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Coastal Salinity Index along the southeastern Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico, 1983 to 2018

October 1, 2019

Coastal droughts have a different dynamic than upland droughts, which are typically characterized by agricultural, hydrologic, meteorological, and (or) socioeconomic effects. Drought uniquely affects coastal ecosystems because of changes in the salinity conditions of estuarine creeks and rivers. The location of the freshwater-saltwater interface in surface-water bodies is an important factor in the ecological and socioeconomic dynamics of coastal communities. To address the data and information gap for characterizing coastal drought, the Coastal Salinity Index (CSI) was developed by using salinity data. The CSI uses a computational approach similar to the Standardized Precipitation Index. The CSI can be computed for unique time intervals (for example 1-, 6-, 12-, and 24-month intervals) to characterize short- and long-term drought (saline) conditions, as well as wet (high freshwater inflow) conditions.

To encourage the use of the CSI in current and future research endeavors, this investigation addressed three activities to enhance the use and application of the CSI. First, a software package was developed for the consistent computation of the CSI that includes preprocessing of salinity data, filling missing data, computing the CSI, post-processing, and generating the supporting metadata. This software package is available for download from the U.S. Geological Survey GitLab repository. Second, the CSI has been computed at sites along the southeastern Atlantic coast (Florida to North Carolina) and the Gulf of Mexico (Texas to Florida) to increase the opportunity for linking the CSI to ecological response data. Third, using telemetered salinity data, the real-time computation of the CSI has been prototyped and disseminated on the web.

Publication Year 2019
Title Coastal Salinity Index along the southeastern Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico, 1983 to 2018
DOI 10.3133/ofr20191090
Authors Matthew D. Petkewich, Kirsten Lackstrom, Bryan J. McCloskey, Lauren F. Rouen, Paul A. Conrads
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2019-1090
Index ID ofr20191090
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization South Atlantic Water Science Center