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Canopy interception of apple orchards should not be ignored when assessing evapotranspiration partitioning on the Loess Plateau in China

Wang, Di, Wang, Li
Hydrological processes 2019 v.33 no.3 pp. 372-382
apples, ecosystems, evaporation, evapotranspiration, leaf area index, orchards, rain, rain intensity, soil, stemflow, throughfall, transpiration, tree age, water interception, water supply, China
Canopy interception is one of the most important processes in an ecosystem, but it is still neglected when assessing evapotranspiration (ET) partitioning in apple orchards on the Loess Plateau in China. To explore the importance of canopy interception, we monitored two neighbouring apple orchards on the Loess Plateau in China, one 8‐year‐old and the other 18‐years old at the start of the study, from May to September for four consecutive years (2013–2016). We measured parameters of canopy interception (I) including precipitation, throughfall, stemflow, leaf area index, transpiration (T), and soil evaporation (S) to quantify ET. The importance of canopy interception was then assessed by comparing the relationship between water supply (precipitation) and water demand (ET), calculated with and without considering canopy interception (T + S and T + S + I, respectively). Tree age clearly influenced canopy interception, as estimates of annual canopy interception during the study years in the younger and older orchards amounted to 22.2–29.4 mm and 26.8–39.9 mm, respectively. Daily incident rainfall and rainfall intensity in both orchards were significantly positively correlated with daily canopy interception in each year. The relationship between annual precipitation and annual ET (calculated with and without consideration of canopy interception) in the younger orchard differed during 2015 and 2016. Ignoring canopy interception would result in underestimation of annual ET in both apple orchards and hence incorrect evaluation of the relationship between water supply and water demand, particularly for the younger orchard during 2015 and 2016. Thus, for a complete understanding of water consumption in apple orchards in this and similar regions, canopy interception should not be ignored when assessing ET partitioning.