agencies to inform them of the center's goals, initiated efforts
to secure funding for the center and its activities from federal
and state agencies and private foundations, and currently is administering
the following demonstration projects, which are supported by a grant
from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Nutrient Reduction. The nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus found
in fertilizer, sewage, runoff, and other sources are reaching the
Inland Bays in excessive quantities and harming the estuary's living
resources. John Martin, associate professor of animal and food sciences,
University of Delaware College of Agricultural Sciences, and Joseph
Farrell, marine resource management specialist, University of Delaware
Sea Grant College Program, are working to develop nitrogen and phosphorus
mass balances, or budgets, for agricultural activities in the watershed.
This task is a critical first step in the design of future nutrient
reduction efforts. Satellite imagery will be used to determine cropland
estimates in the watershed. Current estimates of poultry production
activities are being updated and refined.
Chlorophyll Meter Demonstration. Chlorophyll-the green pigment
that gives most plants their color and enables them to make food-is
an indicator of a plant's nutritional status. Thus, the amount of
chlorophyll a plant contains can tell us whether it needs more nitrogen
fertilizer, or if it does not. The Sussex Conservation District
is demonstrating to farmers in the watershed how a hand-held meter
can be used to quickly measure the amount of chlorophyll in crops.
The goal is to identify a useful, inexpensive tool that will help
farmers establish or amend their fertilizer management program,
an important component of each farm's nutrient management plan.
Aquatic Habitat Restoration. The goal of this project, led by Ben
Anderson, environmental scientist in the Division of Water Resources,
DNREC, is to re-establish eelgrass and other submerged aquatic vegetation
to provide habitat for fish and shellfish in the Inland Bays. In
fall 1995, more than 12,000 plants were harvested from Chincoteague
Bay, Virginia, and transplanted in Savage's Ditch in Rehoboth Bay.
The plants' status is being monitored and evaluated by DNREC staff
and volunteers from the Inland Bays Citizen Monitoring Program.
Water-Quality Monitoring. In this project, John Schneider, a program
manager in the Division of Water Resources, DNREC, and other Division
staff are evaluating water-quality conditions in relation to the
success or failure of efforts to re-establish submerged aquatic
vegetation such as eelgrass in the bays and tracking the status
and trends in environmental indicators of eutrophication (nutrient
overenrichment) and habitat loss. A major goal is to integrate the
acquired by the Inland Bays Citizen Monitoring Program with DNREC's
water quality data.
Public Outreach and Education. Tracey Bryant, marine outreach coordinator
in the Marine Communications Office, University of Delaware Sea
Grant College Program and College of Marine and Earth Studies, is
working with the center's staff to launch a public education program
to encourage residents and visitors to become stewards of the bays.
Projects include press releases, photography of bay activities,
a full-color art poster to increase awareness and appreciation of
the bays, and an interpretive sign of the Inland Bays watershed
for the Environmental Learning Center at Lord Baltimore Elementary
School in Ocean View.
Farmland Preservation. The goal of this project, led by Michael
McGrath, manager, and Lisa Ralph-Williams, planner, of the Agricultural
Lands Preservation Foundation, Delaware Department of Agriculture,
is to preserve forest and farmland - and the needed wildlife habitat,
open space, water recharge areas, buffer areas, and air cleansing
capacity they provide - by creating Farmland Preservation Districts
and Agricultural Easements. Nearly 2,000 property owners in the
Inland Bays watershed have been contacted to inform them of the
project's goals and the benefits of preserving their land. Follow-up
discussions with interested property owners are under way.
The Center for the Inland Bays is a non-profit organization governed
by a board of directors. Chairman of the board is Kent Price, associate
professor of marine biology-biochemistry, at the University of Delaware
College of Marine and Earth Studies, who also serves as chairman
of the center's Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee. Board
members include James Alderman, chairman of the Citizens Advisory
Committee, and his vice-chair, Grace Pierce-Beck, conservation director,
Delaware Audubon Society; Jack Tarburton, Secretary of the Department
of Agriculture, and his alternate, Ed Ralph; Christophe Tulou, Secretary
of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control,
and his alternate, Gerard Esposito; James Falk, vice-chair of the
Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee; Greg McCabe, representative
of the Sussex Conservation District, and his alternate, Eric Buehl;
John Johnson, representative of the Sussex County Association of
Towns, and his alternate, Matthew Falls; Robert Stickels, administrator,
Sussex County Council, and his alternate, Lawrence Lank; Danny Magee,
the appointee of the President Pro-Tem of the Delaware State Senate,
Richard S. Cordrey; and Pat Campbell-White, the appointee of the
Speaker of the Delaware State House of Representatives, Terry R.
Spence. Ex-officio members include Charles App, representative of
the Environmental Protection Agency, and his alternate, Jim Butch.
The board meets quarterly; the public is welcome to attend.
For more information about the Center for the Inland Bays, please
contact Bruce Richards, executive director, at (302) 645-7325. The
center is located at Suite 125, Red Mill Center, 467 Highway 1,
Nassau, DE 19969.