The Georgia Coastal Ecosystems LTER is building on the long term legacy of scientific study and ecosystem preservation that have been established by the University of Georgia Marine Institute (UGAMI) on Sapelo Island since 1954 and the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve (SINERR) established in 1976. Additionally, the Georgia Rivers LMER (GARLMER), which was concluded in October 2000, examined processing of materials transported through the intertidal zone of the Altamaha River and of 4 other Georgia coastal rivers.
Since the Georgia Coastal Ecosystems LTER site was initially funded in May 2000, we have established a comprehensive environmental monitoring network to map spatial and temporal variability and mean values of key environmental factors throughout the GCE study area. This network is composed of independent monitoring stations operated by the GCE program and stations operated in collaboration with other programs and agencies (UGA Marine Institute, SINERR program, and USGS).
Core data from the monitoring program is distributed to the LTER and broader scientific community through a web-accessible catalog and KNB project data repository. Data from additional monitoring resources is also regularly acquired and used to extend the temporal and spatial scale of GCE observations, including the National Data Buoy Center's Gray's Reef buoy, Georgia Rivers LMER data, and National Weather Service records for Sapelo Island.
A Schoolyard LTER program (S.A.P.E.L.O. - Scientists and Professional Educators Learning Outdoors) was also established in 2001. An initial workshop hosted 10 teachers representing all areas of the state, and since then the program has grown and now operates two sessions each summer. To date, 55 teachers have participated in the program and those teachers have now served over 5300 K-12 students across Georgia.