Oct. 18, 2018
West Palm Beach, FL – The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) for the past few years has been engaged in a study to determine how saltwater intrusion caused by sea level rise is impacting the peat that makes up much of the habitat in America's Everglades.
Peat soils consist of decomposed plant materials that accumulate very slowly over hundreds of years. Saltwater intrusion changes the characteristics of peat soils such that the land area may collapse by several feet. When this breakdown of peat soils happens, it allows salt water to further advance and harm the Everglades.
"This study represents just one of the various methods for assessing the impacts of sea level rise undertaken by the District," said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Federico Fernandez. "The study is also aligned with the recommendations of the Committee on Independent Scientific Review of Everglades Restoration Progress (CISRERP) for assessing the potential impact of sea level rise on Everglades restoration efforts."
CISRERP, an independent scientific panel that examines efforts to implement projects that are part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), recently released its Seventh Biennial "Progress Towards Restoring the Everglades" Report. In the report, the panel applauded the District's ongoing effort to improve water quality and restore the Everglades.
Also in the report, the CISRERP panel recommended assessing the potential impact of sea level rise on the performance of the state and federal restoration projects that make up CERP. The peat collapse study will help provide a crucial element of that sea level rise assessment.
The peat collapse study is a collaborative effort between scientists from SFWMD and Florida International University (with funding from the Florida Sea Grant program, the National Science Foundation, Everglades National Park and the Everglades Foundation).
"As CISRERP identified, impacts of sea level rise will be a key element in the planning of restoration of the Everglades ecosystem," said SFWMD Everglades System Section Administrator, Dr. Fred Sklar. "The scientific foundation we will gain from this study will be a crucial component to planning for those impacts."