Freshwater salinisation – drivers and impacts in river basins around the world

Speaker: Josefin Thorslund, researcher in hydrology at the Department of Physical Geography

Zoom Link: https://stockholmuniversity.zoom.us/j/69256695187

Without reliable access to water resources, basic human needs are not fulfilled and sustainable development is hindered. Freshwater salinisation is a growing water quality problem, which could strongly affect water scarcity and sectoral water use. Although a recognized issue, cross-regional assessments of freshwater salinity status, changes and critical drivers have largely been lacking. In this seminar, I will share some ongoing research on this topic, addressing both inland drivers of freshwater salinisation and the impact of salinity of both surface and groundwater resources for irrigation water use and water scarcity quantifications. I will present a new open global salinity database, compiled from monitoring data of both surface water (rivers, lakes/reservoirs) and groundwater locations over the period 1980–2019 and illustrate its usage for evaluating salinity levels and trends in river basins worldwide. Combining this dataset with both model and observation driven data on hydroclimatic, geographic and human drivers, I will then show new results on drivers of freshwater salinisation, as well as some quantifications of salinity-driven water scarcity in agricultural regions.

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Josefin Thorslund is a hydrologist with a special focus on large-scale water quality assessment. She received her PhD from the Department of Physical Geography at Stockholm University in November 2017 and is currently working on her FORMAS mobility grant: Water quality impacts water scarcity – accounting for changing freshwater salinity on water scarcity in global drylands, part time here in Stockholm and part time at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.  This project aims to target the major scientific challenge of assessing main drivers of freshwater salinization and quantify present and future salinity-driven water scarcity in basins around the world. More broadly, Josefin’s research interests include topics on the landscape scale spreading and fate of pollutants in different parts of the connected hydrological system and their anthropogenic and hydroclimatic drivers. She is also working on both qualitative and quantitative assessments of the large-scale functions of wetlands and the impacts of regional-global change on their functions and associated ecosystem services.