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projects > salinity patterns in florida bay: a synthesis > 1999 proposal

Salinity Patterns in Florida Bay: A Synthesis

Project Proposal for 1999

USGS Geologic Division
New Project Proposal - FY 1999

Project title: Salinity Patterns in Florida Bay: A Synthesis
Geographic area: South Florida
Project start date: 10/1/98
Project end date: 9/31/01

Project chief: Michael B. Robblee
Region/Division/Team/Section: Eastern, BRD, S. Fla/Caribbean Science Center, Restoration Ecology Branch
Email: mike_robblee@
Phone: 305-348-1269
Fax: 305 348 4096
Mail address:
OE Building, Room 148
University Park Campus
Miami, FL 33199

Program(s) Integrated Natural Resource Science Program

Program element(s)/task(s) (show percent distribution if more than one element/task). If submitting to more than one program, include element(s)/tasks from each program here:

Element 1; Task 1.7 Aspects of Florida Bay, Florida Keys and the Coral Reefs

Project summary: Salinity in Florida Bay and its relationship to climate and water management in south Florida is central to restoration activities in Florida Bay. Upstream water management activities over the last century have disrupted the quantity, quality, timing and distribution of freshwater flows into Florida Bay affecting salinity conditions. Long-term (e.g. marinification) and short-term (e.g. hypersalinity, freshets) effects of salinity are integral elements of conceptual models of seagrass die-off. Loss of seagrass habitat beginning with seagrass die-off in 1987 is implicated in the changes in sediment dynamics, nutrient dynamics and nursery function characterizing the Bay over the last decade. Detailed paleoecological studies are underway to reconstruct salinity conditions in a ěpre-managementî Florida Bay as a possible restoration target. Hydrodynamic models (RMA 10, FATHOM, SWIFT2D) are being developed for Florida Bay to aid in predicting circulation, inflow and the movement of nutrients through the system. All these studies require salinity data and synthesis for calibration, verification and interpretation. Despite these needs present and past spatial and temporal patterns of salinity in Florida Bay have not been summarized.

At this time direct salinity observations from within Florida Bay extend from 1936 to the present. Anecdotal references to salinity conditions within the Bay are known to exist from as early as 1908 within the scientific literature. Spatially extensive data are available from the mid-1950ís. The historic salinity data for the Bay and its immediate environs has been compiled from all sources into a single database relating each observation to time and place (Robblee et al, 1989). Since the early 1980ís salinity has been monitored continuously by Everglades National Park at an increasing number of stations in the Bay. The ENP database includes related data (e.g. rainfall, water level, etc.) for Florida Bay and adjacent waters as well as the Bayís headwaters in the Everglades (Smith, NPS). More recently (since 1994) bimonthly spatially intensive salinity surveys have been conducted by the US Geological Survey within Florida Bay (Halley, USGS).

This project will combine these data sets and available anecdotal data into a synthesis of salinity conditions within Florida Bay from 1900. During the first year these databases will be completed, QA/QC will be performed, and data entry into a relational database including other relevant physical data (rainfall, evaporation, flow, etc.) searchable by time, location and depth will begin. During year two a synthesis of salinity patterns in the Bay including relationships between salinity and freshwater inflow and rainfall will be completed using this relational database.

Project objectives and strategy: The objectives of this study are: 1) to characterize salinity conditions in the Bay using all available sources of salinity data as well as other relevant data and 2) to provide researchers with a fully relational database searchable in time and space to facilitate model development and use, to aid in interpretation of cores, and to help generate and test hypotheses of salinity-related processes. Year one of this two-year study will see existing data sets completed, additional data located, QA/QC performed and documentation developed for each data set. A relational database, populated by these data sets, will be initiated. The potential for incorporating the new bathymetry map of Florida Bay into this relational database will be explored. Also in year one a library search for appropriate anecdotal information, which can be interpreted in terms of salinity, will be initiated. The purpose of this effort is to extend our understanding of salinity conditions in Florida Bay backward in time to the turn of the century when measurements of salinity are not available.

During year two the library search and relational database development will continue with additional data being added as available. The relational database will first be used to summarize temporal and spatial patterns of salinity in Florida Bay based on actual data (from approximately 1955). The review and interpretation of anecdotal information will be used to extend this summary backward in time to about 1900 if possible. It is anticipated that the summary of salinity conditions in the Bay prior to about 1955 will be coarse as compared with that based on data available after 1955. The results of this salinity summary as well as this relational database will be placed on the South Florida website. In year two an interface will be developed that allows users to define space/time search parameters for salinity data. The relational database described here would be in a format and condition suitable for inclusion within a larger data management program.

