The Florida Everglades are a region of tropical wetlands, home to many rare and endangered plants and a 15,000-year human history. Unfortunately, these species and artifacts are at risk of extinction and erosion due to changing water levels caused by climate change and industrialization.
Archaeologists from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville's Archaeological Research Laboratory are investigating the effect that changes in the Everglades' water levels have had on people, plants, and archaeological and ecological resources in the past and present in order to predict the future.
The research has implications for mitigating the effects of climate change by investigating future impacts of changing water levels.
UT has received more than $175,000 from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the work to be conducted by archaeologists Howard Cyr and Kandi Hollenbach. The research is part of a multidisciplinary project contracted through the private firm Brockington and Associates Inc. in order to assess the environmental impact of the Everglades Restoration Transition Plan, a multibillion-dollar project authorized by Congress and aimed at revitalizing the wetlands.
"An important part of being able to notice if our environment is changing is to know what it was like in the past," Cyr said. "Our research will allow us to gain a better picture of changes in historic and prehistoric water levels and their effects on prehistoric human populations and how they mitigated environmental changes. It also allows us to assess the effect water level changes have had on the ecology and habitability of the area."
The researchers say this knowledge will be especially important for population centers along the Atlantic seaboard, where a minor rise in sea level can have a dramatic effect on local flooding, storm intensity and habitability.
"We've all seen in recent media coverage that studying the effects of past and present
|Contact: Whitney Heins|
University of Tennessee at Knoxville