Simulating future salinity dynamics in a coastal marshland under different climate scenarios
Salinization is a well‐known problem in agricultural areas worldwide. In the last 20–30 yr, rising salinity in the upper, unconfined aquifer has been observed in the Freepsumer Meer, a grassland near the German North Sea coast. For investigating long‐term development of salinity and water balance during 1961–2099, the one‐dimensional Soil–Water–Atmosphere–Plant (SWAP) model was set up and calibrated for a soil column in the area. The model setup involves a deep aquifer as the source of salt through upward seepage. In the vertical salt transport equation, dispersion and advection are included. Six different regional outputs of statistical downscaling methods were used as climate scenarios. These comprise different rates of increasing surface temperature and different trends in seasonal rainfall. The simulation results exhibit opposing salinity trends for topsoil and deeper layers. Although projections of some scenarios entail decreasing salinities near the surface, most of them project a rise in subsoil salinity, with the strongest trends of up to +0.9 mg cm−3 100 yr−1 at −65 cm. The results suggest that topsoil salinity trends in the study area are affected by the magnitude of winter rainfall trends, whereas high subsoil salinities correspond to low winter rainfall and high summer temperature. How these projected trends affect the vegetation and thereby future land use will depend on the future management of groundwater levels in the area.