Florida Bay salinity and Everglades wetlands hydrology circa 1900 CE: A compilation of paleoecology-based statistical modeling analyses

Open-File Report 2012-1054
By:  and 



Throughout the 20th century, the Greater Everglades Ecosystem of south Florida was greatly altered by human activities. Construction of water-control structures and facilities altered the natural hydrologic patterns of the south Florida region and consequently impacted the coastal ecosystem. Restoration of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem is guided by the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), which is attempting to reverse some of the impacts of water management. In order to achieve this goal, it is essential to understand the predevelopment conditions (circa 1900 Common Era, CE) of the natural system, including the estuaries. The purpose of this report is to use empirical data derived from analyses of estuarine sediment cores and observations of modern hydrologic and salinity conditions to provide information on the natural system circa 1900 CE. A three-phase approach, developed in 2009, couples paleosalinity estimates derived from sediment cores to upstream hydrology using statistical models prepared from existing monitoring data. Results presented here update and improve previous analyses. A statistical method of estimating the paleosalinity from the core information improves the previous assemblage analyses, and the system of linear regression models was significantly upgraded and expanded.

The upgraded method of coupled paleosalinity and hydrologic models was applied to the analysis of the circa-1900 CE segments of five estuarine sediment cores collected in Florida Bay. Comparisons of the observed mean stage (water level) data to the paleoecology-based model's averaged output show that the estimated stage in the Everglades wetlands was 0.3 to 1.6 feet higher at different locations. Observed mean flow data compared to the paleoecology-based model output show an estimated flow into Shark River Slough at Tamiami Trail of 401 to 2,539 cubic feet per second (cfs) higher than existing flows, and at Taylor Slough Bridge an estimated flow of 48 to 218 cfs above existing flows. For salinity in Florida Bay, the difference between paleoecology-based and observed mean salinity varies across the bay, from an aggregated average salinity of 14.7 less than existing in the northeastern basin to 1.0 less than existing in the western basin near the transition into the Gulf of Mexico. When the salinity differences are compared by region, the difference between paleoecology-based conditions and existing conditions are spatially consistent.

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Florida Bay salinity and Everglades wetlands hydrology circa 1900 CE: A compilation of paleoecology-based statistical modeling analyses
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2012-1054
DOI 10.3133/ofr20121054
Edition Version 1.1; Originally posted April 10, 2012; Revised August 15, 2014
Year Published 2012
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center
Description 32 p.; Tables; Appendix Download
Country United States
State Forida
Other Geospatial Everglades
Online Only (Y/N) Y
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