Environmental Management

, Volume 55, Issue 4, pp 776–798 | Cite as

Projecting Changes in Everglades Soil Biogeochemistry for Carbon and Other Key Elements, to Possible 2060 Climate and Hydrologic Scenarios

  • William OremEmail author
  • Susan Newman
  • Todd Z. Osborne
  • K. Ramesh Reddy


Based on previously published studies of elemental cycling in Everglades soils, we projected how soil biogeochemistry, specifically carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, and mercury might respond to climate change scenarios projected for 2060 by the South Florida Water Management Model. Water budgets and stage hydrographs from this model with future scenarios of a 10 % increased or decreased rainfall, a 1.5 °C rise in temperature and associated increase in evapotranspiration (ET) and a 0.5 m rise in sea level were used to predict resulting effects on soil biogeochemistry. Precipitation is a much stronger driver of soil biogeochemical processes than temperature, because of links among water cover, redox conditions, and organic carbon accumulation in soils. Under the 10 % reduced rainfall scenario, large portions of the Everglades will experience dry down, organic soil oxidation, and shifts in soil redox that may dramatically alter biogeochemical processes. Lowering organic soil surface elevation may make portions of the Everglades more vulnerable to sea level rise. The 10 % increased rainfall scenario, while potentially increasing phosphorus, sulfur, and mercury loading to the ecosystem, would maintain organic soil integrity and redox conditions conducive to normal wetland biogeochemical element cycling. Effects of increased ET will be similar to those of decreased precipitation. Temperature increases would have the effect of increasing microbial processes driving biogeochemical element cycling, but the effect would be much less than that of precipitation. The combined effects of decreased rainfall and increased ET suggest catastrophic losses in carbon- and organic-associated elements throughout the peat-based Everglades.


Climate Change Everglades Biogeochemistry Soil  Carbon Nutrients 



This work was supported by the U.S. Geological Survey, Priority Ecosystem Studies Program (G. Ronnie Best and Nicholas Aumen, Program Managers), the South Florida Water Management District, and the University of Florida. This work resulted from a presentation at a meeting held at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida in February 2013, entitled “Predicting Ecological Changes in the Florida Everglades in a Future Climate Scenario”; and available at: Special thanks to Jenifer Barnes and staff of the South Florida Water Management District Hydrologic Modelling Group for providing all the model run scenarios. Trade names used in this report are for the purpose of full disclosure of analytical methods; no endorsement of any commercial product by the U.S. Geological Survey is implied.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York (outside the USA) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Orem
    • 1
    Email author
  • Susan Newman
    • 2
  • Todd Z. Osborne
    • 3
    • 4
  • K. Ramesh Reddy
    • 4
  1. 1.U.S. Geological SurveyRestonUSA
  2. 2.South Florida Water Management DistrictWest Palm BeachUSA
  3. 3.Whitney Laboratory for Marine BioscienceUniversity of FloridaSt. AugustineUSA
  4. 4.Wetland Biogeochemistry Laboratory, Soil and Water Science DepartmentUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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