How might Australian rainforest cloud interception respond to climate change?

Wallace, Jim, and McJannet, Dave (2013) How might Australian rainforest cloud interception respond to climate change? Journal of Hydrology, 481. pp. 85-95.

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The lower and upper montane rainforests in northern Queensland receive significant amounts of cloud interception that affect both in situ canopy wetness and downstream runoff. Cloud interception contributes 5–30% of the annual water input to the canopy and this increases to 40–70% of the monthly water input during the dry season. This occult water is therefore an important input to the canopy, sustaining the epiphytes, mosses and other species that depend on wet canopy conditions. The potential effect of climate change on cloud interception was examined using the relationship between cloud interception and cloud frequency derived from measurements made at four different rainforest locations. Any given change in cloud frequency produces a greater change in cloud interception and this 'amplification' increases from 1.1 to 1.7 as cloud frequency increases from 5% to 70%. This means that any changes in cloud frequency will have the greatest relative effects at the higher altitude sites where cloud interception is greatest. As cloud frequency is also a major factor affecting canopy wetness, any given change in cloud frequency will therefore have a greater impact on canopy wetness at the higher altitude sites. These changes in wetness duration will augment those due to changes in rainfall and may have important implications for the fauna and flora that depend on wet canopy conditions. We also found that the Australian rainforests may be more efficient (by ~50% on average) in intercepting cloud water than American coniferous forests, which may be due to differences in canopy structure and exposure at the different sites.

Item ID: 32169
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0022-1694
Keywords: rainforest, climate change, cloud interception, canopy wetness
Funders: Cooperative Research Centre for Tropical Rainforest Ecology and Management
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2014 01:58
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0401 Atmospheric Sciences > 040104 Climate Change Processes @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960305 Ecosystem Adaptation to Climate Change @ 100%
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