Groundwater stable isotope profile of the Etosha National Park, Namibia

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Abstract

The Etosha National Park (ENP) is a large protected area in northern Namibia. While the ENP has received a lot of research attention in terms of terrestrial ecosystem process understanding in recent decades, aquatic and hydrological research has to date been limited to a descriptive form. This study provides a baseline hydrological data set of the spatial representation of Oand H-isotope ratios in the groundwater at a park scale, with a focus on three water point types utilised by game, namely natural artesian and contact springs as well as artificial boreholes. The data are used to infer broad-scale hydrological process from groundwater recharge mechanisms dominated by direct rainfall recharge in the west of the ENP to evaporative controls on surface water recharge pathways in the east of the ENP close to Fishers Pan. The findings are used to recommend further targeted research and monitoring to aid management of water resources in the ENP. Conservation implications: The terrestrial ecosystem, particularly large game, are tightly coupled to the distribution of available surface water in the ENP, notably contact and artesian springs. Within the ENP there is a perceived desiccation of these springs. This study provides a baseline upon which more comprehensive studies should be undertaken to differentiate natural from anthropogenic causes for this phenomenon.

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Riddell, E. S., Kilian, W., Versfeld, W., & Kosoana, M. (2016). Groundwater stable isotope profile of the Etosha National Park, Namibia. Koedoe, 58(1). https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v58i1.1329

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