About the Super Storm Sandy Project

In 2013, the University of New Hampshire's Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping proposed a collaborative agreement with NOAA for a research and development initiative to address improvements in lidar, optical and acoustic coastal and ocean mapping as well as marine debris mapping data processing problems associated with the FY 13 Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, in support of disaster relief and recovery in response to Super Storm Sandy. Super Storm Sandy caused massive amounts of damage and flooding along the United States eastern seaboard, and impacts on submerged and intertidal zones are still being determined. As large amounts of coastal and ocean mapping data are collected and processed, NOAA has requested that additional research in the areas of lidar, marine debris mapping, acoustic data and techniques, specialized data processing, and public outreach be conducted in order to improve coastal and ocean mapping practices in the wake of the storm.

Our proposal outlines a two-year program of research and outreach to meet the broad goals of the project. Specific research objectives include:

  • Advancing lidar processing with an emphasis on creating new Integrated Ocean and Coastal Mapping multi-use products and analyzing shoreline change and erosion patterns;
  • Developing sophisticated means of planning successful lidar surveys by combining lidar, spectral, and acoustic system data
  • Advancing procedures for water column and seafloor characterization using lidar intensities, focusing on integrating results into existing habitat classification and coastal engineering index standards;
  • Investigating the use of automated methods to identify and classify submerged marine debris and develop approaches to recognize and inventory marine debris items
  • Investigating methods to decrease the time required by human analysts to process and analyze data in disaster response situations, including evaluating the benefits of parallel computation, scalable capabilities and new visualization techniques;
  • Developing acoustic survey acquisition procedures that will maximize efficiency in post-disaster response situations giving prominence to assessing the benefits and limitations of multibeam echosounder and phase measuring bathymetric sonar (PMBS) systems;
  • Developing PMBS data processing techniques that account for measurement uncertainties, assessing whether these techniques expedite the processing of PMBS data and preserve detected objects throughout the processing workflow
  • Examining the applicability of using multibeam and PMBS data to assess storm-related impacts on the seabed as a function of sonar resolution;
  • Improving marine debris data display and use for response and restoration efforts using applications such as GeoPlatform and ERMA;
  • Investigating the potential benefits of developing a system that automatically displays potential marine debris targets in multiple views and orientations to enhance the data analyst’s processing efficiency and ability to discriminate between natural and artificial targets; and
  • Developing project-specific websites that highlight the aims and results of the research through an array of interactive infographics.

Our project has many benefits that will enhance research and data production within the hydrographic and oceanographic fields, as well as expanding the general public's understanding of the Sandy-inflicted impacts to many coastal and ocean resources. A major intended benefit of this research includes advancing existing coastal and ocean mapping survey acquisition, processing, and analysis techniques and incorporating data into multi-use products that will benefit a wide user base, adhering to the concept of “map once–use many times”. Another key benefit of this research is the investigation of automated procedures for marine debris identification and classification, which have the potential to both increase the efficiency and limit the subjectivity in marine debris removal prioritization efforts. This research further benefits disaster response and outreach efforts by enhancing data visualization and data dissemination through the use of interactive infographics and websites.