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Hydrologic record extension of water-level data in the Everglades Depth Estimation Network (EDEN), 1991-99

January 27, 2015

The real-time Everglades Depth Estimation Network (EDEN) has been established to support a variety of scientific and water management purposes. The expansiveness of the Everglades, limited number of gaging stations, and extreme sensitivity of the ecosystem to small changes in water depth have created a need for accurate water-level and water-depth maps. The EDEN water-surface elevation model uses data from approximately 240 gages in the Everglades to create daily continuous interpolations of the water-surface elevation and water depth for the freshwater portion of the Everglades from 2000 to the present (2014). These maps provide hydrologic data previously unavailable for assessing biological and ecological studies.

Ecologists working in the Everglades expressed a need to the EDEN project team for daily EDEN water-level surfaces from 1990 to 1999. The additional 10 years of surfaces will provide ecologists and resource managers with two decades (1991–2011) of surfaces to analyze hydrologic dynamics. Before 2000, many of the EDEN gages used to generate water surfaces were not in operation. These datasets were extended to provide estimations of hydrologic time-series histories. The general approach to the record extension (hindcasts) was to (1) create a database of available data from 1990 to the present; (2) use dynamic cluster analysis to group stations with similar hydrologic behaviors for subareas of the Everglades with a large number of stations; (3) use results from the cluster analysis to select candidate explanatory variables; (4) develop linear regression or artificial neural network models to extend water-level records; and (5) evaluate record extensions by using model performance statistics and comparison of water-surface maps for similar hydrologic conditions for the hindcasted period (1991–99) and measured period (2000–11).

To hindcast and fill data records, 214 empirical models were developed—189 are linear regression models and 25 are artificial neural network models. The coefficient of determination (R2) for 163 of the models is greater than 0.80 and the median percent model error (root mean square error divided by the range of the measured data) is 5 percent. To evaluate the performance of the hindcast models as a group, contour maps of modeled water-level surfaces at 2-centimeter (cm) intervals were generated using the hindcasted data. The 2-cm contour maps were examined for selected days to verify that water surfaces from the EDEN model are consistent with the input data. The biweekly 2-cm contour maps did show a higher number of issues during days in 1990 as compared to days after 1990. May 1990 had the lowest water levels in the Everglades of the 21-year dataset used for the hindcasting study. To hindcast these record low conditions in 1990, many of the hindcast models would require large extrapolations beyond the range of the predictive quality of the models. For these reasons, it was decided to limit the hindcasted data to the period January 1, 1991, to December 31, 1999. Overall, the hindcasted and gap-filled data are assumed to provide reasonable estimates of station-specific water-level data for an extended historical period to inform research and natural resource management in the Everglades.

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