Interception (water)

Interception (water)

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Interception refers to precipitation
Precipitation (meteorology)
In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation (also known as one of the classes of hydrometeors, which are atmospheric water phenomena is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity. The main forms of precipitation...

 that does not reach the soil, but is instead intercepted by the leaves and branches of plants and the forest floor. It occurs in the canopy
Canopy (forest)
In biology, the canopy is the aboveground portion of a plant community or crop, formed by plant crowns.For forests, canopy also refers to the upper layer or habitat zone, formed by mature tree crowns and including other biological organisms .Sometimes the term canopy is used to refer to the extent...

 (i.e. canopy interception
Canopy interception
Canopy interception is the rainfall that is intercepted by the canopy of a tree and successively evaporate from the leaves. Precipitation that is not intercepted will fall as throughfall or stemflow on the forest floor....

), and in the forest floor
Forest floor
The forest floor, also called detritus, duff and the O horizon, is one of the most distinctive features of a forest ecosystem. It mainly consists of shed vegetative parts, such as leaves, branches, bark, and stems, existing in various stages of decomposition above the soil surface...

 or litter layer (i.e. forest floor interception ). Because of evaporation
Evaporation is a type of vaporization of a liquid that occurs only on the surface of a liquid. The other type of vaporization is boiling, which, instead, occurs on the entire mass of the liquid....

, interception of liquid water generally leads to loss of that precipitation for the drainage basin
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

, except for cases such as fog interception.

Intercepted snow
Snow is a form of precipitation within the Earth's atmosphere in the form of crystalline water ice, consisting of a multitude of snowflakes that fall from clouds. Since snow is composed of small ice particles, it is a granular material. It has an open and therefore soft structure, unless packed by...

fall does not result in any notable amount of evaporation, and most of the snow falls off the tree by wind or melt. However, intercepted snow can more easily drift with the wind, out of the watershed. Conifer
The conifers, division Pinophyta, also known as division Coniferophyta or Coniferae, are one of 13 or 14 division level taxa within the Kingdom Plantae. Pinophytes are gymnosperms. They are cone-bearing seed plants with vascular tissue; all extant conifers are woody plants, the great majority being...

s have a greater interception capacity than hardwood
Flowering plant
The flowering plants , also known as Angiospermae or Magnoliophyta, are the most diverse group of land plants. Angiosperms are seed-producing plants like the gymnosperms and can be distinguished from the gymnosperms by a series of synapomorphies...

s. Their needles gives them more surface area
Area is a quantity that expresses the extent of a two-dimensional surface or shape in the plane. Area can be understood as the amount of material with a given thickness that would be necessary to fashion a model of the shape, or the amount of paint necessary to cover the surface with a single coat...

 for droplet
Drop (liquid)
A drop or droplet is a small column of liquid, bounded completely or almost completely by free surfaces. A drop may form when liquid accumulates at the lower end of a tube or other surface boundary, producing a hanging drop called a pendant drop...

s to adhere to, and they have foliage
A leaf is an organ of a vascular plant, as defined in botanical terms, and in particular in plant morphology. Foliage is a mass noun that refers to leaves as a feature of plants....

 in spring
Spring (season)
Spring is one of the four temperate seasons, the transition period between winter and summer. Spring and "springtime" refer to the season, and broadly to ideas of rebirth, renewal and regrowth. The specific definition of the exact timing of "spring" varies according to local climate, cultures and...

 and fall
Autumn is one of the four temperate seasons. Autumn marks the transition from summer into winter usually in September or March when the arrival of night becomes noticeably earlier....

, therefore interception also depends on the type of vegetation in a wooded area.

See also

  • Stemflow
    In hydrology, stemflow is the flow of intercepted water down the trunk or stem of a plant. Stemflow, along with throughfall, are responsible for the transferral of precipitation and nutrients from the canopy to the soil. In tropical rainforests, where this kind of flow can be substantial, erosion...

  • Throughfall
    In Hydrology, throughfall is the process which describes how wet leaves shed excess water onto the ground surface. These drops have an erosive power because they are larger than rain drops, however, if they travel a shorter distance their erosive power is reduced...

  • Canopy interception
    Canopy interception
    Canopy interception is the rainfall that is intercepted by the canopy of a tree and successively evaporate from the leaves. Precipitation that is not intercepted will fall as throughfall or stemflow on the forest floor....

  • Forest floor interception
    Forest floor interception
    Forest floor interception is the part of the precipitation or throughfall that is temporarily stored in the top layer of the forest floor and successively evaporated within a few hours or days during and after the rainfall event. The forest floor can consist of bare soil, short vegetation or...

  • Water cycle
    Water cycle
    The water cycle, also known as the hydrologic cycle or H2O cycle, describes the continuous movement of water on, above and below the surface of the Earth. Water can change states among liquid, vapor, and solid at various places in the water cycle...

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