Forest Hydrology: Advances in Measuring and Modelling the Influences of Forests on Water Cycles

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Ecohydrology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2023) | Viewed by 19162

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
School of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Yunnan University, Kunming, China
Interests: ecohydrology; micrometeorology; ecosystem ecology; long-term ecological research; forest–atmosphere interaction
Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center, Southern Research Station, US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA
Interests: effects of climate change and land management on water quantity and quality, and water supply and demand at a regional scale; Application of computer simulation models, GIS, and remote sensing in regional hydrology; Evapotranspiration and ecosystem productivity modeling at regional to continental scales
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The influences of forests on the water cycles have been recognized since ancient times. Modern forest hydrology, the study of water movement in forests, emerged in the 1960s to address environmental issues such as soil erosion, air pollution, and watershed management.  Large progress has been made globally since then in both sciences and applications. We now know that forests are important in regulating water quantity and quality at multiple scales. Understanding forest and water relations is important for solving many emerging environmental issues facing humankind, including the grand challenges of climate change and population growth.

We now live in a new era, a new geological epoch-the Anthropocene, in which forest hydrology clearly has a new mission. We need renewed knowledge and principles of forest hydrology at a much broader scale and view the Earth as one ecosystem. We need mechanistic explanations of ecohydrological patterns so that we can improve our ability to predict future changes in water resources and adapt to a new environment.

New technologies are emerging.  New sensors, eddy covariance techniques, satellite Li-DAR, processed-based models, and big data offer new approaches to answer bigger questions on forest hydrology. It is for these reasons outlined above that we have proposed this Special Issue. You are welcome to submit your research to this issue. All topics related to forest hydrology are encouraged, including:
  • New technologies in forest hydrology research;
  • Human disturbance and forest hydrological service;
  • Process-based hydrological models;
  • Forest management and climatic changes;
  • Evapotranspiration;
  • Forest–atmospheric interaction;
  • Hydrological consequences of man-made plantations;
  • Energy, water, and carbon tradeoffs;
  • Forests and floods.

Prof. Dr. Zheng Hong Tan
Dr. Ge Sun
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • remote sensing
  • eddy flux
  • watershed
  • forest management
  • long-term ecological research
  • data science

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

12 pages, 6965 KiB  
Article
Climate Seasonality of Tropical Evergreen Forest Region
by Long-Xiao Luo, Zhong-Yi Sun and Zheng-Hong Tan
Water 2024, 16(5), 749; https://doi.org/10.3390/w16050749 - 1 Mar 2024
Viewed by 985
Abstract
Climatic seasonality has lacked research attention in terms of global tropical forests, where it impacts vegetation productivity, biodiversity, and hydrological cycles. This study employs two methods—climatological anomalous accumulation (CAA) and potential evapotranspiration (PET) threshold—to detect the climatic seasonality of global tropical forests, including [...] Read more.
Climatic seasonality has lacked research attention in terms of global tropical forests, where it impacts vegetation productivity, biodiversity, and hydrological cycles. This study employs two methods—climatological anomalous accumulation (CAA) and potential evapotranspiration (PET) threshold—to detect the climatic seasonality of global tropical forests, including the onset and duration of wet seasons. Spatial clustering based on the length of the wet season is used to delineate smaller regions within the tropical forest areas to observe their precipitation patterns. The results show that these methods effectively reveal more homogeneous regions and their respective rainfall patterns. In particular, we found that the wet season in Amazon forests detected by the CAA method is more uniform in space than the PET threshold, but the global tropical forest regions divided by the CAA method on average contain more complex climates than the PET threshold. Moreover, the year-round abundant precipitation in Southeast Asia, which is strongly influenced by monsoons, presents challenges for wet season detection. Overall, this work provides an objective perspective for understanding the climatic seasonality changes in tropical forests and lays a scientific foundation for future forest management and the development of adaptation strategies to global climate change. Full article
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26 pages, 18408 KiB  
Article
Divergence in Quantifying ET with Independent Methods in a Primary Karst Forest under Complex Terrain
by Qingyun Li, Wenjie Liu, Lu Zheng, Shengyuan Liu, Ang Zhang, Peng Wang, Yan Jin, Qian Liu and Bo Song
Water 2023, 15(10), 1823; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15101823 - 10 May 2023
Viewed by 1433
Abstract
A multi-technology study of evapotranspiration was conducted on the tropical seasonal forest in Nonggang Karst of Guangxi. From January 2019 to June 2020, three independent methods, including the eddy covariance method (EC), resistance method and Penman–Monteith method (PM), were used to estimate the [...] Read more.
