Groundwater Salinity in a Floodplain Forest Impacted By Saltwater Intrusion Academic Article Conference Paper uri icon


  • Coastal wetlands occupy a delicate position at the intersection of fresh and saline waters. Changing climate and watershed hydrology can lead to saltwater intrusion into historically freshwater systems, causing plant mortality and loss of freshwater habitat. Understanding the hydrological functioning of tidally influenced floodplain forests is essential for advancing ecosystem protection and restoration goals, however finding direct relationships between hydrological inputs and floodplain hydrology is complicated by interactions between surface water, groundwater, and atmospheric fluxes in variably saturated soils with heterogeneous vegetation and topography. Thus, an alternative method for identifying common trends and causal factors is required. Dynamic factor analysis (DFA), a time series dimension reduction technique, models temporal variation in observed data as linear combinations of common trends, which represent unexplained common variability, and explanatory variables. DFA was applied to model shallow groundwater salinity in the forested floodplain wetlands of the Loxahatchee River (Florida, USA), where altered watershed hydrology has led to changing hydroperiod and salinity regimes and undesired vegetative changes. Long-term, high-resolution groundwater salinity datasets revealed dynamics over seasonal and yearly time periods as well as over tidal cycles and storm events. DFA identified shared trends among salinity time series and a full dynamic factor model simulated observed series well (overall coefficient of efficiency, Ceff=0.85; 0.52≤Ceff≤0.99). A reduced multilinear model based solely on explanatory variables identified in the DFA had fair to good results (Ceff=0.58; 0.38≤Ceff≤0.75) and may be used to assess the effects of restoration and management scenarios on shallow groundwater salinity in the Loxahatchee River floodplain.

publication date

  • 2014-11-01