Fresh Water Lens Persistence and Root Zone Salinization Hazard Under Temperate Climate

Sija F. Stofberg*, G.H.P. Oude Essink, Pieter S. Pauw, Perry G.B. de Louw, Anton Leijnse, Sjoerd E.A.T.M. van der Zee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In low lying deltaic areas in temperate climates, groundwater can be brackish to saline at shallow depth, even with a yearly rainfall excess. For primary production in horticulture, agriculture, and terrestrial nature areas, the fresh water availability may be restricted to so-called fresh water lenses: relatively thin pockets of fresh groundwater floating on top of saline groundwater. The persistence of such fresh water lenses, as well as the quantity and quality of surface water is expected to be under pressure due to climate change, as summer droughts may intensify in North-West Europe. Better understanding through modelling of these fresh water resources may help anticipate the impact of salinity on primary production. We use a simple model to determine in which circumstances fresh water lenses may disappear during summer droughts, as that could give rise to enhanced root zone salinity. With a more involved combination of expert judgement and numerical simulations, it is possible to give an appraisal of the hazard that fresh water lenses disappear for the Dutch coastal regions. For such situations, we derive an analytical tool for anticipating the resulting salinization of the root zone, which agrees well with numerical simulations. The provided tools give a basis to quantify which lenses are in hazard of disappearing periodically, as well as an impression in which coastal areas this hazard is largest. Accordingly, these results and the followed procedure may assist water management decisions and prioritization strategies leading to a secure/robust fresh water supply on a national to regional scale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)689-702
JournalWater Resources Management
Volume31
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Fresh water lens
  • Root zone salinization
  • Salinity
  • Simple model
  • salinization
  • fresh water
  • models
  • water supply
  • coastal areas

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