GIS Coordination for the UNC Coastal Wind Power Study and Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Bird and Wildlife Use and Fishing Activity in Eastern Pamlico Sound and the Coastal Ocean in Northern Raleigh Bay and Eastern Onslow Bay

At the request of the North Carolina General Assembly, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill conducted a 9-month study to assess the feasibility of installing wind turbines in the sounds and off the coast of North Carolina. The assessment included an analysis of the spatial distributions of available wind power, ecological risks and synergies, use conflicts affecting site selection, foundation systems and their compatibility with sound and ocean bottom geology and associated geologic dynamics, electric transmission infrastructure, utility statutory and regulatory barriers, the legal context, carbon reduction potential, and economics.  MGEL provided GIS coordination and analytic capabilities to support the completion of this rapid assessment of coastal wind power potential in North Carolina.

Based on the UNC study and recommendation, Duke Energy established a partnership with UNC to pursue and fund the necessary research to build a demonstration project of 1-3 pilot wind turbines in the recommended area of eastern Pamlico Sound, with funding for small-boat surveys of birds, wildlife, and human uses during January 2010 through January 2011.  Part way through the study the Pamlico Sound pilot wind turbines were cancelled, and the study area was expanded to include offshore transects.   MGEL provided GIS coordination and analytic capabilities to geographically display sightings (birds, mammals, turtles) by species, guild, weather condition and time of year and fish activity.

In collaboration with Harvey Seim (UNC-CH Marine Sciences), Charles H. Peterson, Stephen R. Fegley (UNC-CH IMS), and Chris Taylor (NOAA)