Implication of Intrastorm Rainfall-Canopy Interaction on Interception Performance of Broadleaf Evergreen Shrubs in Urban Setting

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 2:40 PM
Walter Yerk and Franco A Montalto, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, United States
Because of its ability to intercept a portion of rainfall, vegetated canopy has a significant influence on the urban hydrological cycle. In turn, urban watersheds, characterized by large impervious areas, have an enormous and often adverse impact on receiving waters. However, most historical interception research has been dedicated to forest canopies. The goal of our research was to quantify rainfall partitioning by isolated evergreen canopies in an urban setting.

Two years of the field experiment involved three exemplars of Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus'Otto Luyken'.) Each plant had ten rain gauges to measure throughfall with a five second sampling frequency. A number of preventive techniques were introduced to minimize the gauges' errors (e.g., splash-in, splash-out and excessive wetting.) Leaf area index was measured manually. We estimated the canopy storage capacity to be less than 0.5 mm. An on-site automated weather station provided meteorological data.

Cumulative interception loss for the periods of August-December 2013 and April-July 2014 was 51%. Phenological change did not show a stable pattern of influence on throughfall depths. Measurements in May and July 2014 showed a high variability of stemflow (2-16%) between rain events.

Throughfall and precipitation intensities (mm/hr) expressed strong linear relationships (adjusted coefficient of determination R20.79) for the entire range of observed rainfall intensities. The ratio of throughfall to precipitation intensity was 0.49:1. The observations suggest that reduction of throughfall intensity by the canopy during a rainstorm determines the bulk of interception depth. In contrast, the amount of water stored on the canopy and evaporated between and after rain events contributes minimally to interception.

Simulations of potential evaporation based on the Penman-Monteith method revealed a serious underestimation of evaporation from the wet canopy surfaces during the rain events. Mechanisms other than heat balance models of potential evaporation from a still water surface are being discussed in order to explain large intrastorm evaporation from within an isolated canopy.