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Irma Serves Another Blow To Fragile Everglades

Florida Everglades. Photo: Chauncey Davis on Flickr.

Researchers fear Hurricane Irma’s impact in the Everglades is exacerbated by sea level rise and long efforts to drain the watershed.

Irma crossed the western Everglades as a Category 3 or Category 4 hurricane.

Evelyn Gaiser of Florida International University says historically the watershed would have been resilient, but that sea level rise and a shortage of fresh water have left it vulnerable.

“We find that there are changes in the resilience in the ecosystem that determine the way an event like this plays out.”

She says the hurricane brought with it a storm surge of up to eight feet and tore up vital sea grass beds in Florida Bay, but that the rain represented a healthy dose of fresh water.

The fragile Everglades are the subject of a $17 billion restoration.

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Amy Green

About Amy Green

Reporter and Producer

Amy Green covers the environment and climate change at WMFE News. She is an award-winning journalist and author whose extensive reporting on the Everglades is featured in the book MOVING WATER, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, and podcast DRAINED, available wherever you get your podcasts. Amy’s ... Read Full Bio »