Lidar provides detailed, 3D mapping of beaches, bluffs, riparian vegetation, large woody debris, and shoreline armor along the coast. Multibeam sonar maps the depth and shape of the seafloor under the water (bathymetry) and seabed features, including substrate type, aquatic vegetation, derelict debris, and benthic habitats such as oyster beds. Each technology obtains both close-up and landscape-scale information to characterize nearshore ecosystem structure, process, and function.
The data allows us to explore connections between human interactions (such as development, protection, and restoration activities) and natural processes across the terrestrial and marine environments. For example, a single lidar survey can determine how much overhanging vegetation shades the upper beach, providing refuge to forage fish, as well as the relative impact shoreline armoring may have based on the extent it encroaches onto the beach. When the same stretch of coast is surveyed more than once, lidar and multibeam data can be used to measure the amount of sediment and woody debris supplied to the nearshore from coastal bluffs. The delivery of fine sediment from feeder bluffs is important for forage fish spawning and eelgrass habitat.
During the class, example data products will be shown and discussed to enhance our understanding of the human, geomorphic, and habitat features along the Puget Sound shoreline.