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Impact of Sea Level Rise on Groundwater Salinity in a Coastal Community of South Florida

Authors


  • Paper No. JAWRA-11-0015-P of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA). Discussions are open until six months from print publication.

(E-Mail/Guha: hguha@bechtel.com).

Abstract

Guha, Hillol and Sorab Panday, 2012. Impact of Sea Level Rise on Groundwater Salinity in a Coastal Community of South Florida. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 48(3): 510-529. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2011.00630.x

Abstract:  Freshwater resources of coastal communities in the United States and world over are threatened by the rate of sea level rise. According to recent estimates by various governmental agencies and climate researchers, the global sea level rise is likely to be between 0.6 and 2.1 m by the year 2100. South Florida is a coastal community and much of its coastline is subject to sea level rise and potential impacts to wetlands and the water resources of the area. To understand what the impact of sea level rise would cause to the groundwater level and salinity intrusion, an integrated groundwater and surface water model was developed for North Miami-Dade and Broward Counties of South Florida. The model was calibrated against daily groundwater heads, base flows in canals, and chloride concentrations for a period of one year and six months. Three separate sensitivity analyses were conducted by increasing the sea level by 0.6, 0.9, and 1.22 m. Results of the simulations shows increase of groundwater heads in some areas from 4 to 15%; whereas the average relative chloride concentrations increased significantly by 100-600% in some wells. The increase in groundwater elevations and chloride concentrations varies from location of the wells and its proximity to the coast. The model results indicate that even a 0.6 m increase in sea level (which is the conservative estimate) is likely to impair the vital freshwater resources in many parts of South Florida.

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