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Fog Spatial Distributions over the Central Namib Desert - An Isotope Approach

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Accepted Manuscripts
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2017.01.0062
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Kudzai Farai Kaseke1, Chao Tian1, Lixin Wang 1, Mary Seely2,3, Roland Vogt4, Theo Wassenaar3, Roland Mushi3

  • 1 Department of Earth Sciences, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA
  • 2 Desert Research Foundation of Namibia, 7 Rossini Street, Windhoek, Namibia
  • 3 Gobabeb Research and Training Centre, Walvis Bay, Namibia
  • 4 Research Group Meteorology, Climatology, and Remote Sensing, University of Basel, 4001 Basel, Switzerland


Novel isotope framework is used to classify fog types within the Namib Desert.
New isotope framework is used to identify the fog source waters in the same region.
A single fog event over large geographic areas may be composed of several fog types.
For a single fog event, fog type (advective/radiation/ mixed) is location dependent.


Fog is a characteristic feature of the Namib Desert and is essential to life in this fog dependent system. It is often acknowledged that advective fog is the dominant fog type over the Namib Desert fog-zone but recent evidence suggests that other fog types occur in this area. Knowledge of the existence and spatial distribution of different fog types will enhance the mechanistic understanding of fog formation and potential changes in this region, but such knowledge is limited in literature. In this study, we investigated fog spatial variations within the Namib Desert fog-zone by applying stable isotope (δ18O and δ2H) techniques to differentiate various fog types and identify their source waters. Isotope based results showed that at least three types of fog (advective, radiation and mixed) occurred in this region and what appears as a single fog event may include all three types. Results suggest that radiation fog was the dominant fog type during our study period. The results also suggest that advective fog (with Atlantic Ocean origins) either dissipated 30–50 km inland and the residual humidity combined with locally derived moisture to form mixed fog or advective fog incorporated local moisture along its trajectory inland resulting in mixed fog. Fog in the Namib Desert was consistently depleted in 18O and 2H compared to rainfall and this was attributed to sub-cloud evaporation of the rainfall as well as different sources of fog and rainfall. Sub-cloud evaporation led to enrichment of 18O and 2H in rainfall beyond that of the first stage condensate, fog. Advective fog is often considered the architect of the fog-zone in the Namib Desert, but our results demonstrated multiple dominant fog types during the study period, suggesting knowledge of both fog frequency and fog type is needed to better predict climate change impacts on the fog-zone.


Advective Climate change Ecohydrology, Isotopes Mixed Radiation δ18O δ2H

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