SOUTH FLORIDA ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION
PREDICTION AND MODELING
FY98 IMPLEMENTATION PLAN

INTRODUCTION

A. Background

Within the SFER effort, NOAA’s Coastal Ocean Program (COP) has continued to maintain a lead role in regard to rigorously determining the causes of present changes in the coastal ecosystem and quantitatively predicting the consequences upon that ecosystem of upstream restoration activities. The underlying concept, adaptive environmental management, was articulated in the Integrated Science Plan developed by the Science Coordination Team (formerly called the Science Subgroup of the Management and Coordination Working Group of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force (SFERTF). In FY97, and now in FY98, the NOAA/COP South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Prediction and Modeling (SFERPM) program funds both field and laboratory research and model development. In addition, the SFERPM program has, on behalf of the overall interagency Florida Bay Science Program Management Committee, funded a substantial Community Outreach & Education effort and assumed responsibility for the Interagency Florida Bay Science Program web site.

The SFERPM program was conceptually developed by a team of federal, state and academic regional scientists. The elements of the SFERPM program were designed to complement other components of the FY97 NOAA South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Initiative (SFERI) such as the NMFS-lead Protection of Living Marine Sources and the NOS-lead Integrated Florida Bay and Florida Keys Ecosystem Monitoring programs. Moreover, a substantial fraction of SFERPM funds directly contributes to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) Management Plan and the national Coral Reef Initiative (http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/~icri) by addressing the linkages between Florida Bay, the Florida Keys, and the coral reef tracts of the FKNMS.

B. Goals

The Interagency Science Program in Florida Bay has continued in its efforts to develop an understanding of the structure and function of Florida Bay in the context of South Florida ecosystem restoration. Restoration implies establishing and sustaining the natural diversity, abundance, and behavior of the marine and estuarine flora and fauna, and in Florida Bay the principal factor that appears to control these parameters is freshwater input. Timing, location, type, and quality of this input are critical to Florida Bay ecology. Clearly, upstream restoration activities have a direct impact on Florida Bay although the impacts may not be immediate. Achieving the capability of predicting these impacts continues to be the ultimate goal of the SFERPM program i.e., it implies a rigorous understanding of the physics and ecology of Florida Bay and the larger coastal ecosystem with which it is intimately connected. This understanding remains the overall objective of the Interagency Science Program in Florida Bay of which NOAA SFERPM is the largest component.

Predicting the downstream effects of Florida Bay restoration upon the sustainability of the coral reef ecosystems of the FKNMS is also critical to NOAA. While this issue falls somewhat outside the scope of the Interagency Science Program in Florida Bay, it is notable that the geographic scopes of Florida Bay hydrodynamic and water quality modeling efforts sponsored by the Interagency Program have now been expanded to include the FKNMS. As noted in the FKNMS Management Plan, "little attention was given to the degradation of water quality in Florida Bay" initially. As the plan was refined, however, this linkage became, and continues to be, a major focus of the FKNMS Water Quality and Research and Monitoring Plans and, thus, is reflected in the goals and specific program elements of the SFERPM program.

C. Objectives

The challenge to the Florida Bay research community continues to be to deliver timely information to South Florida Ecosystem Restoration managers. While this may at times be politically difficult, scientifically based restoration is viewed as an iterative process through which management alternatives are developed and selected, the preferred alternative implemented, physical and biological responses assessed, results reported to managers, and the process repeated over and over again as restoration proceeds. It is through this adaptive process that the goals continue to be achieved. SFERPM's program has two basic components: Environmental Research & Modeling and Community Education & Outreach. In a practical political sense both may be critical to the aforementioned iterative process. Implementation of management alternatives will be impossible without public support regardless of the scientific information provided to the managers.

Environmental Research & Modeling. Specific projects were selected for FY97/FY98 (two-year awards) through an open, fully competitive, peer-review process. Announcements of Availability of Funds were mailed to academic institutions, NOAA cooperative institutes, the Science Coordination Team mailing list, and given to our interagency partners. In addition, they were distributed through State and National Sea Grant offices. After careful evaluation by the Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) and the SFERPM Program Management Committee (PMC) of all planning letters received, specific projects were targeted and more detailed work plans were requested from the investigators. The criteria for evaluation included both technical merit and program relevance, and while NOAA-academic collaborative projects were encouraged, they were not required. The detailed work plans received were again evaluated by the PMC and presented to the interagency Florida Bay Program Management Committee to ensure consistency with the overall Interagency Science Program priorities and, finally, a select number were recommended for funding to COP. As in the past, all participating NOAA investigators that were selected have been required to provide substantial matching funds. In addition, supplementary funds have been acquired from other parts of NOAA. These additional funds significantly augment what might have been achieved with COP funding alone and permitted a number of additional projects.

Community Education & Outreach. This component of the SFERPM program is (and will continue to be) conducted by Florida Sea Grant. Before final approval by the SFERPM Program Management Committee (PMC), Sea Grant's work plan was submitted to the interagency Florida Bay Program Management Committee for their review. As with all SFER public outreach and education efforts developed at that time, their activities, on behalf of the interagency PMC, were fully integrated and approved by the SFER Working Group's Public Information and Education Subgroup.

D. Organization

SFERPM has followed the distributed project management approach pioneered within NOAA by COP. This mechanism has proven highly effective in the management of interdisciplinary federal/academic collaborative programs e.g., NECOP and SABRE. Further, it has enabled managers to bridge fundamental institutional differences between various NOAA line organizations and academic institutions.

Within SFERPM, the Program Management Committee (PMC) is responsible for both funding decisions and continuing project management. Guidance for these tasks is provided by a Technical Advisory/Review Panel (TAP) that consists of federal, state, and academic natural scientists and social scientists familiar both with the South Florida ecosystem and with various SFERTF activities (Appendix III). To assure continued interagency coordination and cooperation, members of the PMC and TAP continue to serve upon both the interagency Florida Bay Program Management Committee and the Science Coordination Team of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force Working Group. The SFERPM PMC is currently composed of one representative from Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (University of Miami) and one representative from each of two different NOAA line organizations (OAR and NMFS).

