Multivariate Analysis of Soil Salinity in a Semi-Humid Irrigated District of China: Concern about a Recent Water Project
The Chaobai River (CBR) basin in northern China is experiencing an unprecedented continuous inflow of external water via the South–North Water Diversion Project, which has channeled water from the southern part of the country to the north. Consequently, the steady rise of groundwater table in recent years is threatening soil salinity regulation. The purpose of this study was to describe the status of salinity of the surface soil in the CBR basin and to evaluate the impact of environmental
... environmental factors including groundwater table on the spatial distribution of soil salinity using multivariate analysis (MVA) technique. In this study, 10 chemical variables of soil samples collected in 204 sites along CBR were analyzed, considering their interaction with three environmental factors: the density of irrigation canals, groundwater depth and topography. Statistical analysis mainly consisted of principal component analysis (PCA), redundancy analysis (RDA) and clustering analysis (CA). The results allow defining the surface soil in the CBR basin as a slightly saline and moderately alkaline media. The first two axes of multivariate model approximately explains 51% of the observed variability and allows distinguishing two main domains: the saline and the alkaline. The variability of the saline domain, defined by major cations and anions, is obviously controlled by macro environmental factors, of which the density of irrigation canals and groundwater depth contributes 71% and 28%, respectively, while that of the alkaline domain, related to pH and bicarbonate, mainly manifests as singular behaviors of soil groups like rice cultivation or sewage irrigation. The results suggests that more attention should be paid to the ongoing water table rise to help inform future land management decisions and to prevent a double threat of both groundwater and surface water on soil salinization. Meanwhile, this study shows the enormous potential of MVA technique, specifically the complementary duo of RDA and CA, for integrating both global and local information of soil salinity and environmental factors.