Climate change and soil salinity: The case of coastal Bangladesh


This paper estimates location-specific soil salinity in coastal Bangladesh for 2050. The analysis was conducted in two stages: First, changes in soil salinity for the period 2001–2009 were assessed using information recorded at 41 soil monitoring stations by the Soil Research Development Institute. Using these data, a spatial econometric model was estimated linking soil salinity with the salinity of nearby rivers, land elevation, temperature, and rainfall. Second, future soil salinity for 69 coastal sub-districts was projected from climate-induced changes in river salinity and projections of rainfall and temperature based on time trends for 20 Bangladesh Meteorological Department weather stations in the coastal region. The findings indicate that climate change poses a major soil salinization risk in coastal Bangladesh. Across 41 monitoring stations, the annual median projected change in soil salinity is 39 % by 2050. Above the median, 25 % of all stations have projected changes of 51 % or higher.

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  1. 1.

    Available online at

  2. 2.

    The data on soil salinity have not previously been available for empirical research.

  3. 3.

    CGIAR-SRTM data with 3 s resolution, aggregated to 30 seconds by DIVA-GIS. Available online at

  4. 4.

    BMD temperature and rainfall data have been provided by the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council. Temperature data are available online at; rainfall data at

  5. 5.

    Monthly mean rainfall and maximum temperature in 1990 and 2001 for all 20 stations, as well as projections for 2050 are available from the authors upon request.

  6. 6.

    Full results are available from the authors on request.

  7. 7.

    The analysis excludes one geographically isolated station from Fig. 2 to make the clustered icons easier to view. This station, Patenga, is further south on the coast of Chittagong. It is Yellow in 2001 and 2009, and changes to Orange in 2050.

  8. 8.

    Our findings coincide with the salinity threshold established by technical experimentation (Suryanarayanan 2010).


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We would like to extend our special thanks to Dr. Md. Sher Ali for his help with the data and for his expert opinion. We are thankful to Mr. Brian Blankespoor for his help with the graphics. We are also grateful to Dr. Forhad Shilpi, Dr. Johannes Zutt, and Dr. Michael Toman for their comments and suggestions. The findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed in this paper are entirely those of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the views of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/World Bank and its affiliated organizations, or those of the Executive Directors of the World Bank or the governments they represent.

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Correspondence to Susmita Dasgupta.

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Dasgupta, S., Hossain, M.M., Huq, M. et al. Climate change and soil salinity: The case of coastal Bangladesh. Ambio 44, 815–826 (2015).

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  • Climate change
  • Coastal areas
  • Soil salinity
  • Bangladesh