FY97 ANNUAL REPORT

A. Progress Toward Overall Goals

Environmental Research & Modeling. The SFERPM Environmental Research & Modeling program was developed as an integral component (within the constraints and structures) of the overall Interagency Science Program in Florida Bay at the direction of a NOAA Florida Bay Task Force (chaired by the director of NOAA/COP). According to the agreed upon interagency framework, individual agency research activities and implementation plans must not only be consistent with the scientific approach and priorities of the interagency Strategic Science Plan but they must also be reviewed through the interagency program management process. This was felt to be essential not only to minimize waste but also to permit sufficient flexibility in redirecting funds by collaborating agencies. The intention was (and still is) that individual agency activities be complementary rather than comprehensive i.e., that in aggregate (rather than individually) their efforts will yield answers to the basic questions posed as well as furnish timely information to restoration managers. The research objectives of the Interagency Science Program in Florida Bay were (and are) as follows:

Although NOAA has become the largest supporter of Florida Bay restoration research, at present, the NOAA SFERPM program represents only 55 % of the ca. $7M committed to the Interagency program. These obligations and relationships are fully described in the NOAA Florida Bay Research & Modeling program FY95, FY 96, and SFERPM FY97 Implementation Plans signed and approved by the Assistant Administrators of OAR, NMFS, NOS, and the Director of the Coastal Ocean Program.

The "customers" of the research funded and/or conducted by the interagency partners (including NOAA) are the Interagency Florida Bay Working Group and the South Florida Ecosystem Task Force Management Working Group. NOAA's institutional expertise and its specific environmental mandates such as preserving the FKNMS and protecting living marine resources (including endangered species) have delimited NOAA's contribution to the Florida Bay Interagency program and guided the substantive content of the FY96 Implementation Plan. Specifically, NOAA was asked by its agency partners (DOD/ACoE, DOI/ENP, DOI/NBS, EPA, FDEP, SFWMD) to focus its research effort upon the larger oceanographic, atmospheric, geological and fisheries context within which Bay restoration will proceed. This implied that most NOAA resources were to be directed towards studying the Bay ecosystem's interaction with and significance to the adjacent Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal marine ecosystems. In addition, resources were to be directed toward the Bay ecosystem's regulation by the larger scale oceanic and meteorological processes that so intimately link the coastal marine environment to the coastal terrestrial systems in South Florida.

Community Education & Outreach. The overall goal of the Community Education & Outreach program is to connect research, science, and ecosystem management with the diverse public audiences and individual interests living beside and visiting Florida Bay and its watershed. At present, the Florida Bay Education Office is open and functional and staffed with a water quality extension agent, a science communicator, and a secretary. A memorandum of understanding between Everglades National Park (ENP), FKNMS, and Florida Sea Grant is in place, and education and outreach activities are underway.

Risk Assessment/Socioeconomic Analysis. Although SFERPM solicited planning letters in FY97 for Risk Assessment/Socioeconomic Analysis, none of the submissions were funded. During the review phase it was clear that SFERPM miscalculated in combining disparate elements (risk assessment and socioeconomic analysis) into a single announcement. Not a single proposal was positively reviewed. Initially, SFERPM was hoping to use ecological risk assessment as a tool for management decisions. During the review process, however, reviewers expressed their concerns that ecological risk assessment was an inappropriate tool for this use and, in fact, management and regulatory communities may not be committed to using the information that would be generated in their decision-making processes. SFERPM shares this last concern. Moreover, given the recent reorganization of the South Florida Interagency Task Force, it was impolitic to issue an announcement of availability of funds for such policy-laden topics as risk assessment and/or socioeconomic analysis without an explicit partnership with the appropriate federal and state agencies. With the agreement of COP, the entire subject area was tabled pending the results of the recently held (February 1998) interagency workshop on the topic of socioeconomic research required by SFER and finalization of the budgets of our interagency and NOAA line organization partners.

B. General Accomplishments

Funded Research. A complete list of SFERPM funded research projects (including Community Education & Outreach) is given in Appendices I and II. In addition, SFERPM maintains a web site so that project descriptions, accomplishments (updated at least biannually), recent data and preliminary conclusions are provided as quickly as possible to the South Florida research and restoration management communities The SFERPM web site can be viewed at http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/ocd/sferpm/ . Detailed information on each project can be obtained by logging onto this site, but is also briefly summarized in the pages to follow. The Community Education & Outreach project group maintains its own web site which can be found at http://flseagrant.org/flbay.htm . It is also linked to the SFERPM program home page. In addition to research projects, SFERPM has funded two research support items: Data Management/Administration and Small Boat Operations.

Data Management/Administration. One measure of program success is whether or not research data is easily accessible by interested parties. The Panel noted that "...data management systems should be developed in order to facilitate data sharing and accessibility by investigators and to ensure data preservation... and to develop networks that link distributed data bases...including GIS." At the behest of SFERPM, a data management policy has been endorsed by the interagency PMC and data management team members have been assigned. A raw data database is in the early stages of design and collection of data from investigators has already begun within SFERPM with the hiring of data management personnel. As noted earlier, an augmentation of our data management/administration effort included assumption by SFERPM of the interagency web site located at http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/flbay/ .

Small Boat Operations. A special purpose high-speed shoal draft vessel has been acquired and is being fitted with state of the art physical, biological and chemical sampling instrumentation. This vessel can be deployed from the Key Largo Ranger Station or other convenient sites and is provided to all SFERPM projects at no charge. It is already being used by SFERPM investigators for regular surveys of the Bay as well as servicing the various fixed moorings and tower sampling platforms SFERPM maintains throughout the Bay and the FKNMS.

