Use of Water Balance and Tracer-Based Approaches to Monitor Groundwater Recharge in the Hyper-Arid Gobi Desert of Northwestern China

Akiyama T, Kubota J, Fujita K, Tsujimura M, Nakawo M, Avtar R, & Kharrazi A ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5881-2568 (2018). Use of Water Balance and Tracer-Based Approaches to Monitor Groundwater Recharge in the Hyper-Arid Gobi Desert of Northwestern China. Environments 5 (5): p. 55. DOI:10.3390/environments5050055.

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Abstract

The groundwater recharge mechanism in the hyper-arid Gobi Desert of Northwestern China was analyzed using water balance and tracer-based approaches. Investigations of evaporation, soil water content, and their relationships with individual rainfall events were conducted from April to August of 2004. Water sampling of rainwater, groundwater, and surface water was also conducted. During this period, 10 precipitation events with a total amount of 41.5 mm, including a maximum of 28.9 mm, were observed. Evaporation during the period was estimated to be 33.1 mm. Only the soil water, which was derived from the heaviest precipitation, remained in the vadose zone. This is because a dry surface layer, which was formed several days after the heaviest precipitation event, prevented evaporation. Prior to that, the heaviest precipitation rapidly infiltrated without being affected by evaporation. This is corroborated by the isotopic evidence that both the heaviest precipitation and the groundwater retained no trace of significant kinetic evaporation. Estimated δ-values of the remaining soil water based on isotopic fractionation and its mass balance theories also demonstrated no trace of kinetic fractionation in the infiltration process. Moreover, stable isotopic compositions of the heaviest precipitation and the groundwater were very similar. Therefore, we concluded that the high-intensity precipitation, which rapidly infiltrated without any trace of evaporation, was the main source of the groundwater.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: groundwater recharge; evaporation; water balance; stable isotopes; hyper-arid environment; Gobi Desert; Northwestern China
Research Programs: Advanced Systems Analysis (ASA)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2018 07:25
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2019 08:59
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/15595

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