Hydroclimatic Analysis of Rising Water Levels in the Great Rift Valley Lakes of Kenya

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejrh.2021.100857. This is version 2 of this Preprint.


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Mathew Herrnegger, Gabriel Stecher , Christian Schwatke , Luke Olang 


Study Region
The Great Rift Valley lakes of Kenya have recently experienced significant increases in their water levels, negatively impacting the local communities. This has provoked renewed concerns about the causations, with various geological, anthropogenic and hydro-climatic influences hypothesized as potential causes of the water level rises.
Study Focus
This study analyses and documents water level fluctuations in Lakes Baringo, Bogoria, Nakuru, Solai, Elementaita and Naivasha. Hydrometeorological analyses are undertaken to understand potential causes and lake volume data is used to derive the “Integrated Catchment Response” (ICR), a magnitude which allows to relate changes in water balance components to signals observed in the lake volume changes.
New Hydrological Insights for the Region
Compared to 1984-2009, the recent increases in lake areas range from 21% for Lake Naivasha to an extraordinary 123% for Lake Solai. Mean annual rainfall for 2010-2020 increased by up to 30%. Actual evapotranspiration also increased, but to lesser extent compared to rainfall. The results illustrate that changes in catchment properties due to anthropogenic influences or changes in underground permeability are not necessary to explain the lake level rises. Based on the ICR only surprisingly minor changes in the water balance are necessary to explain the lake level rises, since an increase of only 0.4 - 2% of mean annual effective rainfall leads to the observed phenomena.




Engineering, Physical Sciences and Mathematics


Rift Valley Lakes, Lake level rises, Kenya


Published: 2021-05-05 17:49

Last Updated: 2021-06-23 19:13

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Conflict of interest statement:

Data Availability (Reason not available):
Data can be requested from corresponding author

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