If a tree falls in the swamp

“If a tree falls in a swamp and no one is around to hear it, does it make a splash?”
That is a hydro-philosophical riddle that wetland hydrologists have grappled with . . . for at least the past couple hours.

The photos are hot off the press: I snapped them earlier today in a dry — but deep — cypress dome in Big Cypress National Preserve, just out of earshot of Alligator Alley (I75).
After careful review of the photos, I’ve come to a definitive conclusion.
Yes, they did make a splash:
A big one.
And everyone one of them.
Let me explain my methods in greater detail.
A rookie hydrologist, called upon the scene to answer the same quesiton, and being untrained in the water-cycle intricacies of the southern peninsula — would have taken a quick tour of the dry dome and falsely concluded “definitely not a splash, and given the sponginess of the peat, probably no sound at all.”
That rings true from a philosphical standpoint, but hydrologically does not hold water.

Careful review of the historical hydrological data set from nearby East Crossing Strand monitoring station reveals that surface water is present at or above the swamp forest stage for around 10 months per year.
Moreover, the time of the year when trees are most likely to fall, during the summer and fall hurricane season, surface water is always present in the dome.
Moral of story:
Perception (a dry dome) does not equal reality (it’s mostly wet).
Or the corollary: never be fooled into building your house on a dry floodplain. (Actually, I’m not sure if that rule applies in Florida).
And yes, last time I checked, water splashes when its struck by a falling tree.
Another hydro-philosophical quandary laid to rest.
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x