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Advances in Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment in Marine and Coastal Regions
Article

National Stable Isotope Baseline for Precipitation in Malawi to Underpin Integrated Water Resources Management

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow G1 1XJ, UK
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GroundH2O Plus Ltd., Quinton, Birmingham B32 1DY, UK
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Ministry Forestry and Natural Resources, Water Resources Department, Private Bag 390, Lilongwe 3 30048, Malawi
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Frédéric Huneau
Water 2021, 13(14), 1927; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13141927
Received: 8 June 2021 / Revised: 9 July 2021 / Accepted: 9 July 2021 / Published: 13 July 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Hydrology)
With the resurgence of water-isotope tracing applications for Integrated Water Resource Management in developing countries, establishing a stable isotopic baseline is necessary. Developing countries, including Malawi, continue to struggle with the generation of consistent and long-term isotopic datasets due to non-existent or inadequate in-country water-isotope capacity. Malawi has made significant advances in its quest to establish a stable isotopic baseline through the establishment of the Malawi Network of Isotope in Precipitation. This study provides the first results for the isotopic characterization of precipitation in Malawi with a view to reinforcing understanding of the country’s hydrological cycle. Error-in-variables regression defined a Local Meteoric Water Line as δ2H = 8.0 (±0.3) δ18O + 13.0 (±2.0) using stable isotopic records of 37 monthly samples from 5 stations between 2014 and 2019. Local precipitation (isotopic composition) is consistent with global precipitation expectations, its condensation-forming process occurring under equilibrium conditions and a higher intercept (d-excess) above the 10‰ for Global Meteoric Water Line, implying that air moisture recycling significantly influences local precipitation. Wider variations observed in local precipitation isotopic signatures are largely attributed to different moisture-bearing systems and diverse geographic factors across the country. Additional stations are recommended to improve spatial coverage that, together with longer temporal records, may help understanding and resolving uncertainties such as the altitude effect. This pioneering study is expected to facilitate Malawi’s ambition to achieve integrated use and improved protection of its surface water and groundwater resources in response to mounting climate change, growing population and land-development concerns. View Full-Text
Keywords: precipitation; Stable Isotope Baseline; Local Meteoric Water Line; Integrated Water Resources Management; deuterium excess; Malawi precipitation; Stable Isotope Baseline; Local Meteoric Water Line; Integrated Water Resources Management; deuterium excess; Malawi
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MDPI and ACS Style

Banda, L.C.; Rivett, M.O.; Zavison, A.S.K.; Kamtukule, S.; Kalin, R.M. National Stable Isotope Baseline for Precipitation in Malawi to Underpin Integrated Water Resources Management. Water 2021, 13, 1927. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13141927

AMA Style

Banda LC, Rivett MO, Zavison ASK, Kamtukule S, Kalin RM. National Stable Isotope Baseline for Precipitation in Malawi to Underpin Integrated Water Resources Management. Water. 2021; 13(14):1927. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13141927

Chicago/Turabian Style

Banda, Limbikani C., Michael O. Rivett, Anold S.K. Zavison, Sydney Kamtukule, and Robert M. Kalin 2021. "National Stable Isotope Baseline for Precipitation in Malawi to Underpin Integrated Water Resources Management" Water 13, no. 14: 1927. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13141927

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