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Climate Change in the Everglades, Florida, USA – March 22nd, 2013

25.8N 81.3W

March 22nd, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Image of the day, Wetlands

USA – March 21st, 2013

Visible along the southwestern part of the tip of Florida, USA is the Everglades National Park. Nearly flat and perched on the edge of a rising ocean, the park is already feeling the effects of a warming climate. Sea level rise has brought significant changes that are already being observed on the landscape, and more will likely be seen in the years ahead.

The environment of south Florida and the Everglades is unique because of its low elevation and subtropical climate. Along the coast, seasonal pulses of freshwater from the north meet the constant fluctuation of the tides that nurture several distinct ecosystems, including buttonwood forests. These coastal communities are home to many rare and endangered plants such as tropical orchids and herbs, some of which are found only in south Florida.

Unfortunately, these species’ special home is in danger because the habitat is changing, in part, due to sea level rise-causing the salinization of groundwater and the soils above. It is unclear whether or not these species can tolerate the increased salinity that will come as sea level continues to rise due to climate change.

Scientists measure water levels throughout the park-including the many inland, freshwater habitats. The water level in these areas varies with changes in rainfall and freshwater flow as well as influences from ocean tides. Over the last 50 years, the scientists have observed an increase in the water level at some inland, freshwater sites in the park that is consistent in pace with the observed increase in regional sea level. Though it is presently unclear why this correlation exists, and what implications it might have for the freshwater environments of the Everglades, it does suggest the influence of sea level rise may reach far inland (click here for more information).

Florida Everglades and Sediments in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea – December 25th, 2012

24.3N 86.2W

December 25th, 2012 Category: Image of the day, Sediments

USA, Mexico and Cuba – December 22nd, 2012

Sediments can be seen along the southwestern coast of Florida, USA (upper right), in the Gulf of Batabanó, Cuba (center right), along the western and northern coasts of the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico (lower left) and by the Mississippi River Delta in Louisiana, USA (upper left). In the former three, the bright, light color is in part due to sediments and in part due to shallower depths.

Of particular note in Florida are the Everglades. Beginning in 1948 with the creation of the Central and Southern Florida (C&SF) Flood Control Project, much of the original greater Everglades ecosystem was drained in an effort to create a system of canals and dikes that would control the flow of water and accommodate agriculture and urban development. Some 50 percent of the original Everglades has been lost to agriculture and development but the majority of the remaining original Everglades acreage is now protected in a national park, national wildlife refuge, and water conservation areas.

Florida Everglades and Nearby Cities of Miami, Fort Myers and Port Charlotte

26.1N 80.9W

December 12th, 2010 Category: Lakes, Sediments

USA - December 10th, 2010

The Everglades at the tip of the Florida Peninsula, USA, appear an intense, dark green color near the shore and brownish further inland, while the waters around them and the islands of the Florida Keys are bright teal.

Moving from the southwest to the southeast coast, the city of Miami and other nearby urban areas appear greyish in color. The cities of Port Charlotte and Fort Myers can be observed on the opposite coast, also appearing as a greyish tan area, by the Charlotte Harbor Estuary. Between the two coastal urban areas, Lake Okeechobee can be noted, partially covered by white clouds.

Miami, Between Everglades and Lake Okeechobee, USA

25.7N 80.2W

November 18th, 2010 Category: Lakes, Sediments, Wetlands

USA - November 9th, 2010

Although most of the coastline of the state of Florida is framed by greenish sediments, they are particularly concentrated in and around the Everglades, at the southern tip of the peninsula.

Visible north of the Everglades is a large, rounded, dark blue body of water: Lake Okeechobee. The city of Miami and its surrounding urban conglomeration can be observed along the east coast between the lake and the everglades.

Everglades and Lakes on the Florida Peninsula, USA

October 27th, 2010 Category: Lakes, Rivers

USA - October 15th, 2010

Sediments line the coast of Florida, particularly on the western side of the peninsula and near the tip, between the Everglades wetlands and the chain of islands known as the Florida Keys. On the eastern side, the cities of Miami and Fort Lauderdale can be seen sprawling along the coast to the right of the Everglades.

The large, dark blue body of water in the southern half of the peninsula is Lake Okeechobee, while the smaller, bright green lake to the north (best observed in the full image) is Lake Apopka. To its north is a thick, dark blue band lying parallel to the east coast – this is the St. Johns River.