Hydrologic modeling in a marsh-mangrove ecotone: Predicting wetland surface water and salinity response to restoration in the Ten Thousand Islands region of Florida, USA

Journal of Hydrologic Engineering
By: , and 

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Abstract

At the fringe of Everglades National Park in southwest Florida, United States, the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge (TTINWR) habitat has been heavily affected by the disruption of natural freshwater flow across the Tamiami Trail (U.S. Highway 41). As the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) proposes to restore the natural sheet flow from the Picayune Strand Restoration Project area north of the highway, the impact of planned measures on the hydrology in the refuge needs to be taken into account. The objective of this study was to develop a simple, computationally efficient mass balance model to simulate the spatial and temporal patterns of water level and salinity within the area of interest. This model could be used to assess the effects of the proposed management decisions on the surface water hydrological characteristics of the refuge. Surface water variations are critical to the maintenance of wetland processes. The model domain is divided into 10 compartments on the basis of their shared topography, vegetation, and hydrologic characteristics. A diversion of +10% of the discharge recorded during the modeling period was simulated in the primary canal draining the Picayune Strand forest north of the Tamiami Trail (Faka Union Canal) and this discharge was distributed as overland flow through the refuge area. Water depths were affected only modestly. However, in the northern part of the refuge, the hydroperiod, i.e., the duration of seasonal flooding, was increased by 21 days (from 115 to 136 days) for the simulation during the 2008 wet season, with an average water level rise of 0.06 m. The average salinity over a two-year period in the model area just south of Tamiami Trail was reduced by approximately 8 practical salinity units (psu) (from 18 to 10 psu), whereas the peak dry season average was reduced from 35 to 29 psu (by 17%). These salinity reductions were even larger with greater flow diversions (+20%). Naturally, the reduction in salinity diminished toward the open water areas where the daily flood tides mix in saline bay water. Partially restoring hydrologic flows to TTINWR will affect hydroperiod and salinity regimes within downslope wetlands, and perhaps serve as a management tool to reduce the speed of future encroachment of mangroves into marsh as sea levels rise.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Hydrologic modeling in a marsh-mangrove ecotone: Predicting wetland surface water and salinity response to restoration in the Ten Thousand Islands region of Florida, USA
Series title Journal of Hydrologic Engineering
DOI 10.1061/(ASCE)HE.1943-5584.0001260
Volume 22
Issue 1
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher American Society of Civil Engineers
Publisher location New York, NY
Contributing office(s) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
Description D4015002-1: 18 p.
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N