A multi-technology study of evapotranspiration was conducted on the tropical seasonal forest in Nonggang Karst of Guangxi. From January 2019 to June 2020, three independent methods, including the eddy covariance method (EC), resistance method and Penman–Monteith method (PM), were used to estimate the annual evapotranspiration (ET). We found that the estimated annual ET varied dramatically: with values of 456.66 mm (EC), 292.24 mm (resistance method) and 699.59 mm (PM), respectively. The values were all lower than the reference evapotranspiration (853.26 mm year−1) and potential evapotranspiration (1030.61 mm year−1). The EC method had an energy imbalance problem, with an annual energy closure of 46% at the annual scale. The annual estimate of evapotranspiration after a 100% energy closure correction was 915.03 mm, which was higher than the reference evapotranspiration (853.26 mm), so the corrected annual estimates were considered to be unreasonable. Comparing the resistance method with the EC method, it was found that not only is the annual evapotranspiration (ET) lower in the EC method, but the sensible heat flux is also lower, indicating that the resistivity method has lower energy closure than the EC method, suggesting that this method is not suitable for use in karst forests. When comparing the PM method with the EC method, surface conductivity is the most critical parameter. As the most difficult parameter to quantify in the Penman–Monteith equation, the key influencing factor, maximum stomatal conductance, was carefully explored. In the selection of maximum stomatal conductance, the sensitivity of annual evapotranspiration to maximum stomatal conductance values was first analyzed. It was found that the sensitivity is strong before 0.018 m s−1. When gsmax is 0.0025 m s−1, the annual evapotranspiration (456 mm) is equivalent to that of the EC method, and it slowly decreases after reaching 0.018 ms−1. This indicates that when gsmax is 0.0025 m s−1, the annual evapotranspiration is lower or higher than the critical value of the EC method. Therefore, different maximum stomatal conductance values will result in annual evapotranspiration based on the PM method being higher or lower than the annual evapotranspiration measured by the EC method. In order to obtain a more accurate maximum stomatal conductance, the surface conductance was calculated based on the PM equation, using the maximum stomatal conductance of four key tree species in the study area. The FAO universal fixed surface conductance of 1/70 m s−1 was used to constrain the calculation. The reason for this treatment is that the reference underlying surface of FAO is a uniformly flat and well-watered grassland, with a larger surface conductance than forests. The results showed that the selected maximum stomatal conductance values were all within a reasonable range, and the calculated annual evapotranspiration values were 267.28 mm, 596.42 mm, 699.59 mm and 736.90 mm, respectively. Considering the EC method as the lower limit (456.66 mm), the reference evapotranspiration as the upper limit (853.26 mm) and the specific vegetation in the study area, the estimated annual evapotranspiration of the primary forest in the Nonggang karst area of Guangxi (PM method) falls within the range of 596.42 mm to 736.90 mm, which is relatively reasonable. Full article
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20 pages, 21872 KiB  
Article
Atmospheric Exchange of Carbon Dioxide and Water Vapor above a Tropical Sandy Coastal Plain
by Jun-Ting Jia, Yang Xue, Jun-Fu Zhao, Zhong-Yang Yang, Shao-Feng Su, Xiao-Yan Wang, Zhi-Pan Lin, Guan-Ze Wang, Lian-Yan Yang and Xiang Zhang
Water 2023, 15(5), 877; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15050877 - 24 Feb 2023
Viewed by 1707
Abstract
As a unique type of ecosystem, tropical coastal sandy vegetation lies in the transition zone extending from coastal beaches to further inland and provides important ecosystem services such as windproofing, tourism, and agriculture. However, the energy and matter fluxes of these tropical coastal [...] Read more.
