Mar 12, 2014

Dry as "moist cornbread" out there

The day I arrived in the swamp I was told to throw my textbooks away.

Many standard hydrologic definitions simply do not fit.

The corn chowder to popcorn spectrum is a good way to conceptualize drought (at a landscape level) in the Big Cypress Swamp and Everglades ecosystems.

Take for example the word drought.

Usually drought means drought, both sky and ground.

But in south Florida those two realms get split in two.

The term drought still applies well for the sky. The term I like to use for the saturation level on the ground, i.e. in the wetlands, is parchedness.

Surface water saturation levels vary seasonally in the Big Cypress Swamp. On the far left is the high water "corn chowder" condition when a sheet of water covers almost the entire swamp, even up into the pine high ground. In the middle is the shoulder season when water is still plentiful in the low lying cypress domes, strands and marshes, but the marl prairies, i.e. corn bread, is dry. On the far right, is the dry-as-popcorn season when surface water is virtually absent everywhere.

That's where the corn chowder to popcorn spectrum comes into play.

Currently we're at a moist cornbread.

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