C. Individual Project Year One (FY97) Accomplishments and Year Two (FY98) Plans

In FY97, SFERPM funded projects addressed three general topics: improving our physical understanding of Florida Bay; characterizing the Florida Bay ecosystem and the changes it has undergone; and anthropogenic influences.

¨Improving our physical understanding of Florida Bay and/or modeling of Florida Bay's interconnection and dependence upon regional oceanographic and meteorological processes are the general goals of the projects below. These projects represent NOAA's contribution to an interagency effort attempting to develop, initialize, and run in an operational mode a Florida Bay Circulation model. This model is, in turn, part of a still larger effort to develop, initialize, and run in an operational mode a coupled oceanographic, hydrological, and atmospheric model of the South Florida peninsula to provide requisite inputs to coastal water quality and ecological models.

Regional Boundary Conditions for Florida Bay, Aikman et al.

Objectives: The goal of this project is to provide accurate physical (water levels, currents, temperature and salinity) boundary condition information to modelers and investigators working in the South Florida region and in Florida Bay. Water level is probably the single most important parameter for any hydrodynamic modeling effort in Florida Bay, thus this project is initially focusing on providing such, coordinating as closely as possible with the Corps of Engineers Florida Bay Circulation Modeling effort. To this end the Princeton Ocean Model (POM) is being applied to the Gulf of Mexico/Caribbean (GOM) region to provide this information, based on atmospheric and tidal forcing of a barotropic (two-dimensional; vertically integrated) version of the POM.

Accomplishments: The model bathymetry has been established (a GOM and two subdomains) and tidal simulations, based on open ocean tidal boundary conditions, compare well with previous model results. Moreover, three different gridded wind fields for different simulation periods have been prepared and purely wind-driven simulations of the GOM and Florida Shelf (FS) domains are underway. The observed coastal water level gauge data has been assembled at stations around the GOM domain for these time periods and will be used to evaluate the model results.

A 14-month (September 1, 1995 to October 31, 1996) barotropic FS model simulation of wind-plus-tide-forced water level and currents has been completed, and results are being evaluated using NOS water level gauge data plus recently obtained observations of bottom pressure and both moored and drifting buoy current meter data from Tom Lee (RSMAS) and Ned Smith (HBOI). This includes estimates of the cross-FB sea level slope. Preliminary results indicate that the barotropic model water levels are in close agreement with the observations around FB (RMS difference apx. 7 to 8 cm; correlation coefficient apx. 0.9) and that the model cross-FB sea level slop is in qualitative agreement with the observations.

FY98: Barotropic (2-dimensional ) FS model results will be analyzed against available data and "best-analyzed" wind fields will be generated for the FS to test the model in a nowcast/forecast mode. This will be coordinated with an independently funded similar effort being conducted on the Texas shelf which will provide open ocean water level boundary conditions for a Galveston Bay nowcast/forecast system.

All project milestones have been met and we expect this project to become purely operational (along with the ACoE Circulation Model or its successor) by FY2000. It’s deliverables in FY98 include transferring modeled wind/water level data to the ACoE (Q2) and collaborative completion of the ACoE Bay Circulation Model verification effort (Q4).

Simulations of Regional Climatic Patterns Which Impact the Florida Bay Water Cycle, Craig Mattocks

Objectives: This project has had two principal objectives: mesoscale atmospheric modeling and episodic meteorological event reconstruction. The former is critical to wind forcing of the Bay circulation model as well as rainfall inputs to south Florida and the Bay while the latter was deemed critical to understanding the south Florida ecosystem which can be strongly influenced by episodic storms and/or hurricanes, as noted by the Panel. A high-resolution version of the Advance Regional Prediction System (ARPS) model has been extended to actually predict the amount and the distribution of rainfall, not just moisture convergence and the locations of dry convective cells, as well as replication of realistic looking precipitation patterns along the sea breeze front. Moreover, ARPS has recently been enhanced to also predict the planetary boundary layer (PBL) height as a function of time and stability. Work in progress for initializing ARPS from real-time operational model history files and initializing ARPS from a realistic 3-D heterogeneous atmospheric state should substantially improve the realism of the atmospheric simulations.

Accomplishments:

The achievement of these milestones in the development of the ARPS atmospheric numerical weather prediction model makes the generation of high-resolution simulations of rainfall and surface winds, and their application as tactical decision aids (TDAs) in Everglades restoration management, a near-term possibility.

FY98:

The principal deliverable from this project in FY98 will be making realistic wind and evaporation fields available to the restoration management community though WWW project site dissemination of model outputs (Q3).

Circulation and Exchange of Florida Bay and the Connecting Waters, Lee et al.

Objective: The goal of this effort is to obtain the physical data required to support the Florida Bay Circulation Model (ACoE) and the NOS Florida Shelf Model and to gain sufficient understanding of the underlying physics to assure model accuracy.

Accomplishments: Field work began December 1995 and consists of a combination of synoptic shipboard surveys, in situ moorings and Lagrangian surface drifters to describe and quantify the circulation within the Bay as related to local forcing and coupling with the waters of the Atlantic and Gulf. Field work includes five seasonal hydrographic surveys of Florida Bay and the surrounding waters, in conjunction with both a time series (since Dec. 1995) of CTD and bottom pressure data from a five meter array in western Florida Bay and adjacent southwest Florida shelf and Florida Keys, and 3-month surface drifter trajectories from two satellite tracked drifters. These observations have begun documenting the highly-variable, low-salinity Shark River discharge plume which is advected towards Florida Bay and the Keys; extensive exchange between the GOM and western, but not eastern Florida Bay; high chlorophyll concentrations indicative of planktonic uptake of river borne nutrients; a cyclonic recirculation between West Cape Sable and Cape Romano; as well as a net southeastward flow from the Gulf of Mexico to the Florida reef track through western Florida Bay.

Physical modelers guiding the Interagency Florida Bay PMC stressed these data as critical to model development and operation, especially exchange across the dynamic western boundary. Moreover, this NOAA project is leveraged by data and information exchange with Ned Smith (HBOI), through funding from EPA, as well as freshwater flow data from the USGS and the SFWMD.

