August 29, 2017

Sunshine, Scientists, and the Everglades Southern Coastal Systems

On August 2nd, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the IAN team hosted the first of three Everglades regional workshops in order to develop the Everglades Report Card and 2019 System Status Report. This workshop laid the groundwork for grading the Southern Coastal Systems region of the Everglades, which encompasses Florida Bay, Biscayne Bay, and most of the south Florida coastline. This region in particular is highly impacted by changes in the hydrology of the system. Between variable freshwater flows from Lake Okeechobee and sea level rise encroaching from the coast, the habitats in the Southern Coastal Systems are changing fast.

 

Four regions of the Florida Everglades

 

Biscayne Bay. Image credit Emily Nastase

The workshop was a two-day affair held in the Hurricane House at the University of Florida Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center. The aptly-named Hurricane House is designed to withstand 4 – 5 category hurricanes with little or no damage, a true architectural feat. At 3,000 square feet, this “house” (it doesn’t have a particularly homey design) was built as an example to the rest of south Florida of hurricane-resistant architecture, important in a region that receives a high frequency of hurricanes.

University of Florida Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center. Image credit here

Because the Southern Coastal Systems region covers a large geographic space with several unique habitats, monitoring and maintaining it requires many scientists and managers. Over 30 individuals from the Southern Coastal Systems region participated in the workshop. We had long and detailed conversations that laid the necessary foundations for the creation of the Everglades Report Card and 2019 SSR. We also made sure to include ample time for brainstorming activities such as SNAP! and Conceptionary.

Participants playing “conceptionary.” Also, Alexandra Fries holding coffee. Image credit Emily Nastase

More “Conceptionary.” Image credit Alexandra Fries

Post-workshop, we swung by the beach to kill time before we flew back home. It may have been 95 degrees out, but it was a great way to wrap up our first regional workshop!

Ft. Lauderdale beach on a Friday evening. Image credit Alexandra Fries

IAN held two more workshops at the end of August for the remaining three regions: one for Greater Everglades, and one with Northern Estuaries and Lake Okeechobee regions combined. With these workshops wrapped up, we can move into the next phase of this project – working with the regional coordinators and scientists to gather and assess data. The final report card and SSR are expected to be completed by January 2019. Then we can finally tell the world with confidence how the Florida Everglades is doing.

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About the author
Emily Nastase is an Assistant Science Communicator with the Integration and Application Network. Her primary focus within IAN is to create accurate and aesthetic visuals for effective science communication.
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Filed under: Environmental Report Cards — Emily Nastase @ 11:00 am

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