Throughfall Drop Size Distribution in relation to Leaf Canopy State

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Sean Hudson, University of Delaware, Geography, Newark, DE, United States, Kazuki Nanko, FFPRI, Ibaraki, Japan and Delphis F Levia Jr, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, United States
The partitioning of incident precipitation by a forest canopy into throughfall and stemflow varies as a function of meteorological conditions, tree species, leaf morphology and surface roughness. Little work quantified the throughfall drop size signature of precipitation events relative to changes in leaf canopy state of deciduous forests. This is the first study to compare throughfall drop size distributions in the presence and absence of foliage. To quantify individual throughfall drops, a laser disdrometer gauge was deployed below an observed drip point under a Liriodendron tulipifera L. (yellow poplar) tree, in northeastern Maryland, USA. More than 750,000 individual throughfall droplets have been counted and measured from precipitation events generating more than 5 mm gross rainfall over a period of 12 months. Throughfall during leafless events had significantly larger maximum drop diameters (6.74mm leafless, 5.55mm leafed) and median volume diameter of drops (5.44mm leafless, 3.31mm leafed) than throughfall generated when leaves were present. Statistical techniques have demonstrated the substantial influence of canopy state over the drop size spectra. Principal component analysis and factor analysis both resulted in canopy state loading positively with increases in maximum drop diameter while loading negatively with air temperature. Boosted regression trees analysis corroborated these findings. Our findings correspond with the physical conditions of a leafless canopy, and illustrated the greater extent of surface adhesion of intercepted water films on woody surfaces as opposed to foliar surfaces, thereby underscoring the importance of canopy state on throughfall inputs.