As a unique type of ecosystem, tropical coastal sandy vegetation lies in the transition zone extending from coastal beaches to further inland and provides important ecosystem services such as windproofing, tourism, and agriculture. However, the energy and matter fluxes of these tropical coastal ecosystems have been rarely studied. We reported one-year eddy flux observations in a tropical sandy coastal ecosystem and specifically focused on the carbon and water exchanges between the atmosphere and the ecosystem. The studied ecosystem was a carbon sink (approximately –560 gC m−2 yr−1) and approximately 1000 mm of water evaporated from the ecosystem into the atmosphere during the study year. The highest levels of vegetation photosynthesis occurred in April, shortly before the wet season. This can be attributed to an endogenous self-adjustment of the ecosystem to improve the water- and carbon-use efficiency during the wet season. This study is expected to not only fill the data gap with respect to the gas exchange between tropical sandy coastal plains and the atmosphere but also provide knowledge about the function and ecological service of these specific ecosystems. Full article
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20 pages, 5328 KiB  
Article
Water-Use Strategies and Habitat Adaptation of Four Tree Species in Karstic Climax Forest in Maolan
by Fangjun Ding, Congjun Yuan, Ting Zhou, Juan Cheng, Peng Wu and Yuyan Ye
Water 2023, 15(1), 203; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15010203 - 3 Jan 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1553
Abstract
The technique of stable hydrogen and oxygen isotope tracing has become an important means to study the mechanism of water movement due to its high sensitivity and traceability. In this study, four dominant tree species in the karst forest of Maolan, Guizhou Province, [...] Read more.
The technique of stable hydrogen and oxygen isotope tracing has become an important means to study the mechanism of water movement due to its high sensitivity and traceability. In this study, four dominant tree species in the karst forest of Maolan, Guizhou Province, were selected, and their water-use strategies and the mechanism of maintenance of tree species diversity were investigated using the stable hydrogen and oxygen isotope tracing technique. The results show that: (1) The regional precipitation varied evidently with the alternation of seasons, i.e., the values of δD and δ18O in precipitation had a positive bias in spring and a negative bias in summer and autumn. The value of deuterium excess (d-excess) was between 11.67‰ and 31.02‰, with a mean value of 22.98‰. (2) The soil temperature (ST), soil water content (SWC) and precipitation, which have a significant positive correlation, imposed a joint impact on the dynamics of the soil evaporative fractionation. (3) The line-conditioned excess (LC-excess) varied seasonally in different water bodies, i.e., the relative evaporative fractionation of the rhizosphere soil of deciduous tree species was stronger than that of evergreen tree species, and the evaporative fractionation of hydrogen and oxygen isotopes in the leaf water of evergreen tree species was stronger than that of deciduous tree species in spring and summer. However, that of the latter was stronger than that of the former in autumn. (4) The soil water was the most important potential water source for dominant tree species in karst terrain (71%), followed by epikarstic water, which made up an effective supplement (29%). (5) Finally, trees of different life forms and species varied in capacity and proportion in terms of using the potential water sources in different seasons, i.e., deciduous tree species had a greater capacity for using water from potential sources and variable water-use strategies. This may be a major water-limiting mechanism that maintains photosynthesis in the leaves of evergreen tree species (leaves are evergreen and plants continue to grow via photosynthesis) and constrains photosynthesis in deciduous tree species (leaves fall and plants become dormant and stop growing). These results lead to the conclusion that the dominant tree species in karstic forests resist water stress and adjust water-use strategies towards each potential water source to adapt to the harsh karstic habitat through root plasticity and leaf defoliation. Full article
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19 pages, 3258 KiB  
Article
Spatially Distributed Overstory and Understory Leaf Area Index Estimated from Forest Inventory Data
by Sara A. Goeking and David G. Tarboton
Water 2022, 14(15), 2414; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14152414 - 4 Aug 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1873
Abstract
Forest change affects the relative magnitudes of hydrologic fluxes such as evapotranspiration (ET) and streamflow. However, much is unknown about the sensitivity of streamflow response to forest disturbance and recovery. Several physically based models recognize the different influences that overstory versus understory canopies [...] Read more.
