Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Analysis of changes in water-level dynamics at selected sites in the Florida Everglades

February 6, 2013

The historical modification and regulation of the hydrologic patterns in the Florida Everglades have resulted in changes in the ecosystem of South Florida and the Florida Everglades. Since the 1970s, substantial focus has been given to the restoration of the Everglades ecosystem. The U.S. Geological Survey through its Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystem Science and National Water-Quality Assessment Programs has been providing scientific information to resource managers to assist in the Everglades restoration efforts. The current investigation included development of a simple method to identify and quantify changes in historical hydrologic behavior within the Everglades that could be used by researchers to identify responses of ecological communities to those changes. Such information then could be used by resource managers to develop appropriate water-management practices within the Everglades to promote restoration. The identification of changes in historical hydrologic behavior within the Everglades was accomplished by analyzing historical time-series water-level data from selected gages in the Everglades using (1) break-point analysis of cumulative Z-scores to identify hydrologic changes and (2) cumulative water-level frequency distribution curves to evaluate the magnitude of those changes. This analytical technique was applied to six long-term water-level gages in the Florida Everglades. The break-point analysis for the concurrent period of record (1978–2011) identified 10 common periods of changes in hydrologic behavior at the selected gages. The water-level responses at each gage for the 10 periods displayed similarity in fluctuation patterns, highlighting the interconnectedness of the Florida Everglades hydrologic system. While the patterns were similar, the analysis also showed that larger fluctuations in water levels between periods occurred in Water Conservation Areas 2 and 3 in contrast to those in Water Conservation Area 1 and the Everglades National Park. Results from the analysis indicate that the cumulative Z-score curve, in conjunction with cumulative water-level frequency distribution curves, can be a useful tool in identifying and quantifying changes in historical hydrologic behavior within the Everglades. In addition to the analysis, a spreadsheet application was developed to assist in applying these techniques to time-series water-level data at gages within the Everglades and is included with this report.

Related Content