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Many applications of geospatial data in coastal environments require knowledge of the nearshore topography and bathymetry. However, because existing topographic and bathymetric data have been collected independently for different purposes, it has been difficult to use them together at the land/water interface owing to differences in format, projection, resolution, accuracy, and datums. As a first step toward solving the problems of integrating diverse coastal datasets, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are collaborating on a joint demonstration project to merge their data for the Tampa Bay region of Florida. The best available topographic and bathymetric data were extracted from the USGS National Elevation Dataset and the NOAA hydrographic survey database, respectively. Before being merged, the topographic and bathymetric datasets were processed with standard geographic information system tools to place them in a common horizontal reference frame. Also, a key part of the preprocessing was transformation to a common vertical reference through the use of VDatum, a new tool created by NOAA's National Geodetic Survey for vertical datum conversions. The final merged product is a seamless topographic/bathymetric model covering the Tampa Bay region at a grid spacing of 1 arc-second. Topographic LIDAR data were processed and merged with the bathymetry to demonstrate the incorporation of recent third party data sources for several test areas. A primary application of a merged topographic/bathymetric elevation model is for user-defined shoreline delineation, in which the user decides on the tidal condition (for example, low or high water) to be superimposed on the elevation data to determine the spatial position of the water line. Such a use of merged topographic/bathymetric data could lead to the development of a shoreline zone, which could reduce redundant mapping efforts by federal, state, and local agencies by allowing them to customize their portrayals of the shoreline using a standard baseline elevation dataset.
Additional Publication Details
Development of a seamless multisource topographic/bathymetric elevation model of Tampa Bay