Composite Modeling for Evaluation of Groundwater and Soil Salinization on the Multiple Reclaimed Land Due to Sea-Level Rise


In this study, the applicability of the composite model for assessing seawater intrusion and soil salinization in coastal aquifers due to climate change was investigated. In this approach, flow in the saturated zone of a coastal aquifer is simulated using a three-dimensional saturated–unsaturated transport model and flow in the unsaturated zone between the surface and groundwater level is simulated using a one-dimensional model in the vertical direction. Long-term sea-level predictions obtained using the representative concentration pathway (RCP) 4.5 and 8.5 scenarios were applied for computing the sea-level rise for 91 country-managed reclaimed areas in the Republic of Korea. Composite results were obtained and analyzed for seawater intrusion and soil salinization due to sea-level rise. In the results of groundwater and soil salinity in all 91 reclaimed land, the increasing rate of groundwater and soil salinity in the RCP 4.5 scenario was 13.5% and 10.4%, respectively. In the RCP 8.5 scenario, the increasing rate of groundwater and soil salinity was 14.1% and 11.1%, respectively. The groundwater level increased to 0.41 m in the RCP 4.5 scenario and 0.51 m in the RCP 8.5 scenario. The results for two representative reclaimed land areas in the Heungwang and Deokchon districts were examined in detail. The composite analysis revealed that widespread damage could be caused by sea-level rise in the reclaimed land and that seawater intrusion in many regions will accelerate groundwater salinization over time. Moreover, the reclaimed land areas were characterized in terms of watershed size, presence of ponds, water levels of the ponds, and pond locations. In reclaimed land located in small watersheds, the groundwater recharge area was smaller than in land located in larger watershed areas. Consequently, the seawater in small watersheds penetrated further inland. Ponds with water levels higher than the sea level effectively prevented seawater intrusion into groundwater. If the water level of a pond is similar to or lower than the sea level, it indicates that seawater has already penetrated a large part of the aquifer. The composite model developed in this study seems to be one of the simulation methods that can be applied when simulating saturated and unsaturated zone to a large number of sites. Also, the study results could be used to establish and implement a long-term comprehensive plan for water resources at the national level, considering seawater intrusion due to climate change and providing a basis for establishing countermeasures against future seawater intrusion.

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This research was supported by the APEC Climate Center and the Korea Environment Industry & Technology Institute (KEITI) through the Advanced Water Management Research (AWMP) Program, funded by the Korean Ministry of Environment (MOE) (83076).

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Jung, E., Park, N. & Park, J. Composite Modeling for Evaluation of Groundwater and Soil Salinization on the Multiple Reclaimed Land Due to Sea-Level Rise. Transp Porous Med 136, 271–293 (2021).

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  • Sea-level rise
  • Coastal aquifer
  • Seawater intrusion
  • Soil salinization
  • Composite model