Oct 24, 2014

As the (swamp) water cycle turns

All our staff gages are numbered in “tenths of a foot.”

If we could label them by “habitat type” this is what they might look like instead.

The above animation shows the annual
rise and fall of the water table

The swamp appears to have peaked for the year.

That's not unusual.  By late October water levels are usually on their way down.  This year however the fall peak was not as high as usual.  The hydric pines saw water for three months and the higher mesic pines none at all (other than from direct rain). The long-term trend is for waters to rise shallowly into the hydric and mesic pinelands for around 15 and 3 weeks per year, respectively … usually during late summer and early fall.


D oes that mean a "dry" dry season is in the works?


This years rise of the water table in the swamp was not as high as previous years.  Hydric pines shallowly flooded for three months, but mesic pines remained dry.


Answer: (click read more below.)
Too soon to tell. We are low for late October but we enter the dry season with an El Niño still in the forecast.  That could stoke winter rains which keep soils soggy enough to keep deep drought at bay.

The graph above reports rainfall, water depth and discharge rate for Big Cypress Nat'l Preserve from 2012 to present.  Color coding is used to show ecological and statistical thresholds.

As usual, we'll know when it happens.

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