Stochastic modeling of soil salinity

S. Suweis, A. Rinaldo, S. E.A.T.M. Van Der Zee, E. Daly, A. Maritan, Amilcare Michele M. Porporato

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49 Scopus citations


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 (US)
Article numberL07404
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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