Nav: Home

Lake water recharged by atmospheric precipitation in the Badain Jaran Desert

May 04, 2017

The Badain Jaran Desert is located in the arid region of northwest China, and is a unique landscape characterised by more than 140 lakes as well as extensive megadunes (Figure 1), including the highest dune in the world. In 2009, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization approved the Badan Jaran Desert Scenic Area, the Tengger Desert Scenic Area and Juyanhai Scenic Area as the "Alxa Desert World Geopark".

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the unique natural landscape of Badain Jaran Desert has received considerable research attention, especially whether the about 90mm of atmospheric precipitation in the region can serve as a source of water for many lakes have been the focus of controversy.

A recent research work revealed that atmospheric precipitation in the Badain Jaran Desert recharges the lake water. This research work, entitled "The discovery of surface runoff in the megadunes of Badain Jaran Desert, China, and its significance", coauthored with Jingbo Zhao, Yandong Ma, Xiaoqing Luo, Dapeng Yue, Tianjie Shao and Zhibao Dong, scholars at Shaanxi Normal University, was published in the Science China Earth Sciences, No. 4, 2017.

The researchers obtained a number of important new discoveries through field surveys in the Badain Jaran Desert, such as physical and chemical deposits produced by surface runoff on the slopes of megadunes, rarely-seen infiltration-excess surface runoff in the megadune depressions and spring streams at the base of megadunes, and used electron microscopy, energy spectrum analysis, infiltration experiments, moisture content determinations and grain-size analysis to study the mineral and chemical composition of the runoff precipitates, and grain-size of the deposits associated with the runoff, together with the hydrological balance in the megadune area, and the atmospheric precipitation mechanism responsible for groundwater recharge and for supplying water to lakes.

Several lines of evidence, such as the physical and chemical deposits resulting from shallow subsurface runoff, spring streams, infiltration-excess runoff, and gravity capillary water with a moisture content of 3%-6%, demonstrate that the hydrological cycle in this region is characterized by atmospheric precipitation-soil water-groundwater-surface water conversion model (Figure 2), that is, atmospheric precipitation reaches the base of the megadunes through infiltration and subsequently becomes groundwater and lake water.

The result of this study is of great scientific significance in explaining the source of lake water in the Badain Jaran Desert, is of great practical significance to the scientific utilization of groundwater resources in this region, and is of great reference value in research on the hydrological cycle, including groundwater recharge conditions and recharge mechanisms, in desert region.
-end-
This research was funded by the Major Projects of International Cooperation of National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 41210002 and 40672108) and the Cheung Kong Scholars Programme of the Ministry of Education of China (No. 801813)

See the article: J. Zhao, Y. Ma, X. Luo, D. Yue, T. Shao, Z. Dong, "The discovery of surface runoff in the megadunes of Badain Jaran Desert, China, and its significance," Sci. China Earth Sci., (2017) 60(4): 707-719. doi:10.1007/s11430-016-9019-2

This article was published online , in the Science China Earth Sciences, by Science China Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Science China Press

Related Groundwater Articles:

West Virginia groundwater not affected by fracking, but surface water is
Three years of fracking has not contaminated groundwater in northwestern West Virginia, but accidental spills of wastewater from fracked wells may pose a threat to surface water, according to a study led by scientists at Duke University.
11 percent of disappearing groundwater used to grow internationally traded food
11 percent of the global non-renewable groundwater drawn up for irrigation goes to produce crops that are then traded on the international market.
As sea level rises, much of Honolulu and Waikiki vulnerable to groundwater inundation
New research from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa reveals a large part of the heavily urbanized area of Honolulu and Waikiki, Hawai'i is at risk of groundwater inundation--flooding that occurs as groundwater is lifted above the ground surface due to sea level rise.
Calculating recharge of groundwater more precisely
An international team of researchers has demonstrated that key processes in models used for the global assessment of water resources for climate change are currently missing.
Calculating recharge of groundwater more precisely
Researchers demonstrate that current models underestimate role of subsurface heterogeneity.
Deep groundwater aquifers respond rapidly to climate variability
Changes in climate can rapidly impact even the deepest freshwater aquifers according to Penn State and Columbia University hydrologists.
Anthropogenic groundwater extraction impacts climate
Anthropogenic groundwater exploitation changes soil moisture and land-atmosphere water and energy fluxes, and essentially affects the ecohydrological processes and the climate system.
Groundwater helium level could signal potential risk of earthquake
Japanese researchers have revealed a relationship between helium levels in groundwater and the amount of stress exerted on inner rock layers of the earth, found at locations near the epicenter of the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake.
Study links groundwater changes to fracking
A new study has found heightened concentrations of some common substances in drinking water near sites where hydraulic fracturing has taken place.
Colorado River Delta flows help birds, plants, groundwater
Two growing seasons after the engineered spring flood of the Colorado River Delta in 2014, the delta's birds, plants and groundwater continue to benefit, according to the latest monitoring report prepared for the International Boundary and Water Commission by a binational University of Arizona-led team.

Related Groundwater Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#532 A Class Conversation
This week we take a look at the sociology of class. What factors create and impact class? How do we try and study it? How does class play out differently in different countries like the US and the UK? How does it impact the political system? We talk with Daniel Laurison, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Swarthmore College and coauthor of the book "The Class Ceiling: Why it Pays to be Privileged", about class and its impacts on people and our systems.