Exploring the long-term balance between net precipitation and net groundwater exchange in Florida seepage lakes

Journal of Hydrology
Southwest Florida Water Management District
By: , and 

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Abstract

The long-term balance between net precipitation and net groundwater exchange that maintains thousands of seepage lakes in Florida’s karst terrain is explored at a representative lake basin and then regionally for the State’s peninsular lake district. The 15-year water budget of Lake Starr includes El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-related extremes in rainfall, and provides the longest record of Bowen ratio energy-budget (BREB) lake evaporation and lake-groundwater exchanges in the southeastern United States. Negative net precipitation averaging -25 cm/yr at Lake Starr overturns the previously-held conclusion that lakes in this region receive surplus net precipitation. Net groundwater exchange with the lake was positive on average but too small to balance the net precipitation deficit. Groundwater pumping effects and surface-water withdrawals from the lake widened the imbalance. Satellite-based regional estimates of potential evapotranspiration at five large lakes in peninsular Florida compared well with basin-scale evaporation measurements from seven open-water sites that used BREB methods. The regional average lake evaporation estimated for Lake Starr during 1996-2011 was within 5 percent of its measured average, and regional net precipitation agreed within 10 percent. Regional net precipitation to lakes was negative throughout central peninsular Florida and the net precipitation deficit increased by about 20 cm from north to south. Results indicate that seepage lakes farther south on the peninsula receive greater net groundwater inflow than northern lakes and imply that northern lakes are in comparatively leakier hydrogeologic settings. Findings reveal the peninsular lake district to be more vulnerable than was previously realized to drier climate, surface-water withdrawals from lakes, and groundwater pumping effects.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Exploring the long-term balance between net precipitation and net groundwater exchange in Florida seepage lakes
Series title Journal of Hydrology
DOI 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2014.04.009
Volume 519
Issue Part D
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) FLWSC-Tampa
Description 15 p.
First page 3054
Last page 3068
Country United States
State Florida
Other Geospatial Lake Starr
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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