GEOLOGY: Refreshing Water

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Science  03 Sep 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5689, pp. 1371d
DOI: 10.1126/science.305.5689.1371d

The Everglades is maintained by the slow sheet-like flow of fresh water from a series of control gates in central Florida southward into Florida Bay, and is representative of many other coastal wetlands. The crux of a recent restoration effort is the reengineering of a more natural flow after decades of diversions, levees, and canals, and is complicated by the variable habitats and permeability of the Everglades. Part of the difficulty in monitoring this effort is that the flow is driven by subtle variations in water level that are difficult to capture by scattered gauges (elevation changes of less than 1 m in 10 km). Wdowinski et al. show that the large-scale variations in flow, as reflected in water elevation, as well as other details, can be captured by satellite interferometry. Their observations, gathered in 1994, show that flow was sheetlike in the eastern Everglades, but more radial in the western region, and provide an estimate of the diffusivity, an important hydrologic parameter for inferring flow dynamics. — BH

Geophys. Res. Lett. 31, 10.1029/2004GL20383 (2004).

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