The long-term application of road salts has led to a rise in surface water chloride (Cl-) concentrations. While models have been used to assess the potential future impacts of continued deicing practices, prior approaches have not incorporated changes in climate that are projected to impact hydrogeology in the 21st century. We use an INtegrated CAtchment (INCA) model to simulate Cl- concentrations in the Tioughnioga River watershed. The model was run over a baseline period (1961-1990) and climate simulations from a range of GCMs run over three 30-year intervals (2010-2039; 2040-2069; 2070-2099). Model projections suggest that Cl- concentrations in the two river branches will continue to rise for several decades, before beginning to decline around 2040-2069, with all GCM scenarios indicating reductions in snowfall and associated salt applications over the 21st century. The delay in stream response is most likely attributed to climate change and continued contribution of Cl- from aquifers. By 2100, surface water Cl- concentrations will decrease to below 1960s values. Catchments dominated by urban lands will experience a decrease in average surface water Cl-, although moderate compared to more rural catchments.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry