Regional Habitat Mapping Pilot Study

Developing Standard Approaches to Synthesizing, Visualizing, and Disseminating High-resolution Geophysical and Imagery Data to Advance Benthic Habitat Mapping for Offshore Wind in the Northeast

View the one-page summary.

 

Period of performance: November 2020 – February 2022

Partners: INSPIRE Environmental

Funding: Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management

Summary: INSPIRE Environmental and the Northeast Regional Ocean Council are working together to develop standard approaches to synthesizing, visualizing, and disseminating high-resolution acoustic and imagery data to advance benthic habitat mapping in the wind energy areas of the Northeast. This project will develop best practices for:

  • integrating acoustic data and high-resolution imagery to map benthic habitats; and
  • making those habitat data available to federal and state regulators and stakeholders in a vetted and established forum, the Northeast Ocean Data Portal

INSPIRE will collaborate with NROC to ensure that these habitat data products are compatible with existing mapping standards. NROC will convene a Seafloor Habitat Data Work Group to elicit input regarding specific benthic habitat mapping needs as well as coordinating review and vetting by stakeholders of the developed habitat data products.

Objectives: Provide regional/intermediate-scale habitat data on the Portal to support a variety of uses such as:

  • Evaluate potential regional and cumulative effects of offshore wind development on benthic habitats
  • Inform planning of benthic monitoring efforts pre-, during-, and post-construction in conjunction with other data available on the Portal (e.g., fish biomass, fishing effort, etc.)
  • Inform planning and assessment of activities and uses that could impact benthic habitats

Seafloor Habitat Data Work Group

Purpose

  • One response to recommendations made over the last several years by the NROC Ocean Planning Committee
  • Complementary to the NROC Habitat Classification and Ocean Mapping (HCOM) Subcommittee
  • Will inform a pilot project to use high- resolution seafloor habitat data (e.g., acoustic data and seafloor imagery) collected by the offshore wind industry to improve existing regional-scale seafloor habitat data products that vary in age, coverage, and scale.
  • Methods/approaches can be transferred to high-resolution seafloor habitat data from other sources and for other uses

Members

  • Expertise in:
    • Offshore wind regulatory processes
    • Synthesis and classification of seafloor acoustic data and seafloor imagery
    • Development of interactive data exploration or analysis tools
    • Development of infographics and documentation, including metadata
  • From variety of organizations: offshore energy developers, federal and state agencies