Accomplishments:

The principal deliverable of this project in FY98 will be dissemination of data to the modeling and field sampling research communities and the FKNMS management community via the WWW project site (Q3).

Field Observations to Initialize and Verify Computer Simulations of Florida Bay Circulation, Ned P. Smith

Objective: The primary goal of this study is to assemble observations of currents, winds and water levels, and then to analyze the data in such a way that the results can be used to verify a hydrodynamic model of Florida Bay. Five specific objectives have been identified:

Accomplishments: Field work began in mid July, 1997, and it will continue through the end of June, 1998. A long-term monitoring site was established south of Gopher Keys on July 17th. Data from this site will describe seasonal variations as well as tidal exchanges between adjacent sub-basins. Two study sites along the 81o05' meridian were occupied from late August through late November to investigate tidal and nontidal exchanges with shelf waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Additional short-term study sites will be maintained in the interior of the bay (near Spy Key and Jimmy Key), and along the Intra coastal Waterway on the southeastern side of Florida Bay (in Bowlegs Cut, Steamboat Channel and Cowpens Cut). All of these time series will be used to verify simulated currents in the corresponding part of the model, and under the same wind conditions.

FY98: This data collection effort will be continued through the end of June 1998. Data analysis will be continued through the spring of 1999 with present funding. The activity is not required after that since the ACoE model will be fully verified and on-line and the geographic scope of this project is comparatively limited.

The principal deliverable of this project will be delivery to the ACoE of the interior Bay station data needed to complete verification of their circulation model (Q4).

Monitoring and Evaluation of Radar Measured Rain Estimate over Florida Bay and the Everglades, Marks and Willis

Objective: This project was initiated in the late summer of 1995 and the first flights were made in the early fall of 1995. Its objective is the tuning of radar rain estimation algorithms so that the NEXRAD data now being generated from the Miami site, and the newly commissioned Key West site, can be effectively used to accurately characterize the rainfall amount and distribution over the peninsula and Florida Bay. The present rain gage network is simply too sparse and inaccurate given the highly convective nature of rainfall events in the Florida Bay/Everglades system, to provide an adequate measure of the rainfall input to the system.

Accomplishments: The standard NEXRAD algorithms were developed largely for non-tropical conditions, and may not be applicable to this system. The best possible NEXRAD product is the only way to obtain the requisite data. Airborne rain drop distributions, a continuous point measurement of surface distributions from a distrometer at the Everglades Research Center, and surface measurements from a mobile van, as well as all available rain gage data, are being used to tune the radar-rain algorithm for the specific conditions that prevail over the Florida Bay/Everglades system. Preliminary NEXRAD rainfall products have been made available on the Internet at http://storm.rsmas.miami.edu/~jgottsch/fbay.html .

FY98: To date, the NEXRAD hydrologic product, the Digital Precipitation Array (DPA) has been archived. This product has been found to have serious shortcomings as a product to meet the needs of Florida Bay freshwater input. At many sites, the product seriously underestimates the rainfall at rainfall rates greater than about 8 mm/hr. To better define the nature of this problem and the necessary corrections or adjustments, a rather large sample of raw, full resolution radar data will be compared to an extensive gage data set over Florida Bay and the Everglades area. After FY99 we anticipate this project will shift from a research to an operational mode and will require no further SFERPM support.

The principal deliverable of this project in FY98 will be a rigorous statistical analysis of NEXRAD predicted rainfall and rain gage data leading to an improved algorithm formulation approach (Q4).

The SEAKEYS/C-MAN Project: Environmental Monitoring of the Florida Keys and Florida Bay, Ogden et al.

Background: The Florida Institute of Oceanography's (FIO) SEAKEYS (Sustained Ecological Research Related to Management of the Florida Keys Seascape) program began in 1989 and has continued until the present. This program, now being supported through NOAA's South Florida Ecosystem Restoration, Prediction and Modeling Program (SFERPM), implements a framework for long-term monitoring and research along the 220 mile Florida coral reef tract and in Florida Bay at a geographical scale encompassing the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS). The impetus for such a framework was the perceived marked regional decline in coral reefs and the critical need to provide data and options for resource management. The network consists of six instrument-enhanced Coastal-Marine Automated Network (C-MAN) stations, cooperatively managed with NOAA's National Data Buoy Center, plus a proposed new one in northwest Florida Bay. These stations measure the usual C-MAN meteorological parameters, such as wind speed, gusts and barometric pressure, but are enhanced with oceanographic instruments measuring salinity, sea temperature, fluorometry and turbidity.

Accomplishments:

FY98: In FY98 all upgrades will be completed and backup instrumentation sensors will be purchased minimizing the time off-line for any single station. Software improvements will be a principal focus of the data processing side of the project.

The principal deliverables of this project in FY98 include first bringing on line the NW Florida Bay station (Q4) and second, the coding and initial testing of a neural net expert system utilizing these in cooperation with the FKNMS to assist them in predicting events such as coral-bleaching (Q4).

¨Characterization of the Florida Bay ecosystem and documenting an understanding of the processes responsible for rapid changes during the past few decades is the goal of the following biological projects and one geological/paleoecological project.

Circulation, Nutrient Influx, and Phytoplankton Growth in Florida Bay: G. Hitchcock and G. Vargo

Objectives: Given ambient nutrient concentrations in Florida Bay and the adjacent SW Florida Shelf and the results of ongoing circulation studies indicating substantial exchange and interconnection between the western Bay and the SW Shelf (see Lee et al.), it is apparent that nutrient flux across the western boundary of the Bay represents an appreciable component of the overall nutrient budget within the Bay. Moreover, these waters are the ones most likely to impact the FKNMS. The objective of this study is to document that flux and determine how it is effecting phytoplankton growth/algal bloom generation.

