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Southern Inland and Coastal Systems (SICS) Model Development

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Project Investigator: Eric Swain

Project Personnel: Melinda Lohmann, David Garces, Marc Stewart

Project Start Date: 1996 End Date: 2000


Summary

The objective of this project is to investigate wetland response to freshwater inflows and to compute resultant salinity patterns and concentrations in the subtidal embayments as functions of freshwater inflows.

Please visit the Tides and Inflows in the Mangrove Ecotone (TIME) Model Development Project Webpage for more information.

One problem of particular concern and uncertainty to water management agencies for the South Florida Ecosystem is what effect future infrastructure and hydrologic changes to Taylor Slough and C-111 will have on the Everglades wetlands and the coastal mangrove ecotone of northeast Florida Bay. Specifically, hydroperiods and hydropatterns, which relate to the duration, timing, and extent of wetland inundation, in the southern part of the Everglades, have been greatly distorted to the detriment of plant and animal life as evidenced by shifts in biologic and vegetative species. The quantity, timing, and location of freshwater flows to the subtidal embayments of northeast Florida Bay have been significantly altered by modification of inflows from the headwaters of the Taylor Slough and C-111 drainage basins, thereby contributing to aqueous stresses associated with the development of hypersaline conditions. Moveover, excess nutrients and contaminants are adding to the problems experienced by living organisms in both the wetlands and associated subtidal embayments of Florida Bay, as well as the Bay itself.

For more than a decade, the National Park Service, Army Corps of Engineers, and the South Florida Water Management District have been working jointly on design modifications to the Central and South Florida Project features to reestablish more natural surface flows through the Everglades National Park and into Florida Bay. Numerous process studies are underway and(or) planned to evaluate the effects of implemented redesigns, yet no project is focused on synthesizing and integrating process-study findings into a cohesive management tool to evaluate these plans prior to implementation or to assess the results of implemented restoration actions. A coupled hydrodynamic and constituent transport model is needed to integrate process-study findings in order to evaluate the variable forcing mechanisms that govern both the flow of water and concurrent transport of waterborne constituents in and through the southern Everglades wetlands that discharge into the subtidal embayments surrounding northeast Florida Bay. Once fully developed, implemented, and calibrated the hydrodynamic/transport model can be used to investigate wetland response to freshwater inflows and to compute resultant salinity patterns and concentrations in the subtidal embayments as functions of freshwater inflows and other dynamic forcing mechanisms in order to quantify, assess, and thereby systematically guide restoration efforts.

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