• Red Rocks with water in front of them in the desert.
  • Clouds behind Joshua Tree and bushes.
  • Desert flowers blooming in bushes in front of mountains in the desert.
  • Setting sun reflecting of clouds of orange and blue behind a joshua tree.
  • Hoover Dam intake towers with water behind the dam showing that it is not full.

2011 SCIENCE PROJECTS

Remote Acquisition of High Quality Topography (LiDaR) and Multispectral Imagery Data for the Rio Grande through Big Bend National Park: A Critical Need for Climate Change Mitigation Planning

Science Need

Assessing and evaluating natural or cultural resources management practices and adaptation opportunities.

Grantee:  World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
Principle Investigators: Mark Briggs (Chihuahuan Desert Program, WWF), Jeff Bennett (Big Bend National Park), David Dean (Utah State University), Aimee Roberson (US Fish and Wildlife Service), Dr. Jack Schmidt (USGS, Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center), Joe Sirotnak (Big Bend National Park), and Kevin Urbanczyk (Sul Ross State University and Basin and Bay Expert Science Team)
Cooperative Agreement:  $170,083  in non-Federal funds and $170,083 in Federal funds provided by Bureau of Reclamation
Project Duration: 2011-2013

Project Goal

Use LiDaR imagery to generate vegetation maps and terrain models for the 100-mile reach of the Rio Grande through Big Bend National Park and combine information with one-dimensional flow routing model and monitoring of tributary sediment to enhance ability to quantify future geomorphic and riparian vegetation changes, assess flood risk, evaluate habitat for key species, formulate climate-adapted responses and evaluate exotic plan eradication efforts.

Brief Project Description

In response to the rapid and dramatic hydroecological deterioration of the Rio Grande through Big Bend, the Big Bend Conservation Cooperative (BBCC) – a multi-disciplinary group of natural resource agencies, research institutions, and conservation organizations – have been organizing and implementing a wide range of river rehabilitation, scientific research activities and climate change initiative’s.  More recently, the Basin and Bay Expert Science Team – part of an environmental flow initiative by the state of Texas – is using best available science to recommend environmental flow regimes for the major rivers of Texas.  Limited understating of the sediment dynamics of the Rio Grande and riparian vegetation change hinders river management as well as understanding of the effectiveness of rehabilitation activities and how the river will be affected by climate change.   This project will use aerial-based Light Detecting and Ranging (LiDaR) and multispectral imagery to generate baseline topographic, near-channel vegetation data (maps) and extremely accurate terrain models.  This information will be combined with a one-dimensional flow routing model recently developed by Utah State University and the USGS and a program to monitor tributary sediment input to enhance the ability to quantify future geomorphic and riparian changes, as well as investigate sediment transport, evacuation, and storage under a variety of flow scenarios.

Project Location

Rio Grande River through Big Bend National Park, Texas

Project Tasks

  1. 1. Acquire LiDaR data over 100 mile reach of the Rio Grande River
  2. 2. Acquire high-resolution short wave (green, red, and near infrared) and LiDaR data with the USU airborne multispectral digital system and the LASSI system over 50 mile reaches of the Rio Grande River

Project Deliverables

  1. LiDaR point cloud data that is classified and colorized with rgb values, including classification for bare earth, low vegetation, high vegetation and structures (if any)
  2. Color ortho image mosaic at 0.25 meter resolution
  3. Final report describing data and methodology, main features of the imagery, and LiDaR data

Opportunities to learn more

  1. LiDaR point cloud data that is classified and colorized with rgb values, including classification for bare earth, low vegetation, high vegetation and structures (if any)
  2. Color ortho image mosaic at 0.25 meter resolution
  3. Final report describing data and methodology, main features of the imagery, and LiDaR data

Documents for Downloading

  1. Project Proposal