Accomplishments: This project began near the end of FY97 with $50K in funding provided by NOS as part of their Integrated Ecosystem Monitoring Program. Specifically the investigators were charged with augmenting the Lee et al. Physical Circulation Study by sampling nutrients along a transect line from the Dry Tortugas to Cape Romano. At the same time they took the opportunity to begin work on other aspects of the problem including measurements of phytoplankton growth on some of the cruises. Data is just becoming available and will be discussed at the Annual Florida Bay Science Conference

FY98: In FY98 this program will be expanded to address its full set of objectives using SFERPM funds made available by the termination of some projects and Program funds used in FY97 for acquisition of a small boat. A joint RV/CALANUS small boat cruise is planned for June 1998 during which a Lagrangian tracer study will be performed over a one week period near the western boundary. We also anticipate receiving again $50K in funding from NOS to permit continuation of the Cape Romano-Dry Tortugas line since is was given the highest priority within the base funding (no increase) scenario for Integrated Ecosystem Monitoring.

The principal FY98 deliverable from this project will be conducting a Lagrangian process study of flow into and through the western Bay (Q4) and dissemination of the nutrient transect data at the annual Florida Bay Science Conference (Q3).

Fish Recruitment, Growth, and Habitat Use in Florida Bay, Hoss et al.

Objective: This project repeats a survey of the Bay conducted by some of the same scientists a decade ago to address changes in the distribution and abundance of living resources in Florida Bay, and the response to declining seagrasses, increased plankton blooms and altered salinity conditions relative to the previous decade.

Accomplishments: Bay-wide sampling is demonstrating that there are numerous areas of the Bay where seagrasses have declined considerably since 1984, and that there have been changes in the spatial distribution and densities of resident fish and shellfish. Changes in the composition of the fishery community also are being observed relative to 1984-85, specifically increases are seen in Gobiosoma robustum and Harengula jaguana and decreases in rainwater killifish. The changes noted continue to indicate a shift from a benthic-epibenthic feeding community, in large areas of the Bay, to one dominated by planktivores. This latter noted shift is an extremely significant result as emphasized by the Science Review Panel. While icthyoplankton aspects of this study will continue within the COP program the pure habitat aspects will henceforth receive support from the NMFS Living Marine Resources program.

FY98: This coming year the focus will be upon sea trout and bay anchovy. Both species were minor constituents a decade ago but are dominant species today. Current research emphasizes functional responses such as growth and recruitment of fish and shellfish in relationship to habitat changes that may accompany restoration activities in the Everglades and in Florida Bay. These responses will be incorporated in ecosystem models of Florida Bay in order to better predict consequences of human activities in south Florida as they effect important commercial and recreational fisheries resources.

The principal product of this effort in FY98 will be the data analysis presented in the Upper Trophic Level section of the Florida Bay Science Conference (Q3).

Experimental Investigations of Salinity and Nutrient Effects on Florida Bay Plankton and Larval Sea Trout, Clarke and Bollens

Objective: Dramatic changes in the biota of Florida Bay have occurred over at least the past decade. Several environmental parameters have been postulated to be the causal factors in these changes, chief among them increasing salinity and eutrophication. However, the effects of changing salinity and nutrient conditions on the plankton community are poorly known and understood. To identify the causal mechanisms underlying these changes and, thus, be able to predict future ecosystem response, requires going beyond simple monitoring of long term environmental trends (for which few data on plankton exist in any event) and applying field and laboratory experiments employing well replicated and controlled treatments. We are conducting such a set of experiments, the results of which can help provide a basis for the analysis of historical changes in the Bay and thus guide future management decisions on its restoration.

Accomplishments: This project was initiated in late summer 1998. It uses well-controlled and heavily replicated experimental mesocosms to investigate the importance of salinity and nutrients in controlling the plankton dynamics in Florida Bay. The first experiment conducted tested the effects of salinity (23 ambient, 42 ppt) on the composition and abundance of phytoplankton, protozoan, zooplankton and larval fish.

A raft was constructed in protected waters adjacent to the Keys Marine Laboratory and from it a series of 2.3 m3 polyethylene enclosures were suspended. Plankton and larval sea trout were stocked in the bags at natural densities and salinities were manipulated by adding DI water or saline to ambient subsurface seawater. This first experiment was just successfully completed. Our next experiment will include experimental manipulation of nutrients in enclosures.

FY98: In FY98 a series of additional experiments will be performed in the test facility just constructed. Experimental variables will include not only salinity but also nutrient concentration.

The principal FY98 deliverable will be creation of test facility in Marathon (Q2) and dissemination of initial experimental results at the annual Florida Bay Science Conference (Q3).

Trophic Pathways in the Pelagic Environment of Florida Bay, Dagg et al.

Objective: Surprisingly, no quantitative zooplankton data was available for Florida Bay prior to the inception of this study. It seeks to answer the following questions:

1) What is the importance of zooplankton consumption in Florida Bay and how does this vary within the Bay as the salinity and temperature distributions change throughout the seasonal cycle?

2) What is the relative abundance of micro zooplankton and macro zooplankton and how does this vary within the Bay as the salinity and temperature distributions change throughout the seasonal cycle?

3) What species and types of zooplankton and/or micro zooplankton are the primary food of larval and near juvenile fishes and how does their distribution vary within the Bay as a function of temperature and salinity throughout the seasonal cycle?

Accomplishments:

FY98: In FY98 bimonthly sampling will be continued along with additional western Bay, SW Florida Shelf sampling provided by the Lee et al. physical oceanographic cruises. Data will be put in the appropriate form and provided to the pelagic ecosystem modeling effort. Collaboration with FDEP will continue in regard to synoptic primary production estimation.

The principal deliverable of this project in FY98 will be a first order estimation of the percent of phytoplankton production consumed by zooplankton (Q3). This is required to parameterize the model described below.

