- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- Freshwater Science
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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null (Ed.)Abstract Freshwater salinization is an emerging global problem impacting safe drinking water, ecosystem health and biodiversity, infrastructure corrosion, and food production. Freshwater salinization originates from diverse anthropogenic and geologic sources including road salts, human-accelerated weathering, sewage, urban construction, fertilizer, mine drainage, resource extraction, water softeners, saltwater intrusion, and evaporative concentration of ions due to hydrologic alterations and climate change. The complex interrelationships between salt ions and chemical, biological, and geologic parameters and consequences on the natural, social, and built environment are called Freshwater Salinization Syndrome (FSS). Here, we provide a comprehensive overview of salinization issues (past, present, and future), and we investigate drivers and solutions. We analyze the expanding global magnitude and scope of FSS including its discovery in humid regions, connections to human-accelerated weathering and mobilization of ‘chemical cocktails.’ We also present data illustrating: (1) increasing trends in salt ion concentrations in some of the world’s major freshwaters, including critical drinking water supplies; (2) decreasing trends in nutrient concentrations in rivers due to regulations but increasing trends in salinization, which have been due to lack of adequate management and regulations; (3) regional trends in atmospheric deposition of salt ions and storage of salt ions in soils and groundwater, andmore »
Sensors track mobilization of ‘chemical cocktails’ in streams impacted by road salts in the Chesapeake Bay watershed
Increasing trends in base cations, pH, and salinity of freshwaters have been documented in US streams over 50 years. These patterns, collectively known as freshwater salinization syndrome (FSS), are driven by multiple processes, including applications of road salt and human-accelerated weathering of impervious surfaces, reductions in acid rain, and other anthropogenic legacies of change. FSS mobilizes chemical cocktails of distinct elemental mixtures via ion exchange, and other biogeochemical processes. We analyzed impacts of FSS on streamwater chemistry across five urban watersheds in the Baltimore-Washington, USA metropolitan region. Through combined grab-sampling and high-frequency monitoring by USGS sensors, regression relationships were developed among specific conductance and major ion and trace metal concentrations. These linear relationships were statistically significant in most of the urban streams (e.g.
R2= 0.62 and 0.43 for Mn and Cu, respectively), and showed that specific conductance could be used as a proxy to predict concentrations of major ions and trace metals. Major ions and trace metals analyzed via linear regression and principal component analysis showed co-mobilization (i.e. correlations among combinations of specific conductance (SC), Mn, Cu, Sr2+, and all base cations during certain times of year and hydrologic conditions). Co-mobilization of metals and base cations was strongest during peakmore »
The compounding effects of anthropogenic legacies for environmental pollution are significant, but not well understood. Here, we show that centennial‐scale legacies of milldams and decadal‐scale legacies of road salt salinization interact in unexpected ways to produce hot spots of nitrogen (N) in riparian zones. Riparian groundwater and stream water concentrations upstream of two mid‐Atlantic (Pennsylvania and Delaware) milldams, 2.4 and 4 m tall, were sampled over a 2 year period. Clay and silt‐rich legacy sediments with low hydraulic conductivity, stagnant and poorly mixed hydrologic conditions, and persistent hypoxia in riparian sediments upstream of milldams produced a unique biogeochemical gradient with nitrate removal via denitrification at the upland riparian edge and ammonium‐N accumulation in near‐stream sediments and groundwaters. Riparian groundwater ammonium‐N concentrations upstream of the milldams ranged from 0.006 to 30.6 mgN L−1while soil‐bound values were 0.11–456 mg kg−1. We attribute the elevated ammonium concentrations to ammonification with suppression of nitrification and/or dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium (DNRA). Sodium inputs to riparian groundwater (25–1,504 mg L−1) from road salts may further enhance DNRA and ammonium production and displace sorbed soil ammonium‐N into groundwaters. This study suggests that legacies of milldams and road salts may undercut the N buffering capacity of riparian zones and need tomore »
Factors driving freshwater salinization syndrome (FSS) influence the severity of impacts and chances for recovery. We hypothesize that spread of FSS across ecosystems is a function of interactions among five state factors:
human activities, geology, flowpaths, climate, and time. (1) Human activitiesdrive pulsed or chronic inputs of salt ions and mobilization of chemical contaminants. (2) Geologydrives rates of erosion, weathering, ion exchange, and acidification‐alkalinization. (3) Flowpathsdrive salinization and contaminant mobilization along hydrologic cycles. (4) Climatedrives rising water temperatures, salt stress, and evaporative concentration of ions and saltwater intrusion. (5) Timeinfluences consequences, thresholds, and potentials for ecosystem recovery. We hypothesize that state factors advance FSS in distinct stages, which eventually contribute to failures in systems‐level functions (supporting drinking water, crops, biodiversity, infrastructure, etc.). We present future research directions for protecting freshwaters at risk based on five state factors and stages from diagnosis to prognosis to cure.
Longitudinal stream synoptic monitoring tracks chemicals along watershed continuums: a typology of trendsThere are challenges in monitoring and managing water quality due to spatial and temporal heterogeneity in contaminant sources, transport, and transformations. We demonstrate the importance of longitudinal stream synoptic (LSS) monitoring, which can track combinations of water quality parameters along flowpaths across space and time. Specifically, we analyze longitudinal patterns of chemical mixtures of carbon, nutrients, greenhouse gasses, salts, and metals concentrations along 10 flowpaths draining 1,765 km 2 of the Chesapeake Bay region. These 10 longitudinal stream flowpaths are drained by watersheds experiencing either urban degradation, forest and wetland conservation, or stream and floodplain restoration. Along the 10 longitudinal stream flowpaths, we monitored over 300 total sampling sites along a combined stream length of 337 km. Synoptic monitoring along longitudinal flowpaths revealed: (1) increasing, decreasing, piecewise, or no trends and transitions in water quality with increasing distance downstream, which provide insights into water quality processes along flowpaths; (2) longitudinal trends and transitions in water quality along flowpaths can be quantified and compared using simple linear and non-linear statistical relationships with distance downstream and/or land use/land cover attributes, (3) attenuation and transformation of chemical cocktails along flowpaths depend on: spatial scales, pollution sources, and transitions in land use and management, hydrology, andmore »