Potential impacts and major products: The number of requests received for salinity data indicate that a dedicated effort should be made to make this information easily available and, at the same time, provide a vehicle for simplified analyses. At present, salinity maps and data are available over the internet but are difficult for users to find. The historical salinity database is available only by request. A salinity data set for Florida Bay is of sufficient priority to warrant a separate effort to make it quickly and efficiently available over the internet. The greatest impact will be gained if this occurs during the next 18 months. Two products are expected from this project. The first is a relational database that includes a website interface to allow individual researchers to tailor their searches of salinity data in time and space to fit their individual needs. To the extent possible we will add other parameters to the database that may be useful to understanding salinity conditions in the Bay such as water depth, rainfall and runoff. The second product will be a report that characterizes salinity conditions in the Bay both spatially and temporally. To the extent possible this characterization will be extended back to the turn of the century.  This report will also include sections relating salinities in the Bay to rainfall, evaporation and overland flow. The potential for developing a CD for distribution containing the relational database and salinity summary will be explored.

Collaborators, clients: Collaborator - At this time collaborators include DeWitt Smith of
Everglades National Park. Other collaborators will be added as needed. Clients include: ENP, SFWMD, NOAA, USACE, EPA, USGS BRD, GD, WRD, and FDEP.



Several steps need to be completed before synthesis can begin. First there needs to a determination of which data sets logically can be related and should be included with salinity. Since most data currently exist as salinity it is likely that salinity will be used as the unit of measure. Second, although most of the data has been checked for quality control, some of the early ENP data (1988-1993) needs to be reviewed for accuracy and edited. While much of the available data is known, a thorough search for other data will need to be completed. One meeting of the principals should take place early in FY 1999 to agree on format issues and the general approach. Data must be processed to agreed format and entered into an Illustrator or Oracle database depending on the ultimate location of the server. The database will provide a web browser connection with an interface constructed to return tables of spatially and temporally defined data.

Using the web interface, historical and spatial summaries of salinity will be developed for use in a synthesis circular. The synthesis circular will be written for the educated layman or manager and outline salinity history and the major processes controlling salinity in the Bay (rainfall, runoff, evaporation, circulation and bathymetry). The report will rely on simple spatial and time-series data sets drawn from the database.

Time line (FY 1999 to project end): List MAJOR tasks and deliverables by fiscal year and indicate key staff responsible for each.

FY 1999
Design database (Robblee, Smith, Halley, Tao, Pendygraft)
Assemble DOI salinity data (Robblee, Smith, Halley)
Search for additional salinity data and related parameters (Robblee, Smith, Halley)
Initiate library search (Robblee)
QA/QC of early ENP salinity data (Smith)
Develop and populate relational database with DOI data (Tao)
Begin salinity synthesis (Robblee, Smith, Halley)
Product: Completed data sets for available salinity and related parameters

Create interface for website (Pendygraft)
Complete population of database with available interagency data (Tao)

Product: Color circular/CD of salinity synthesis (Robblee, Smith, Halley)

Deliverables/products: See above

Outreach activities: A circular summarizing salinity conditions in Florida Bay written for the educated layman or manager which outlines the major processes controlling salinity in the Bay (rainfall, runoff, evaporation, circulation and bathymetry).

Proposersí previous experience in the projectís topic or geographic area: 15 years of experience in Florida Bay as a researcher for Everglades National Park, the Biological Survey, and the USGS

Names and expertise (e.g. carbonate petrology) of key project staff (list by fiscal year for duration of project):
Michael Robblee - Project Chief, Florida Bay historical salinity database
  FY 1999-2000
DeWitt Smith - Everglades National Park marine monitoring specialist FY
Robert Halley - GD bimonthly salinity surveys FY 1999-2000
Yucong Tao - Computer specialist FY 1999-2000
Heather Mount - Database specialist FY 1999
Scott Pendygraft - Webmaster FY 2000

Other Required Expertise for Which No Individual has been Identified:

Library search specialist - FY 1999-2000
Hydrology technician - FY 1999

Major Equipment/Facility Needs: None

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