Development of Models to Describe Ecosystem Interactions in Florida Bay, Jackson and Burd

Objective: First, to analyze existing data for representative basins to estimate the nutrient and carbon flows between different planktonic trophic groups and their interactions with the benthos; second, to develop models to explore the dynamics of interactions among the different planktonic groups.

Accomplishments: This project was initiated in late summer 1997. Currently, two models of the plankton system are being developed. The first project is to develop estimates of all the important material flows by using an inverse technique; the second project is to use the flow estimates to construct and test dynamic models of the planktonic system. In all of this, there will be a constant examination of the extent of interactions between benthic and planktonic systems.

A preliminary description of carbon flows in Duck Key basin using different data available has been developed. Investigators hope to add ammonia and nitrate supply from the sediments, C and N supply from seagrass production, and C and N losses to benthic suspension feeders. They will also add an extra trophic level to account for fish interactions with the plankton. They will investigate if it is useful to divide phytoplankton into two classes to differentiate between the smaller forms, such as Synechococcus, from the larger diatoms and dinoflagellates. If there is sufficient information, losses and gains associated with advection from separate basins will be addressed.

Fasham et al. (1990) have developed a simple model of planktonic systems. Parts of the model, such as those describing the effect of mixed layer changes, are inappropriate for shallow Florida Bay and will be omitted from out model. Several new compartments need to be added for describing a basin in Florida Bay, where the small alga Synechococcus and associated micro zooplankton dominate in some areas and larger diatoms, dinoflagellates and zooplankton dominate in others. Adding a second phytoplankton species and a second zooplankton species will allow investigators to describe the interactions between two different food webs; adding a fish compartment will allow us to study the role of planktivorous fish. In addition, mortality terms corresponding to benthic filter feeding, detrital and DOM release rates typical of seagrass systems, and terms describing lateral exchange will be added.

FY98: These modeling studies should synthesize the results of many of the field studies being made in the Florida Bay. At the least, this work should show where there are crucial gaps in our understanding that need to be studied and should help us to understand the nature of size-structured systems in coastal environments. Hopefully, these models will provide tools which can be used for management purposes. Among the predictions which may be possible will be estimates of light irradiances in the sea grass beds as functions of anthropogenic inputs and insights into factors affecting fish production.

The principal FY98 deliverable will be initial model formulation and encoding including preliminary parameter estimation (Q4).

Pools and Fluxes of Nutrients in Florida Bay Sediments, Szmant et al.

Objective: Florida Bay has experienced extensive algal blooms since 1992. One contributing factor may nutrient loading from decaying sea grass and resuspension of destabilized barren sediment patches. The objective of this project is to determine the relationship between present-day sediment nutrients and algal blooms by mapping the distribution of sediment nutrient concentrations (pore water ammonium, nitrate, phosphate, total N, total P, silicate, and bulk sediment N and P), and nutrient efflux rates as measured by core incubations.

Accomplishments:

FY98: In FY98 field sampling will be continued to provide at least first order estimates of the contribution to water column nutrients arising from sediment resuspension events.

The principal FY98 deliverable is data on the flux of nutrients from Bay sediments into the water column as required by the ACoE/WES Water Quality Model (Q3).

The Role of Groundwater Nutrient Fluxes in the Nutrient Budget of Florida Bay, Burnett et al.

Objective: We have hypothesized that groundwater may be a significant source of nutrients to the Florida Bay ecosystem. Specifically, we are testing the hypotheses that phosphate-rich groundwater may be moving through an ancient coarse-grained siliciclastic river bed that makes its way from central Florida to underneath north central and northwest Florida Bay; and that sewage from septic tanks in the Florida Keys may travel through groundwater into Florida Bay. The siliciclastic channel appears to be a plausible source of phosphate (the primary limiting nutrient in most of Florida Bay and other South Florida coastal waters) because it will not chemically scavenge phosphate from groundwater the way limestone does. Furthermore, it runs through phosphate rich deposits in central Florida and contains phosphorite granules.

Accomplishments:

FY98: Additional data will be collected and similarly analyzed. It will also be compared to groundwater pressure head data (USGS) being collected upstream of sampling sites. It will be critical to obtain data over one or more seasons and particularly over a range of rainfall conditions. Unfortunately the project to date has sampled a particularly rainy period.

The principal FY98 deliverable is data on the flux of nutrients from groundwater into the water column as required by the ACoE/WES Water Quality Model (Q3).

Atmospheric Deposition of Nitrogen and Phosphorus to the South Florida Bay Ecosystems, Whung et al.

Objective: Measurements of nutrient input from wet deposition processes are limited in South Florida, with only one station located at the Everglades National Park. The dry deposition rate is largely unknown. Dry deposition of nitrogen can be in the form of both gas-phase (HNO3), and particulate form (NO3- and NH4+) in both small and coarse aerosols. The objective of this project is to assess the relative importance of the atmosphere as a source of nutrients to Florida Bay. This was identified by the Oversight Panel of the Interagency Florida Bay Science Program as a major unknown. This study is intended to yield:

Accomplishments: One monitoring station (Keys Marine Laboratory) is up and running.

FY98: When the setup at the Keys Marine Lab is debugged, this project will collaborate with FIO and USF to install a second air monitoring systems at the NW corner of the bay on the C-MAN/SEAKEYS platform. This has already been constructed and is in the process of being instrumented (see Ogden et al. above).

The principal FY98 deliverable is data on the flux of nutrients from the atmosphere into the Bay water column as required by the ACoE/WES Water Quality Model (Q4).

The Role of Suspended Calcium Carbonate in the Phosphorus Cycle in Florida Bay, Miller and Zhang

Objective: Biogenic calcium carbonates (calcite and aragonite) are the major components both in the suspended material and in the sediments in Florida Bay, and are likely to be the important chemical mechanism of phosphate removal. There have been few systematic measurements of the carbonate system and its relationship to nutrient availability. The objective of this project is to combining field measurements with critical laboratory studies to understand this complex relationship.

