In this chapter, we briefly discuss the development of the Everglades over the past 5 million years, the modifications made to the Everglades over the past century and a half and the quantification of the changes that have occurred to the peat soils of the Everglades due to natural and anthropogenic causes during this most recent period. Using Geographic Information Systems and historical data sets, we have been able to calculate the original peat volumes, the remaining peat volumes and thus, the amount lost over the past approximately 150 years. From these volume calculations and peat physical and chemical characterizations by the USEPA over a large area of the Everglades, we have estimated the mass of peat and carbon lost, 900 million metric tons and 300 million metric tons, respectively. The amount of peat lost has implications for hydrological, ecological and landscape restoration and habitat recovery for the Everglades.
Part of the book: Peat