USGS, CES, Sea Grant Sponsored Workshop
March 29 & 30, 2012
Florida Atlantic University Davie Campus
The Center for Environmental Studies (CES) at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) held a workshop on March 29-30, 2012 at FAU in Davie, Florida. The purpose of this workshop was twofold:
The plenary sessions opened with a series of presentations that set the stage by providing a common basis of information for the discussion groups to draw upon. The first group of speakers provided a “Big Picture Perspective” on the climate change implications for Florida, including the state of knowledge, downscaling global models and changes in hydrology. This was followed by a review of selected components of the hydrological cycle, including precipitation, temperature, evapotranspiration and groundwater and surface water flows. More importantly the idea of this workshop was to focus on the impact of global climate change on rainfall variability and hydrologic variations, and their consequent implications on Everglades restoration and water management in South Florida in the near term (10-30 years) and long term (end of century).Download Summary (pdf)
A series of discussions on the complexity of downscaling from global models to this peninsular region revealed significant problems with projections of future precipitation patterns but better predictions of temperature change. Decadal variations involving El Niño and the Southern Oscillation complicate the picture. Urbanization and change in land use are also important.
Research indicates that the hydrologic cycle will change in the future and water management must be modified to handle these changes. Current temperature projections show a rise of 1-2°C (1.8-3.6°F), precipitation change may be ±10% and evapotranspiration (ET) may increase 3-6 inches by 2050. North Florida will be warmer and South Florida, at the same latitude as the Sahara, will be drier.
Precipitation is the main driver of Everglades hydrology. The research priorities are:
Evapotranspiration (ET) is the second most important component of the Everglades hydrology, but is the most poorly understood. We have begun to build a wealth of information over the past 5-7 years regarding ET. Progress has been made in gathering data that are used for the evaluation of climate models. There are several points that are crucial to the understanding of how present and future ET rates relate to the evolution of the South Florida landscape:
The alteration of land use patterns and increased urbanization will far outweigh the potential impacts of climate change on ET in South Florida for many years. The two need to be jointly and thoroughly assessed to improve predicted ET rates in the future.Groundwater and sheetflow are poorly understood components of the hydrology of the Everglades, especially regarding how they will be affected by climate change. The hydraulics of the Everglades is the only real world example of a genuine sheet flow system, which makes adaptive management and restoration an arduous and challenging task. Groundwater flow has undergone severe alteration as a result of the channelization and drainage of the Everglades, and several areas of research are needed:
Despite the dense data sets available for the Everglades there are substantial gaps and deficiencies in our understanding of Everglades hydrology. These become especially important as we attempt to assess the impact of climate change on components of the hydrological cycle. This workshop attempted to assess the state of knowledge of the hydrologic cycle, and on model projections of future change. In so doing, we identified critical knowledge gaps and made recommendations for future action.
Attendees participated in discussion groups that concentrated on the three primary influences of hydrology of the Greater Everglades: evapotranspiration, groundwater and precipitation. The discussion groups' were given charges to:
Discussion groups were composed of a wide variety of individuals including hydrologists, modelers, meteorologists and biologists. Discussion leaders guided the dialog to answer the above inquiries. Results were presented to the entire workshop to discover knowledge gaps and to discuss any potential items that may have been overlooked by the groups.
Each discussion groups produced a list of Data Needs and Research Priorities. These lists were combined and categorized under the following topics: Sheet Flow, Groundwater, Evapotransporation and Climate Change and Sea Level Rise (SLR). Additional recommendations for outreach were also determined. The Data Needs and Research Priorities as well as the Outreach Recommendations are listed in the table on the back of this publication.
This technical meeting is sponsored by:
For more information contact:
Mary Beth Hartman, Conference & Outreach Coordinator
Center for Environmental Studies at Florida Atlantic University
Mary Beth Hartman or (954) 236-1203