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Pacific Southwest Research Station

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Research Station

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Title: Winter rainfall interception by two mature open-grown trees in Davis, California

Authors: Xiao, Qingfu; McPherson, E. Gregory; Ustin, Susan L.; Grismer, Mark E.; Simpson, James R.

Date: 2000

Source Hydrological Processes. 14(4): 763-784.


A rainfall interception measuring system was developed and tested for open‐grown trees. The system includes direct measurements of gross precipitation, throughfall and stemflow, as well as continuous collection of micrometeorological data. The data were sampled every second and collected at 30‐s time steps using pressure transducers monitoring water depth in collection containers coupled to Campbell CR10 dataloggers. The system was tested on a 9‐year‐old broadleaf deciduous tree (pear, Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’) and an 8‐year‐old broadleaf evergreen tree (cork oak, Quercus suber) representing trees having divergent canopy distributions of foliage and stems. Partitioning of gross precipitation into throughfall, stemflow and canopy interception is presented for these two mature open‐grown trees during the 1996–1998 rainy seasons. Interception losses accounted for about 15% of gross precipitation for the pear tree and 27% for the oak tree. The fraction of gross precipitation reaching the ground included 8% by stemflow and 77% by throughfall for the pear tree, as compared with 15% and 58%, respectively, for the oak tree. The analysis of temporal patterns in interception indicates that it was greatest at the beginning of each rainfall event. Rainfall frequency is more significant than rainfall rate and duration in determining interception losses. Both stemflow and throughfall varied with rainfall intensity and wind speed. Increasing precipitation rates and wind speed increased stemflow but reduced throughfall. Analysis of rainfall interception processes at different time‐scales indicates that canopy interception varied from 100% at the beginning of the rain event to about 3% at the maximum rain intensity for the oak tree. These values reflected the canopy surface water storage changes during the rain event. The winter domain precipitation at our study site in the Central Valley of California limited our opportunities to collect interception data during non‐winter seasons. This precipitation pattern makes the results more specific to the Mediterranean climate region.

Keywords: precipitation, throughfall, stemflow, evaporation, interception, canopy interception dynamic processes, field instrumentation, measurement system, pressure gauge, urban forests, open grown trees

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    Xiao, Qingfu; McPherson, E. Gregory; Ustin, Susan L.; Grismer, Mark E.; Simpson, James R. 2000. Winter rainfall interception by two mature open-grown trees in Davis, California. Hydrological Processes. 14(4): 763-784.
Last Modified: December 18, 2020