Accomplishments:

FY98: In FY98 field data will continue to be collected in collaboration with the alternate bimonthly cruises of Dagg et al. (see above) and Lee et al. (see above). In the laboratory the adsorption of phosphate onto carbonate surfaces as a function of phosphate concentration will be studied. Combined with the kinetic data and other experimental results, the interaction mechanism of phosphate with carbonate will be elucidated.

Future laboratory investigations of phosphate interaction with calcium carbonate will include studies to quantify the effects of external factors such as temperature and salinity on the adsorption process. The effects of natural organic matter and iron oxide on the surface properties will also be investigated using suspended sediment collected during future research cruises.

The principal FY98 deliverable is a quantitative initial assessment of the relationship between dissolved and particulate water column calcium carbonate and the availability of phosphorous for plant productivity as required by the ACoE/WES Water Quality Model (Q3).

The Sediment Record as a Monitor of Natural and Anthropogenic Changes in the Lower Everglades/Florida Bay Ecosystem, Nelsen et al.

Objective: The objective of this project is to understand the relative roles and importance of daily sedimentation/transport versus impacts of event-driven episodes of sedimentation on this ecosystem by reconstructing the history (the last 100+ years) of the critical interface between lower-peninsula Florida/Everglades and the Florida Bay. This information is essential to set restoration objectives.

Accomplishments:

FY98: This project has been tasked with providing the ACOE Restudy estimates of the natural range of salinity variation within the Bay and adjacent upstream embayments over the past 100 years. The information is essential to evaluate restoration alternatives. A paleoecology workshop recently sponsored by the interagency PMC has yielded specific recommendations on how this effort and the USGS one can most fruitfully be integrated in the future. In FY99 and beyond we anticipate that these investigators will be funded primarily through the USGS.

The principal FY98 deliverable from this project will be a summary report to the Florida Bay PMC as to the Bay salinity history which the PMC is charged with providing the ACoE Restudy (Q4).

¨Only one study of anthropogenic pollution was funded by the NOAA SFERPM program in FY97. It was continued because initial results suggest it is potentially relevant to pelagic ecosystem and upper trophic level ecosystem effects. As previously agreed with NMFS (see FY97 SFERPM Implementation Plan) it will be supported by NMFS and the EPA in FY98 and beyond.

Monitoring of Pesticides and Chemical Contaminants, Scott et al.

Objective: Endosulfan is used heavily on vegetable crops in South Florida and has a high acute toxicity potential. The objective of this project was to determine if it is entering Florida Bay or likely to enter it at ecologically significant concentrations.

Accomplishments: Results indicate that during 1993-95 the presence of endosulfan and other pesticides was detected in agricultural areas and surface waters from Florida Bay. Approximately, 5.6% of the bay sites sampled had endosulfan concentrations which exceeded the marine water quality criteria (0.0085 ug/l) while 3.3% of the sites sampled had concentrations which exceeded the freshwater water quality criteria (0.056 ug/l) for endosulfan. Data for the spatial distributions of endosulfan II suggest that the source of the endosulfan is from agricultural runoff. Results of chronic toxicity potential tests of study-area sediments indicated significant (p <0.05) impact on the marine benthic copepod Amphiascus tenuiremis.

FY98: Relative to non-point source pollution, the EPA and state environmental agencies have the overall lead and have begun a sampling program in conjunction with this NOAA project. SFERPM funding for this exploratory project ended in FY97.

The principal FY98 deliverable from this project will be a final report estimating the potential risk to the Florida Bay ecosystem of endosulfans introduced from agricultural runoff as the result of changes in water management practices (Q3).

D. Applications From FY97 Funded Projects

Management Applications. The long-term goal of research, such as the work currently sponsored for south Florida, is that the products of these research efforts ultimately manifest themselves in tangible benefits to the environment and economy. To do so, it must be applicable to the managerial decision-making process at all levels and the projects funded herein are designed to fulfill such a role either directly or indirectly. Relative to the latter, the products of many scientific projects will find their applicability over a longer time horizon by providing environmental data as ground truth to modeling efforts. On a shorter time horizon, some benefits have become available for such decision making as the research progresses as in the following examples:

Agricultural area and the Frog Pond in terms of their affect upon pollutant introduction. Prior to this water quantity and timing were being considered.

Partnerships Funded or Built Through this Program. Partnerships benefit programs in today's research climate by increasing the resource pool in terms of expertise and in leveraging funding. Partnerships encouraged by the NOAA South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Prediction and Modeling include, but are not limited to, the following:

FY98 OVERALL PLAN

A. Background

Under the RFP issued by SFERPM in FY97, all projects were awarded two-year contracts subject to the availability of FY98 funds. Two of those projects, however, were scheduled to be continued with NMFS funding in FY98 and are, therefore, no longer part of the FY98 SFERPM program. In FY98 SFERPM is essentially level funded. While COP is by far the major contributor, other NOAA line organizations as well as the National Park Service are making significant contributions (Figure 1).

As in FY97, research, monitoring, and modeling projects are supported. Within NOAA, three line organizations (OAR/AOML and ARL, NMFS/SFSC. and NOS) are major participants in the SFERPM program, but the majority of SFERPM COP funding goes to academic university participants (Figure 2). In addition to these science activities, Florida Sea Grant will continue to receive level funding in FY98 for conducting an Outreach/Education program on behalf of the entire Interagency Science Program in Florida Bay. A complete list of the FY98 awards is given in Appendix II. Individual project activities were earlier.

B. Management and Operations

NOAA/OAR/AOML will continue to be responsible for program management, data management/administration, and small boat operations. As in years past, explicit funding will be required for program management. Given the expanded scope of the effort, the position of Executive Director has been established to give the Program Management Committee Chair the requisite staff assistance. Program management funding also contributes to data management (where we have taken the lead on behalf of the overall Interagency Science Program in Florida Bay), interagency meeting/workshop support, and secretarial support services. Program management funds are also being used to equip, maintain and operate a dedicated SFERPM trailerable research vessel as previously mentioned.

