Tampa Bay Troubles
The El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle, or the cyclical movement of heat in the tropical Pacific Ocean, influences annual rainfall amounts on Florida’s Gulf Coast. In Tampa Bay, seven out of ten strong El Nino years are years when wintertime rainfall is above average. In the Lakeland/Fort Myers area, winters with above average rainfall occur during nine out of ten strong El Ni?o years. This above average rainfall brings more runoff into Tampa Bay, which brings more nutrients from the surface into the waters. More nutrients create problems for the bay’s seagrass. Sections of the bay that are covered in seagrass support fifty percent more species than non-grassy sections of the bay. After the heavy rains that fell over the 1998 El Nino winter, seagrass extent in the bay declined by eight percent.
(Source: Morrison, Gerold et al. “”Variations in Water Clarity and Chlorophyll a in Tampa Bay, Florida, in Response to Annual Rainfall, 1985-2004.”" Estuaries and Coasts 29 (2006): 926-931 and Tampa Bay Estuary Program. “”Seagrass Sows Seeds of Life in Bay.”" Accessed Online 18 September 2008 and United States. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. El Ni?o/La Ni?a: Local Effect on Rainfall. Accessed Online 18 September 2008 .)