PS 32-19 - Estimation of canopy water interception of a near-tropical montane cloud forest in Taiwan

Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Exhibit Hall, Oregon Convention Center
Basant Apurva1, Cho-ying Huang2 and Zhang Jun2, (1)Lakeside School, Seattle, WA, (2)Department of Geography, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan

Tropical and subtropical montane cloud forests are some of the rarest and least studied ecosystems. Due to the frequent immersion of fog water with high humidity, these zones are major water sources for lowland environments and habitats for many fauna and flora. Their dependence on cloud water leaves them highly susceptible to the effects of climate change. Studies have been conducted to quantify the characteristics of the low altitude clouds such as spatial dynamics, cloud top and base heights, occurrence frequency or immersion duration. In this study, we carried out a field measurement to estimate canopy water interception (CWI), which is directly utilized by the ecosystems. The study site was a 61 ha near-tropical hinoki cypress montane cloud forest plantation in northern Taiwan at 1705 m asl. Leaves of CHOB were clipped, air-dried and attached to trees at three different canopy depths from the top to the base of canopies along a high tower. The samples were weighed before and after the occurrence of a fog event. In addition, a cylinder shaped fog gauge was installed at the ground level next to the tower to assess amount of fog water penetrating the canopy layer.


After afternoon fog events with the duration of 60 minutes, we found that there was an apparent trend of decline of CWI from top (mean ± standard deviation = 0.023 g ± 0.0015 g), middle (0.021 g ± 0.0015 g) to the bottom (0.013 g ± 0.0015 g) of the canopies. Since the study site is a coniferous evergreen forest plantation with a relatively homogenous surface through seasons, with the background knowledge of the average leaf area index of 4.4, we estimated that this 61 ha site harvested 28.2 Mg of CWI for a daily fog event. We also found that no clear evidence of CWI was observed below the canopies by referring to bi-weekly records from the cylinder shaded fog gauge. Therefore, we can assume that the majority fog water was intercepted by the hinoki cypress canopy layer. This study demonstrates that a substantial amount of fog water can be harvested by the montane cloud forest, and this horizontal precipitation is not negligible and should be taken into account for ecological research.