Forest change affects the relative magnitudes of hydrologic fluxes such as evapotranspiration (ET) and streamflow. However, much is unknown about the sensitivity of streamflow response to forest disturbance and recovery. Several physically based models recognize the different influences that overstory versus understory canopies exert on hydrologic processes, yet most input datasets consist of total leaf area index (LAI) rather than individual canopy strata. Here, we developed stratum-specific LAI datasets with the intent of improving the representation of vegetation for ecohydrologic modeling. We applied three pre-existing methods for estimating overstory LAI, and one new method for estimating both overstory and understory LAI, to measurements collected from a probability-based plot network established by the US Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program, for a modeling domain in Montana, MT, USA. We then combined plot-level LAI estimates with spatial datasets (i.e., biophysical and remote sensing predictors) in a machine learning algorithm (random forests) to produce annual gridded LAI datasets. Methods that estimate only overstory LAI tended to underestimate LAI relative to Landsat-based LAI (mean bias error ≥ 0.83), while the method that estimated both overstory and understory layers was most strongly correlated with Landsat-based LAI (r2 = 0.80 for total LAI, with mean bias error of -0.99). During 1984-2019, interannual variability of understory LAI exceeded that for overstory LAI; this variability may affect partitioning of precipitation to ET vs. runoff at annual timescales. We anticipate that distinguishing overstory and understory components of LAI will improve the ability of LAI-based models to simulate how forest change influences hydrologic processes. Full article
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21 pages, 3342 KiB  
Article
Energy Balance Closure Problem over a Tropical Seasonal Rainforest in Xishuangbanna, Southwest China: Role of Latent Heat Flux
by Yan Jin, Yue Liu, Jiahui Liu and Xiang Zhang
Water 2022, 14(3), 395; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14030395 - 27 Jan 2022
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2800
Abstract
The unresolved energy-unclosed problem in micrometeorology refers to the fact that the sum of turbulent fluxes (sensible and latent heat fluxes, Hs and LE) monitored by eddy covariance (EC) methods tends to be lower than the available energy (net radiation (Rn), soil heat [...] Read more.
The unresolved energy-unclosed problem in micrometeorology refers to the fact that the sum of turbulent fluxes (sensible and latent heat fluxes, Hs and LE) monitored by eddy covariance (EC) methods tends to be lower than the available energy (net radiation (Rn), soil heat flux (G), and heat storage (S)). The lack of energy balance closure (EBC) increases evapotranspiration-measurement uncertainty. Using EC data from Xishuangbanna, a Southeast Asian tropical seasonal rainforest, we analyzed the energy distribution and closure based on micrometeorological features. We found that: (1) the EBC in the rainy season exceeds that in other seasons and that the seasonal moisture content, frictional wind velocity (u*), and LE contribute to the high seasonal variability in EBC; (2) the annual closure is approximately 65%, and energy non-closure is influenced by turbulence intensity and atmospheric stability. When the atmospheric state is unstable to near neutral, u* is greatest, and EBC can reach nearly 80%. (3) energy is mainly allocated to LE, and energy non-closure leads to LE underestimation, especially in the foggy-cool and hot-dry seasons. (4) Heat storage and large time-scale flux effects on EBC were excluded. The causes of energy non-closure in the tropical calm zone need further investigation. Full article
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10 pages, 1498 KiB  
Article
Interception and Redistribution of Precipitation by Parkinsonia aculeata L.: Implications for Palo Verde National Park Wetlands, Costa Rica
by Julio César Calvo-Alvarado, César Dionisio Jiménez-Rodríguez, Juan Carlos Solano and Oscar Arias-Rodríguez
Water 2022, 14(3), 311; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14030311 - 20 Jan 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2849
Abstract
Seasonal wetlands in the tropics are important habitats for local and migratory bird species. In the northwestern Pacific of Costa Rica, Palo Verde National Park has one of the most important seasonal wetlands of Central America. The management history of this wetland has [...] Read more.
