Water Quality Research Journal of Canada

Vol. 44 (1): 16 - 25 (2009). Innovative Approaches to Stormwater Management in Canada

A New Approach in Measuring Rainfall Interception by Urban Trees in Coastal British Columbia

   Yeganeh Asadian, Markus Weiler

Abstract
Interception loss plays an important role in controlling the water balance of a watershed, especially where urban development has taken place. The aim of this study was to illustrate the importance of urban trees as a form of 'green infrastructure' where they reduce stormwater runoff and rainwater intensity. In addition, trees cause a delay in precipitation reaching the ground. Interception loss was studied in the North Shore of British Columbia. We applied a unique methodology for measuring throughfall under six different urban trees using a system of long polyvinyl chloride pipes hung beneath the canopy capturing the throughfall and draining it to a rain gauge attached to a data logger. Different tree species (Douglas-fi r [Pseudotsuga menziesii] and western red cedar [Thuja plicata]) in variable landscape sites (streets, parks, and natural forested areas) and elevations were selected to ensure that the system adequately captured the throughfall variability. Interception and throughfall were monitored over a one year cycle for which the results of seven discrete storm events for coniferous trees from the District of North Vancouver during 2007 to 2008 are presented. Cumulative gross precipitation for seven selected events was 377 mm. Average canopy interception during these events for Douglas-fi r and western red cedar were 49.1 and 60.9%, where it corresponded to average net loss of 20.4 and 32.3 mm, respectively. The interception loss varied depending on canopy structure, climatic conditions, and rainfall characteristics.

Keywords
interception loss, stormwater runoff, throughfall, urban environment

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