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Throughfall isotopic composition in relation to drop size at the intra-event scale in a Mediterranean Scots pine stand

AuthorsPinos, Juan; Latron, Jérôme ; Nanko, Kazuki; Levia, Delphis F.; Llorens, Pilar
KeywordsIsotopic composition
Canopy interception
Drop size distributions
Splash droplet evaporation
Issue DateMay-2020
PublisherEuropean Geosciences Union
CitationHydrology and Earth System Sciences (2020)
AbstractThe major fraction of water reaching the forest floor is throughfall, which consists of free throughfall, splash throughfall and canopy drip. Research has shown that forest canopies modify the isotopic composition of throughfall by means of evaporation, isotopic exchange, canopy selection and mixing of rainfall waters. However, the effects of these factors in relation to throughfall isotopic composition and the throughfall drop size reaching the soil surface are unclear. Based on research in a mountainous Scots pine stand in northeastern Spain, this study sought to fill this knowledge gap by examining the isotopic composition of throughfall in relation to throughfall drop size. In the experimental stand, throughfall consisted on average of 65 % canopy drip, 19 % free throughfall and 16 % splash throughfall. The dynamics of the isotopic composition of throughfall and rainfall showed complex behavior throughout events. The isotopic shift showed no direct relationship with meteorological variables, number of drops, drop velocities, throughfall and rainfall amount, or raindrop kinetic energy. However, the experiment did reveal that the isotopic shift was higher at the beginning of an event, decreasing as cumulative rainfall increased, and that it also increased when the median volume drop size of throughfall (D50_TF) approached or was lower than the median volume drop size of rainfall (D50_RF). This finding indicates that the major contribution of splash throughfall at the initial phase of rain events matched the highest vapor pressure deficit (VPD), and at the same time corresponded with higher isotopic enrichment, which implies that splash droplet evaporation occurred. Future applications of our approach will improve understanding of how throughfall isotopic composition may vary with drop type and size during rainfall events across a range of forest types.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-182
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