Stochastic modeling of soil salinity

S. Suweis, A. Rinaldo, S.E.A.T.M. van der Zee, E. Daly, A. Maritan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


A minimalist stochastic model of primary soil salinity is proposed, in which the rate of soil salinization is determined by the balance between dry and wet salt deposition and the intermittent leaching events caused by rainfall events. The long term probability density functions of salt mass and concentration are found by reducing the coupled soil moisture and salt mass balance equation to a single stochastic differential equation driven by multiplicative Poisson noise. The novel analytical solutions provide insight on the interplay of the main soil, plant and climate parameters responsible for long-term soil salinization. In particular, they show the existence of two distinct regimes, one where the mean salt mass remains nearly constant (or decreases) with increasing rainfall frequency, and another where mean salt content increases markedly with increasing rainfall frequency. As a result, relatively small reductions of rainfall in drier climates may entail dramatic shifts in long-term soil salinization trends, with significant consequences e.g. for climate change impacts on rain-fed agriculture
Original languageEnglish
Article numberL07404
Number of pages5
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • water-balance
  • irrigation
  • climate

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