The coastal waters of the southeastern USA contain important protected habitats and natural resources that are vulnerable to climate variability and singular weather events. Water clarity, strongly affected by atmospheric events, is linked to substantial environmental impacts throughout the region. To assess this relationship over the long-term, this study uses an artificial neural network-based time series modeling technique known as non-linear autoregressive models with exogenous input (NARX models) to explore the relationship between climate and a water clarity index (KDI) in this area and to reconstruct this index over a 66-year period. Results show that synoptic-scale circulation patterns, weather types, and precipitation all play roles in impacting water clarity to varying degrees in each region of the larger domain. In particular, turbid water is associated with transitional weather and cyclonic circulation in much of the study region. Overall, NARX model performance also varies—regionally, seasonally and interannually—with wintertime estimates of KDI along the West Florida Shelf correlating to the actual KDI at r > 0.70. Periods of extreme (high) KDI in this area coincide with notable El Niño events. An upward trend in extreme KDI events from 1948 to 2013 is also present across much of the Florida Gulf coast.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atmospheric Science