Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Data from: Predicting combined effects of land use and climate change on river and stream salinity


Olson, John (2019), Data from: Predicting combined effects of land use and climate change on river and stream salinity, Dryad, Dataset,


Agricultural, industrial, and urban development have all contributed to increased salinity in streams and rivers, but the likely effects of future development and climate change are unknown. I developed two empirical models to estimate how these combined effects might affect salinity by the end of this century. The first model predicts natural background from static (e.g., geology and soils) and dynamic (i.e., climate and vegetation) environmental factors and explained 78% of the variation in EC. I then compared the estimated background EC to current measurements at 2001 sites chosen probabilistically from all conterminous US streams. EC was more than 50% greater at 34% of these sites. The second model predicts deviation of EC from natural background as function of human land use and environmental factors and explained 60% of the variation in deviation from natural background. I then predicted the effects of climate and land use change on EC at end of the century by replacing dynamic variables with published projections of future conditions based on the A2 emissions scenario. By end of century, the median EC increase 0.319 mS cm-1 to 0.524 mS cm-1 with over 50% of streams having > 50% increases in EC and 35% more than doubling their EC. Most of the change is due to development, with climate change accounting for less than 10% of the increase. In extreme cases, increased salinity may make water unsuitable for human use, but widespread moderate increases are likely a greater threat to stream ecosystems due to the elimination of low EC habitats.

Usage Notes


Contiguous United States