May 9, 2012

Hydromap reveals "inner workings" of swamp

Ever wish you could see all the data all at once?

That's what this map tries to do.

The above map provides a hydrologic snapshot of Big Cypress Nat'l Preserve for May 6, 2012.  The map makes use of real-time data available through SFWMD, USGS and NPS monitoring networks.  Depth of surface water flooding in the swamp's interior is displayed "cypress tree" symbols.  Drought severity is shown the the presence and color-coding (orange, red, dark red) of the flames.  Canal/wetland interactions are shown by the "stop light" symbols, blue meaning water is over flowing the banks (LOOP1) and red indicating that the water surface is deep down in the canal (Sweetwater BCA11).  Headwater and tailwater pooling behind the L28 and L29 levees is shown by the "structure" symbol.  Navigability of the Turner River is shown by color-coding of the canoe.  I update this map on a weekly basis.  Last note: Can you see how stage in the northern half of the swamp is higher than Lake Okeechobee (11.68 ft msl)?  Compare that to the elevation of Lake Trafford which is over 7 ft higher at 18.14 ft msl.

While it may look confusing at first,

I also opens up the can of worms that is the hydrology of the swamp.

The map displays a hydrologic snapshot of Big Cypress Nat’l Preserve for May 6, 2012. To create it (1) I grabbed the most recent data from all the stations within and adjacent to the preserve and then (2) coded into the symbols and colors you see on the screen. The cypress trees show ecohydrology (i.e. wetland water depth), the white numbers show stage above mean sea level, the structures show headwater/tailwater pooling (behind levees), the flames show drought severity, navigability on Turner River is shown by the canoe, and the “stop light” symbol shows canal/wetland interaction.

For anyone interested, I update the map weekly and post it here.

Here's a closer look at the symbols
used to describe the hydrology on the map

What does the map say for this particular day?

This is the interesting time of year when the swamp is half flooded and half dry. On the east side of the preserve (i.e. right) you can see the “cypress tree symbols” are lighted up, thus indicating the presences of surface water (at various levels as color coded) in those areas. Compare that to the northern (i.e. top) and western (i.e. left) portions of the preserve where “flame symbols” are still lighted up (red and orange). That indicates lingering drought severity in those areas.

Now here’s where it gets complicated.

Can you see the “stop light” reminiscent symbols used to show the interaction between canals and wetlands. Sweetwater (i.e. BCA11) lights up as red, indicating that water levels have dropped deep down into the canal. Compare that to the LOOP1 monitoring station at the east end of Loop Road where the water level in the canal is still flooding up and over into the adjacent wetland. Why the difference? At LOOP1 water is leaking in from the adjacent Everglades where water stage (8.14 ft msl) is over a half foot higher than at the LOOP1 station.

This hydrograph makes a little more sense
when cross-referenced to the map.

Speaking of the Everglades …

Click here to see a sneak peak for a similar map over there.

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