Seasonal wetlands in the tropics are important habitats for local and migratory bird species. In the northwestern Pacific of Costa Rica, Palo Verde National Park has one of the most important seasonal wetlands of Central America. The management history of this wetland has shown the impact of invasive plant species such as Parkinsonia aculeata L. whose cover extension and canopy structure impact not only the ecological niches of bird species, but also the wetland hydrology. A 300 m2 plot was established in a P. aculeata stand to evaluate the role of P. aculeata on the partitioning and redistribution of precipitation. Gross precipitation (PGr), throughfall (PTF) and stemflow (PSF) were measured on a daily basis to determine the interception of precipitation (PI) and net precipitation (PNet). A total of 43 precipitation events were sampled during the wet season of 2003. We measured 530.5 mm of PGr and 458 mm of PTF, with an average sampling error of 0.7 mm or 6.1%. Canopy storage capacity was estimated at 1.47 mm, throughfall 88.73%, stem flow 2.63% and a total interception of 8.64%, with a PNet coefficient of 0.9475. The relationships between gross precipitation (PGr) with throughfall (PTF), stemflow (PSF) and net precipitation (PNet) were evaluated using linear regression models. P. aculeata showed to have one of the highest net precipitation and lowest precipitation interception among small trees. Full article
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14 pages, 2087 KiB  
Article
A Study on Sensitivities of Tropical Forest GPP Responding to the Characteristics of Drought—A Case Study in Xishuangbanna, China
by Qian Xiong, Zhongyi Sun, Wei Cui, Jizhou Lei, Xiuxian Fu and Lan Wu
Water 2022, 14(2), 157; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14020157 - 7 Jan 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1918
Abstract
Droughts that occur in tropical forests (TF) are expected to significantly impact the gross primary production (GPP) and the capacity of carbon sinks. Therefore, it is crucial to evaluate and analyze the sensitivities of TF-GPP to the characteristics of drought events for understanding [...] Read more.
Droughts that occur in tropical forests (TF) are expected to significantly impact the gross primary production (GPP) and the capacity of carbon sinks. Therefore, it is crucial to evaluate and analyze the sensitivities of TF-GPP to the characteristics of drought events for understanding global climate change. In this study, the standardized precipitation index (SPI) was used to define the drought intensity. Then, the spatially explicit individual-based dynamic global vegetation model (SEIB-DGVM) was utilized to simulate the dynamic process of GPP corresponding to multi-gradient drought scenarios—rain and dry seasons × 12 level durations × 4 level intensities. The results showed that drought events in the dry season have a significantly greater impact on TF-GPP than drought events in the rainy season, especially short-duration drought events. Furthermore, the impact of drought events in the rainy season is mainly manifested in long-duration droughts. Due to abundant rainfall in the rainy season, only extreme drought events caused a significant reduction in GPP, while the lack of water in the dry season caused significant impacts due to light drought. Effective precipitation and soil moisture stock in the rainy season are the most important support for the tropical forest dry season to resist extreme drought events in the study area. Further water deficit may render the tropical forest ecosystem more sensitive to drought events. Full article
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22 pages, 5412 KiB  
Article
Estimating Regional Evapotranspiration Using a Satellite-Based Wind Speed Avoiding Priestley–Taylor Approach
by Jingjing Sun, Wen Wang, Xiaogang Wang and Dui Huang
Water 2021, 13(21), 3144; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13213144 - 8 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2086
Abstract
Wind speed (u) is a significant constraint in the evapotranspiration modeling over the highly heterogeneous regional surface due to its high temporal-spatial variation. In this study, a satellite-based Wind Speed Avoiding Priestley–Taylor (WAPT) algorithm was proposed to estimate the regional actual [...] Read more.
Wind speed (u) is a significant constraint in the evapotranspiration modeling over the highly heterogeneous regional surface due to its high temporal-spatial variation. In this study, a satellite-based Wind Speed Avoiding Priestley–Taylor (WAPT) algorithm was proposed to estimate the regional actual evapotranspiration by employing a u-independent theoretical trapezoidal space to determine the pixel Priestley–Taylor (PT) parameter Φ. The WAPT model was comprehensively evaluated with hydro-meteorological observations in the arid Heihe River Basin in northwestern China. The results show that the WAPT model can provide reliable latent heat flux estimations with the root-mean-square error (RMSE) of 46.0 W/m2 across 2013–2018 for 5 long-term observation stations and the RMSE of 49.6 W/m2 in the growing season in 2012 for 21 stations with intensive observations. The estimation by WAPT has a higher precision in the vegetation growing season than in the non-growing season. The estimation by WAPT has a closer agreement with the ground observations for vegetation-covered surfaces (e.g., corn and wetland) than that for dry sites (e.g., Gobi, desert, and desert steppe). Full article
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