The distilling effect of evaporation and the diluting effect of precipitation on salinity at two estuarine sites in the humid subtropical setting of the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, were evaluated based on daily evaporation computed with an energy-budget method and measured precipitation. Despite the larger magnitude of evaporation (about 1,580 mm yr-1) compared to precipitation (about 1,180 mm yr-1) between February 2002 and January 2004, the variability of monthly precipitation induced salinity changes was more than twice the variability of evaporation induced changes. Use of a constant, mean value of evaporation, along with measured values of daily precipitation, were sufficient to produce simulated salinity changes that contained little monthly (root-mean-square error = 0.33??? mo-1 and 0.52??? mo-1 at the two sites) or cumulative error (<1??? yr-1) compared to simulations that used computed daily values of evaporation. This result indicates that measuring the temporal variability in evaporation may not be critical to simulation of salinity within the lagoon. Comparison of evaporation and precipitation induced salinity changes with measured salinity changes indicates that evaporation and precipitation explained only 4% of the changes in salinity within a flow-through area of the lagoon; surface water and ocean inflows probably accounted for most of the variability in salinity at this site. Evaporation and precipitation induced salinity changes explained 61% of the variability in salinity at a flow-restricted part of the lagoon. ?? 2005 Estuarine Research Federation.
Additional publication details
Evaporation, precipitation, and associated salinity changes at a humid, subtropical estuary