OUTLOOK (FUTURE YEARS)

A. FY99

Environmental Research & Modeling. It is generally agreed that the problems in the coastal ecosystem (particularly in Florida Bay) are exacerbated during unusually dry weather. With drought, the first priority for water managers has been to sustain the flows required for agriculture and the water demands of the human population. As such, hypersalinity (possibly the preconditions for seagrass die off) results. The last two years, however, have experienced much greater than average rainfall and now with El Nino well upon us, this year is likely to be the wettest of the century! Because of this anomalous situation, our plan for FY99 is to fund essentially the same projects without a formal RFP process (assuming satisfactory progress as indicated by TAP review of mandated submissions to the SFERPM program office). This extension will, we hope, afford the opportunity of sampling at least a normal, if not a dry, rainfall period. The same strategy is being undertaken by our partners in the Interagency Florida Bay Science Program subject to availability of funds within their agencies and is consistent with the long-range climate forecasts currently available.

Risk Assessment/Socioeconomic Analysis. Our FY97 Plan was developed with the expectation of a $1.9M request for SFERPM in the Administration's FY99 budget. It called for initiating a comparatively small Risk Assessment and Socioeconomic Analysis. This was not done last year for reasons discussed above. As noted therein, future involvement in the latter area was dependent upon the outcome of a Socioeconomic SubGroup Planning Workshop being convened under the auspices of the South Florida Ecosystem Task Force Working Group and the Governor's Commission. Our sense is that this topic has become moot. At the direction of the Governors Commission the Army Corps of Engineers has already initiated a three year $5M regional socioeconomic predictive analysis and the subject is moreover one of the principal foci of the present NOS South Florida Integrated Coastal Ecosystem Monitoring initiative. Since other funding sources appear to be sufficiently addressing socioeconomic concerns, we have no plans to do so with a SFERPM RFP.

Community Outreach/Education. FY99 will be a pivotal year for this effort and the onus will be on Florida Sea Grant to unequivocally establish the utility of this activity to our partners in the interagency program beyond assistance in conducting the Annual Conference in which they have been invaluable. In subsequent years (see below) SFERPM will no longer have sufficient resources to continue this project at the same level and if that is required the additional funds will have to come from collaborating. federal and state agencies.

B. FY2000 and Beyond: Collaborative Planning and Fiscal Leveraging

COP initiated SFERPM prior to the NOAA South Florida Ecosystem Initiative request using substantial base funds. These funds are scheduled for other uses in FY2000 and beyond. Accordingly, SFERPM must consider how best to accommodate a substantial reduction in award able funds. Our plan includes termination of project areas scheduled for completion as well the transition of all or part of some project areas from a research to an operational mode or to more appropriate funding sources. A dialogue between SFERPM and both NOS and NMFS (as well as with other federal agencies such as USGS) has already been initiated in this regard. This change can be accommodated within the South Florida Ecosystem Initiative budget requests for Ecosystem Monitoring (NOS) and Living Marine Resources (NMFS) respectively. In principal projects with substantial ecosystem monitoring components would be either transferred in their entirety to NOS or the monitoring aspects of the activities underwritten by NOS and projects directed specifically at commercial or recreational fisheries would be transferred to NMFS. In addition, we are already discussing with our interagency PMC partners, collectively, the desirability of other agencies contributing to the PMC’s Community Education & Outreach effort when we are no longer able to fund it entirely with SFERPM funds. These plans are depicted in the accompanying GANTT chart (Figure 3) that depicts funding year cycles rather than actual project durations (at present offset by a half year or more).

In spring of FY99, we plan a fully competitive RFP process to again make two-year awards (FY2000 and FY2001) for research and modeling projects. This will permit decisions as to individual proposals prior to FY2000 and will put us in closer synchrony with the fiscal year cycle. Evolution in principal investigators and their attendant perspectives is essential if SFERPM is to evolve and to remain responsive to the needs of SFER and the interagency program. Based on our experience in SABRE, a renewed competitive announcement will result in the necessary evolution. The RFP would likely address the same general project areas along with specifically soliciting "Additional Nutrient Studies - Water Quality Model Support" being added (see Figure 3). A Water Quality model has become a high priority for the interagency Florida Bay PMC and its oversight panel and one is currently being developed under its aegis by WES of the Army Corps of Engineers (ACoE). The Dept of Defense will not, however, be able to support the process research currently deemed relevant and is looking to NOAA and the EPA to provide those critical data. No further detail about the FY2000/FY2001 RFP can be provided at this juncture. As in previous years we will endeavor to be as responsive as possible to the guidance provided the interagency program by its Oversight Panel after each Annual Florida Bay Science Conference. The next conference is scheduled for May 12-14, 1998 in Miami.

FY2001 ($1.3M) would be similar to FY2000 ($1.3M) and would represent the final year of full COP/SFER funding. In FY2002 funds would be reduced for the remaining activities to 50% ($650K) of the FY96-2001 level and in FY2003 to 25% ($325K). COP, but not NOAA, involvement is seen as terminating in FY2004 ($0). By then activities will be predominately operational (or monitoring) and the role of basic research much reduced. Monitoring the success of restoration is, however, seen as an essential NOAA task that may extend for considerably longer than the COP/SFERPM program as Restoration efforts progress upstream.

C. Projected Resource Issues

We anticipate that OAR will continue to provide 60 days per fiscal year of leased ship time for the RV/CALANUS or its replacement vessel as an award to CIMAS. Subject to funding a letter of commitment to this effect was provided earlier this year. The replacement vessel is to come on line in the fall of 1999. Continuing this chartered ship time, along with the small high-speed catamaran purchased by SFERPM but operated through the RSMAS Marine Department, will cover all anticipated ship time requirements through FY2000. When the NEXRAD rainfall project becomes operational, it will no longer require aircraft time. Until that point, it will be provided as part of the base allotment provided to AOML’s Hurricane Research Division.