River Salinity Variations in response to Discharge:
Examples from western United States during the early 1900s

David H. Peterson, Michael Dettinger, Daniel Cayan,
Jeanne DiLeo, Caroline Isaacs, Larry Riddle, and Richard Smith

Major controls on river salinity (total dissolved solids) in the western Unites States are climate, geology, and human activity. Climate, in general, influences soil-river salinity via salt-balance variations. When climate becomes wetter, river discharge increases and soil-river salinity decreases; when climate becomes drier, river discharge decreases and soil-river salinity increases. This study characterizes the river salinity response to discharge using statistical-dynamical methods. An exploratory analysis of river salinity, using early 1900s water quality surveys in the western United States, shows much river salinity variability is in response to storm and annual discharge. Presumably this is because river discharge is largely supported by surface flow.


Article in
David H. Peterson, Michael Dettinger, Daniel Cayan, Jeanne DiLeo, Caroline Isaacs, Larry Riddle, and Richard Smith, 1996, River Salinity Variations in response to Discharge: Examples from western United States during the early 1900s, in C.M. Isaacs and V.M. Tharp (eds.), Proc. 12th Annual Pacific Climate (PACLIM) Workshop: Interagency Ecological Program Technical Report 46, California Department of Water Resources, 145-153.