Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Assefa Melesse

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dean Whitman

Third Advisor's Name

Ping Zhu

Fourth Advisor's Name

Fernando Miralles

Fifth Advisor's Name

Georgio Tachiev


groundwater, phosphorus, spatiotemporal, stochastic, prediction

Date of Defense



South Florida has transformed from a natural to a managed ecosystem upon channelization of Kissimmee River and the wetlands in the 1960’s. The drainage has resulted in fast transport of water and nutrient, and subsequently eutrophication of the downstream water bodies. The intervention required: intensive management of the shallow groundwater to balance ecological water requirement; and nutrient removal, namely phosphorus, to minimize eutrophication.

The study was set to examine and develop an operational prediction method for groundwater-phosphorus interactions to support the wetlands management. Accordingly, a point scale and a spatio-temporal groundwater level was simulated using sequence based Markovian stochastic analysis and dynamic factor analysis methods respectively. A root mean square error of 0.12m and 0.15m was observed for a point and spatio-temporal groundwater prediction.

Soluble and sequestered phosphorus were also simulated at 13% error using a watershed based model called ArcWAM. A spatial analysis on simulated soluble phosphorus and groundwater level indicated similarity of patterns (spatial correlation) 99% of the time. A geographically weighted multivariate analysis of soluble phosphorus using predictors of groundwater level, total phosphorus of surficial water, and distance from Kissimmee River showed a goodness of fit (R2 ) of 0.2 – 0.7. Amongst the factors, the groundwater explained 70% of the soluble phosphorus variability.

In summary, an increase in soluble phosphorus was observed with groundwater rise and a decrease during groundwater recession. A reversed relationship was identified for the total phosphorus. Presumably, organic matter in the root zone has contributed to increased soluble phosphorus with the rise in groundwater. On the other hand, solubility of calcium carbonate from the karst aquifers seems to fix and precipitate phosphorus during recession of groundwater. The least sequestration of phosphorus, observed in oversaturated wetlands also suggested that nutrient removal on karst hydrogeology could be risky unless a check is made using vegetation strip to enhance phosphorus uptake.

The study concluded that phosphorus could be operationally predicted associated with forecasting of groundwater fluctuation. Further research is recommended to explore factors that could be derived either empirically or from satellite data for prediction of soluble phosphorus at minimum cost.




Two of the chapters are already published while the other two are in review process with journals. I am still working on one of the chapters to be submitted.



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