Presentation Title

The Influence of Spatial Scale on the Quantitative Importance of Stemflow

Format of Presentation

Poster to be presented the Friday of the conference

Presenter Information

Narain P. SpoliaFollow
Breena Rusnell

Abstract

Forests and other vegetation communities can play an important role in the volumetric importance and spatial distribution of rainfall that reaches the soil surface to partake in the terrestrial portion of the hydrologic cycle. Vegetation canopies can intercept and store rainfall, evaporating it back to the atmosphere (interception loss). That portion of rainfall not partitioned into interception loss does not reach the ground in a spatially uniform manner. Instead, the drainage of rainfall can take the form of throughfall – passing directly through canopy gaps or dripping/splashing from the canopy, or stemflow – flowing down the boles of trees and stems of other plants. Historically, much interest was placed on the amount of rainfall that was partitioned into interception loss as it may represent a sizable fraction of rainfall not available for tree growth or streamflow. Interception loss is estimated as the difference between rainfall incident on the canopy and the sum of throughfall and stemflow, with interception estimates typically made at the forest plot-scale and extrapolated to the watershed-scale. As such, the volume of stemflow is artificially distributed over these larger areas even though stemflow is confined to a relatively small region around the base of trees and stems of other plants. We apply recently advocated for stemflow metrics to previously published stemflow data from around the globe to show that, when viewed from the appropriate scale, the depth of stemflow reaching the soil in the proximal area of the base of trees and other plants is far from inconsequential.

Department

Geography and Environmental Studies

Faculty Advisor

Darryl Carlyle-Moses

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The Influence of Spatial Scale on the Quantitative Importance of Stemflow

Forests and other vegetation communities can play an important role in the volumetric importance and spatial distribution of rainfall that reaches the soil surface to partake in the terrestrial portion of the hydrologic cycle. Vegetation canopies can intercept and store rainfall, evaporating it back to the atmosphere (interception loss). That portion of rainfall not partitioned into interception loss does not reach the ground in a spatially uniform manner. Instead, the drainage of rainfall can take the form of throughfall – passing directly through canopy gaps or dripping/splashing from the canopy, or stemflow – flowing down the boles of trees and stems of other plants. Historically, much interest was placed on the amount of rainfall that was partitioned into interception loss as it may represent a sizable fraction of rainfall not available for tree growth or streamflow. Interception loss is estimated as the difference between rainfall incident on the canopy and the sum of throughfall and stemflow, with interception estimates typically made at the forest plot-scale and extrapolated to the watershed-scale. As such, the volume of stemflow is artificially distributed over these larger areas even though stemflow is confined to a relatively small region around the base of trees and stems of other plants. We apply recently advocated for stemflow metrics to previously published stemflow data from around the globe to show that, when viewed from the appropriate scale, the depth of stemflow reaching the soil in the proximal area of the base of trees and other plants is far from inconsequential.