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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 17 Jan 2019

Research article | 17 Jan 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It has been under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS). The manuscript was not accepted for further review after discussion.

Simulating future salinity dynamics in a coastal marshland under different climate scenarios

Julius Eberhard1, N. Loes M. B. van Schaik2, Anett Schibalski3, and Thomas Gräff4 Julius Eberhard et al.
  • 1Universität Potsdam, Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät, Institut für Physik und Astronomie
  • 2Technische Universität Berlin, Fakultät VI Planen Bauen Umwelt, Institut für Ökologie
  • 3TU Braunschweig, Fakultät Architektur, Bauingenieurwesen und Umweltwissenschaften, Institut für Geoökologie
  • 4Umweltbundesamt, IV 2.1

Abstract. Salinization is a well-known problem in agricultural areas worldwide. For the last 20–30 years, rising salinity in the upper, unconfined aquifer has been observed in the Freepsumer Meer, a deep grassland area near the German North Sea coast. In order to investigate long-term development of soil salinity and water balance, the one-dimensional SWAP model was set up and calibrated for a soil column in the area, simulating water and salt balance at discrete depths for 1961–2099. The model setup involved a deep aquifer as the only source of salt through upward seepage since other sources were negligible. In the vertical salt transport equation, only dispersion and advection were included. Six different regional outputs of statistical downscaling methods (WETTREG, XDS), based on simulations of different GCMs (ECHAM5, ECHAM6, IPSL-CM5) driven by greenhouse gas emission scenarios (SRES-A2, SRES-B1) and concentration pathways (RCP45, RCP85), were used as scenarios. These comprised different rates of increasing surface temperature and essentially different trends in seasonal rainfall. The results of the model runs exhibit opposing salinity trends for topsoil and deeper layers: While the projections of some scenarios entail decreasing salinities near the soil surface, most of them project a rise in subsoil salinity with strongest trends of up to +0.9 mg cm−3 (100 a)−1 at −65 cm. The results suggest that topsoil salinity trends are affected by the magnitude of winter rainfall trends while high subsoil salinity trends correspond to low winter rainfall and high summer temperature. Absolute salinity is high in scenarios of high-temperature and low-rainfall summers. How these projected trends affect the vegetation and thereby future land use will depend on the future management of groundwater levels in the area.

Julius Eberhard et al.
Julius Eberhard et al.
Julius Eberhard et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Rising salinity has been observed in the soil water of a deep grassland near the German coast. Our study aims at assessing the future magnitude and effect of slow salinization from deep groundwater, likely to be the reason for the observed trend. A model was run, involving different climate scenarios until 2099. The results suggest that salinity will rise in the lower soil but might decrease near the surface. The plant species composition might change, depending mainly on the land management.
Rising salinity has been observed in the soil water of a deep grassland near the German coast....