Florida Bay Inner Basin Transport Studies -
In response to the Announcement of Funding Opportunity by the CSCOR/COP South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Prediction and Modeling Program (SFP) we conducted a two year study of the circulation and exchange processes that regulate the residence times and flushing rates within the NE basin of Florida Bay (Fig. 1). This project was conducted through CIMAS, Task 3, Theme 3: Coastal Ocean Ecosystem Processes. The overall goal was to improve understanding of the effects of modifying fresh water supply to the Everglades as part of Everglades restoration plans. It was uncertain how proposed changes in water delivery, with increased fresh water flows to Shark River and Taylor Slough would affect salinity variability within Florida Bay. The primary objectives were to quantify the circulation and exchange rates influencing salinity variability in the eastern regions of the Bay that directly receive fresh water discharge from a series of small rivers along the northern border (Fig. 1) and to determine their interactions with connecting regions, as well as to identify the controlling physical processes. This information is needed to aid evolution and evaluation of hydrodynamic models for prediction of future water deliveries.
Beginning 2001 a sequence of process studies of Florida Bay interior basin circulation and exchange processes was begun using moored arrays of current, temperature, salinity and bottom pressure recorders deployed over dry (winter/spring) and wet (summer/fall) seasons. Moored observations of circulation and water renewal rates of the shallow inner basins were begun in Whipray Basin (WB) in the north-central region of Florida Bay where hypersalinity develops in the dry season. Moored measurements were made in the dry and wet seasons of 2001 in the 4 larger flow channels to the basin, together with salinity surveys, drifter releases and sea level measurements. The observational program was focused on determining water and salt flux between WB and the adjacent regions of Florida Bay from direct measurements of current velocity, salinity, temperature and sea level with the goal of estimating residence times and improving our understanding of the physical processes involved. WB was chosen for this central basin study as it is highly isolated by surrounding mud banks and mangrove islands, receives little river discharge except during intense wet periods, and develops extreme hypersalinity during droughts.
Fig. 1. Location of moored current, temperature and salinity stations of the inner basins study (colored dots) and river discharge and volume transport sites of USGS.