New framework on salinization processes creates common understanding

06 June 2019 - Published by Dorte Storper
As the SalFar projects progresses, a framework on salinization processes has been developed. Today, the framework on salinization processes is one of the first scientific reports of the SalFar project. We interviewed Jeroen De Waegemaeker, researcher at ILVO and author of the framework.

Why is the challenge of salinization so complex?

“The main reason for why the challenge of salinization is so complex, is due to the territorial diversity of the North Sea Region”, Jeroen explains.” Although we might think that all coastal areas are alike, they differ to a great extent. In fact, many characteristics of a coastal area are area-specific. For example, the geological, hydrological and meteorological conditions vary throughout the North Sea Region. Not even the salt content of the sea is generic! There is much more salt in coastal waters of Belgium and Holland than there is in the Øresund, the sea that separates Denmark from Sweden. What is more, there is a great diversity in human parameters such as the local water management and local agricultural land uses. As a result of these conditions and parameters, there is a high diversity in salinization across the North Sea Region” Jeroen continues.

Why did the SalFar project define a framework on salinization processes?

"The framework on salinization processes aims to create a common language and a shared understanding of the salinization challenge. The SalFar project involves a great number of partners, each of these have their own disciplinary and regional background. The framework facilitates quick and easy comparison of salinization in the various coastal regions. Contrary to most academic literature on salinization, the SalFar framework is specific to salinization in coastal areas. This means that the framework only includes salinization processes that occur in the North Sea Region.” According to Jeroen, the biggest challenge was to balance complexity and readability. “On the one hand we wanted to split up the issue of salinization in various categories, on the other hand the framework couldn’t be too complex” he explains.


Four categories of salinization processes

In the framework four categories of salinization processes have been defined. The first category, seepage salinization, is the result of the rise of salt rich groundwater, a process known as seepage. This rise can be caused by climate change, water management in the low-lying land or maritime works such as dredging. The second category, flood salinization, occurs as soils are flooded by brackish or salt-rich water. These floods occur periodically or exceptionally. The third category, aerosol salinization, results from the accumulation of salt in the soil as droplets of seawater are deposited on the land. Finally, there is irrigation salinization: the irrigation of non-saline agricultural soils with salt or brackish water. This man-made salinization can be deliberate and reasoned, e.g. the testing of salt tolerance of crops, or just the opposite.


Read the “SalFar Framework on Salinization processes” report here to learn more about the different salinization processes. 



undefinedCaption: the SalFar framework on salinization processes in the North Sea Region