FISCHS (Past and Future Impacts of Sea Level Rise on Coastal Habitats and Species)The objective of this project is to integrate biological and hydrological models to develop management tools to deal with the projected ecological consequences of rising sea level in coastal south Florida. To develop a realistic suite of predictive tools, we are (1) Mapping the position of the mangrove-marsh ecotone at selected locations for six time periods, determining rates of change and relating those rates to rates of sea-level rise; (2) Developing new mechanistic models of coastal vegetation change and determine thresholds and tipping points for change; (3) Incorporating episodic disturbance from hurricanes to identify its impact on hydrology and vegetation; (4) Enhancing a coupled surface-water/ground-water hydrologic model to reliably hind-cast multi-decadal observed sea level rise, hurricane effects, and vegetation change; (5) Developing future-casting capability under projected climate change, SLR, and restoration scenarios. The insight on hydrologic, ecological, and topographic changes obtained from the Hindcast experimentation is used to extrapolate changes in the future-cast simulations; and (6) Using the hydrologic models to simulate variables for spatially-explicit population and habitat suitability index models for application to management problems.
Why is this research important?
These models have application beyond the Everglades. Extensive, low-lying coastal wetlands and estuaries are found throughout the USA and the world. Our methodology and results are directly applicable to future-casting effects of sea level rise, storm surge events, and climate change on potential changes in coastal vegetation. This has direct relevance for southern Florida, but is applicable to many tropical and subtropical coastlines. It is also applicable to future-casting and hind-casting the effects of local alterations in coastal hydrology by natural or human induced actions and to effects of tsunamis on low lying islands and coastal areas. Techniques can be used to identify water-management schemes that best maintain coastal ecosystems under projected sea level rise and climate change.
Principal Investigators: Catherine A. Langtimm, Donald L. DeAngelis, M. Dennis Krohn, Thomas J. Smith III, Bradley M. Stith, Eric D. Swain
Project Team: Ann M. Foster, Jiang Jiang, Melinda Lohmann, Paul R. Nelson, Ginger Tiling-Range, Zuzanna Zajac