Stable isotope signatures of meteoric water in the Cuvelai-Etosha Basin, Namibia: Seasonal characteristics, trends and relations to southern African patterns

Isotopes Environ Health Stud. 2018 Dec;54(6):588-607. doi: 10.1080/10256016.2018.1505724. Epub 2018 Aug 6.


The study area is the Namibian part of the Cuvelai-Etosha Basin (CEB), located in central northern Namibia. The CEB is home to 40 % of Namibia's population, and most of the people live in rural areas. These people depend on both surface and groundwater resources which are limited in this dryland (mean annual rainfall ranging from 250 to 550 mm/a). The isotopic signatures of δ18O and δ2H from water samples (n = 61) collected over a course of 9 years from various research projects and existing (but mainly unpublished) data of meteoric water of the CEB (10 sites) were evaluated and local meteoric water lines (LMWLs) developed. Further, the data is discussed in the context of seasonal characteristics and trends and compared to available data from the Global Network of Isotopes in Precipitation (GNIP) for the southern African region. Our results extend the portfolio of previously published LMWLs for southern Africa and provide a more precise baseline for any isotope-based study in that region. The slope of the LMWL from the GNIP stations correlates with latitude. This correlation cannot be found within the CEB. The dominant control on the isotopic signature of the CEB of precipitation is seasonal.

Keywords: Hydrogen-2; Namibia; isotope hydrology; local meteoric water line; oxygen-18; precipitation.

MeSH terms

  • Deuterium / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Fresh Water / analysis*
  • Fresh Water / chemistry
  • Namibia
  • Oxygen Isotopes / analysis*
  • Rain
  • Seasons


  • Oxygen Isotopes
  • Oxygen-18
  • Deuterium