Florida Coastal Everglades Long Term Ecological Research
Florida Coastal Everglades LTER - Current Working Groups
Current Working Groups

The current phase of the FCE LTER program is organized into four working groups and four cross-cutting themes. Each working group or cross-cutting theme focuses on a set of key research questions and/or major processes being quantified by the LTER program.
Working Groups Cross-cutting Themes
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Hydrology & Water Policy Cross-Cutting Theme
Sampling a groundwater well at TS/Ph-6bXavier Zapata-Rios sampling a groundwater well at TS/Ph-6b.
Photo by René Price
Hydrology is a primary driver of change in the South Florida landscape. Freshwater availability is driven naturally by weather, but patterns on the ground are largely controlled by water management. Saltwater is moving inland with sea level rise, which proceeds more rapidly when freshwater supplies to the Everglades are diverted away from the marsh. The people of South Florida are dependent on the freshwater recharged to our aquifer from the Everglades. As a result, people and water are directly tied to each other in this landscape. FCE researchers are studying fresh and marine water supplies to both the coastal ecotone and to the people of South Florida, and how decisions about freshwater restoration are influenced by the services provided by the Everglades. Scientists believe that increased inflows from restoration projects will push the location of salinity mixing toward the coast and increase the availability of freshwater for the Everglades and the people of South Florida.

Researchers are taking continuous measurements of surface water levels at sites in both ecotones and are gathering data from over 40 surface water monitoring stations. They are tracking the location of the estuarine ecotones using surface water salinity data and examining groundwater salinity in wells in order to quantify the extent of seawater intrusion in the underlying aquifer from FCE LTER water quality monitoring sites.

How do these factors affect people in south Florida?

The residents of south Florida rely on drinking water from the Biscayne Aquifer. This aquifer is recharged from surface water from the Everglades. A decrease in surface water levels in the Everglades will relate to a decrease in available water for the people of south Florida. In addition, a decrease in surface water levels in the Everglades can enhance seawater intrusion into the Biscayne Aquifer, further limiting freshwater supply.
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National Science Foundation logo This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under Cooperative Agreements #DEB-1237517, #DBI-0620409, and #DEB-9910514. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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