Scientists examine link between surface-water salinity, climate change

phys.org | 2/23/2018 | Staff
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The interplay between surface-water salinity and climate change in Central New York is the subject of a recent paper by researchers in Syracuse University's College of Arts and Sciences.

Kristina Gutchess, a Ph.D. candidate in Earth Sciences, is the lead author of an article in the prestigious journal Environmental Science and Technology (ACS Publications). Her co-authors at Syracuse include Laura Lautz, the Jesse Page Heroy Professor and chair of Earth sciences, and Christa Kelleher, assistant professor of Earth sciences.

Co-author - Gutchess - PhD - Supervisor - Associate

Another co-author is Gutchess' Ph.D. supervisor, Associate Professor Zunli Lu.

Rounding out the group are Li Jin G'08, associate professor of geology at SUNY Cortland; José L. J. Ledesma, a postdoctoral researcher of aquatic sciences and assessment at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences; and Jill Crossman, assistant professor of Earth and environmental sciences at the University of Windsor (Ontario).

Paper - Group - Study - Impact - Salt

The paper draws on the group's study of the impact of de-icing salt from Interstate 81 and other surrounding roads and highways on the Tioughnioga River watershed. Gutchess says their findings make her "cautiously optimistic" about the watershed's future surface-water chloride concentrations.

"The long-term application of road salts has led to a rise in the river's salinity level," says Gutchess, who studies processes affecting the quality of surface water and groundwater. "While various models have been used to assess potential future impacts of continued de-icing practices, they have not incorporated different climate scenarios, which are projected to impact hydrogeology in the 21st century."

Gutchess - Team - Approaches - Fieldwork - Laboratory

Gutchess' team combined various computational approaches with rigorous fieldwork and laboratory analysis to simulate surface-water chloride concentrations in the Tioughnioga—a large, deep, 34-mile tributary of the Chenango River, flowing through Cortland and Broome counties.

Central to their experiment was INCA (short for "INtegrated CAtchment"), a semi-distributed catchment-modeling platform that assesses environmental-change issues. Gutchess calibrated the model for a historical, or baseline, period (1961-90), and used...
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