Modeling San Diego Bay to Aid Resource Management
Analytical methods and software models are being developed in order to increase understanding of San Diego Bay. One application is to study environmental risks such as contaminant spills, and the dynamics of animal communities. The tools that are being developed will provide access to the best and most comprehensible information available to aid public policy makers in managing the use of the bay. The methods and procedures developed will be able to be generalized to other geographic areas in the U.S. and around the world.
San Diego Bay is one of the great natural harbors of the world. First sighted by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542, it is 22 square miles in size, with its deep-water harbor sheltered by the peninsulas of Point Loma and Coronado. Five municipalities (San Diego, Chula Vista, National City, Imperial Beach, and Coronado) share the coastline of the bay, and many more depend on it for domestic and international commerce and diverse recreational activities. In addition, the Nation depends on San Diego Bay to support the Pacific fleet for national defense.
Regulatory oversight of the bay is assigned to some 26 organizations and municipalities involved in using and managing it. They include Federal, state, and local organizations: EPA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Game, and the County Health Department. Legislation has established the San Diego Bay Interagency Water Quality Panel (Bay Panel) to coordinate the environmental monitoring activities of these groups; the Panel funds this project. Bay Panel participants also include NOAA, the U.S. Navy, the City of San Diego, the Port of San Diego, the Audubon Society, and the Environmental Health Coalition.
The central focus of this effort is to develop a visual three- dimensional model of the bay based on physical, biological, and chemical data contributed by 35 data collection programs. Such visualization will provide the Panel with a complete picture of what is and is not known about the complex conditions of the bay and will help monitor the success or failure of policy decisions over time.
The first year's activities focus on acquiring and reviewing the data, establishing quality control to ensure that units of measurement are consistent and that anomalies are revealed and evaluated, and centralizing the data on a server at SDSC that is accessible over the Internet. The resulting database will be used to develop thematic data layers for presentation in the visual model, find correlations among interdisciplinary data, and support the examination of gaps in the spatio-temporal record and redundancies in monitoring programs, which waste labor and financial resources. Then work will turn to developing the visual model and doing preliminary hydrodynamic modeling. The visualization will include animated sequences over time and space to illustrate variations in population densities, water quality, and sediment characteristics. The second and third years call for development of analytical and predictive models. Model results and animations accessible via three- dimensional browsers will be made available on the server.