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01.04.2015 | Ausgabe 4/2015

Environmental Management 4/2015

Predicting Ecological Responses of the Florida Everglades to Possible Future Climate Scenarios: Introduction

Zeitschrift:
Environmental Management > Ausgabe 4/2015
Autoren:
Nicholas G. Aumen, Karl E. Havens, G. Ronnie Best, Leonard Berry

Abstract

Florida’s Everglades stretch from the headwaters of the Kissimmee River near Orlando to Florida Bay. Under natural conditions in this flat landscape, water flowed slowly downstream as broad, shallow sheet flow. The ecosystem is markedly different now, altered by nutrient pollution and construction of canals, levees, and water control structures designed for flood control and water supply. These alterations have resulted in a 50 % reduction of the ecosystem’s spatial extent and significant changes in ecological function in the remaining portion. One of the world’s largest restoration programs is underway to restore some of the historic hydrologic and ecological functions of the Everglades, via a multi-billion dollar Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. This plan, finalized in 2000, did not explicitly consider climate change effects, yet today we realize that sea level rise and future changes in rainfall (RF), temperature, and evapotranspiration (ET) may have system-wide impacts. This series of papers describes results of a workshop where a regional hydrologic model was used to simulate the hydrology expected in 2060 with climate changes including increased temperature, ET, and sea level, and either an increase or decrease in RF. Ecologists with expertise in various areas of the ecosystem evaluated the hydrologic outputs, drew conclusions about potential ecosystem responses, and identified research needs where projections of response had high uncertainty. Resource managers participated in the workshop, and they present lessons learned regarding how the new information might be used to guide Everglades restoration in the context of climate change.

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