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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-566
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-566
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 14 Nov 2019

Submitted as: research article | 14 Nov 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Contribution of understory evaporation in a tropical wet forest

Cesar Dionisio Jimenez-Rodriguez1,2, Miriam Coenders-Gerrits1, Jochen Wenninger1,3, Adriana Gonzalez-Angarita4, and Hubert Savenije1 Cesar Dionisio Jimenez-Rodriguez et al.
  • 1Delft University of Technology, Water Resources Section, Stevinweg 1, 2628 CN Delft, the Netherlands
  • 2Tecnológico de Costa Rica, Escuela de Ingeniería Forestal, 159-7050, Cartago, Costa Rica
  • 3Department of Water Science and Engineering, IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, the Netherlands
  • 4independent researcher

Abstract. Tropical wet forests are complex ecosystems with a large number of plant species. These environments are characterized by a high water availability throughout the whole year and a complex canopy structure. However, how the different sections of the canopy contribute to total evaporation is poorly understood. The aim of this work is to estimate the total evaporation flux and differentiate the contribution among canopy layers of a tropical wet forest in Costa Rica. Monitoring the fluxes during the dry season by making use of the energy balance to quantify the fluxes and stable water isotopes to trace the sources of water vapor. Total evaporation was 275.5 mm and represents 55.9 % of the recorded precipitation (498.8 mm), with 11.7 % of the precipitation being intercepted and evaporated along the forest canopy. The understory beneath 8 m contributed with 23.6 % of the evaporation and almost half of it comes from the first 2 m of the understory. Stable water isotope signatures show different soil water sources depending on the plant type. Palms make use of a water source with an isotope signature similar to precipitation and throughfall. Soil water with a fractionated signature is used by trees, bushes and lianas. The isotope signature of water vapor samples overlap among different heights, but it was not possible to make use of the keeling plot method due to the similar isotope signature of the possible sources of water vapor as well as the high water concentration even on the dryer days.

Cesar Dionisio Jimenez-Rodriguez et al.
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Cesar Dionisio Jimenez-Rodriguez et al.
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Short summary
Tropical forest ecosystems are able to export a lot of water to the atmosphere by means of evaporation. However little is known how their complex structure affects this water flux. This manuscript analyzes the contribution of three canopy layers in terms of water fluxes and stable water isotope signatures. During the dry season in 2018, the two lower canopy layers provide 20 % of the measured evaporation, highlighting the importance to know how forest structure can affect the hydrological cycle.
Tropical forest ecosystems are able to export a lot of water to the atmosphere by means of...
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