Supporting Alabama Barrier Island Restoration Feasibility Study Through Online Data Tools

Science Center Objects

USGS WARC computer scientists designed, developed, and deployed a suite of web applications to assist the State of Alabama with restoration measure options of Dauphin Island.

The Science Issue and Relevance: The barrier islands bordering many of the Gulf States provide protection for mainland resources as well as critical habitat for migratory birds, aquatic reptiles, and marine species. Major storm events can negatively impact barrier islands including Alabama’s main barrier island, Dauphin Island. Through a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation funded effort, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), which plays a significant role in the restoration and maintenance of these dynamic systems, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) entered a cooperative effort to assist the State of Alabama with restoration measure options of Dauphin Island. The USGS Wetland and Aquatic Research Center’s (WARC) Advanced Applications Team (AAT) led the data management component for the study, which included data cataloging, database design and population, and ultimately providing a web environment for search and consumption of data supporting the feasibility study. The geospatially enabled, interactive map-based environment provided the project team with easy access to final data collection layers, data visualizations, and underlying source data.

Alabama Barrier Island Restoration Assessment Interactive Map

Figure 1:  Alabama Barrier Island Restoration Assessment Interactive Map displaying water quality, wave gage, and sediment sample locations, as well as acoustic doppler current profiler (ADCP) transects and habitat mapping data. (Public domain.)

Methodology for Addressing the Issue:

Software Suite Development:  Leading the data management effort, the WARC AAT focused on data standardization, organization, and visualization. USGS WARC computer scientists designed, developed, and deployed a suite of web applications to serve the needs of the larger feasibility study team. The suite includes data and file sharing functionality, an online searchable data catalog containing Dauphin Island legacy, baseline, and study data, and an interactive web mapping application. By web-enabling the project-specific data, the AAT was able to highlight those datasets collected and/or derived during the three-year feasibility study. Such datasets include water quality, current, wave, sediment, acoustic doppler current profiler (ADCP), shoreline, lidar, and bathymetry data.

Alabama Barrier Island Restoration Assessment Interactive Map

Figure 2: These four images illustrate how the web tool can visualize shoreline changes over time (top images), large bathymetry and lidar data (bottom left), or simple line charts illustrating water quality used in the feasibility planning decision process (bottom right).

(Public domain.)

Future Steps:  The State of Alabama will use the results of this feasibility study to decide what’s next for Dauphin Island, its residents, and the species that depend on the critical habitat the island provides. The current suite of web applications was built with extensibility in mind and could be expanded to expose more features and house additional types of data.