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Interception in a mountainous declining


spruce stand in the Strengbach catchment
(Vosges, France)
DATASET SEPTEMBER 2015

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Journal of Hydrology, 144 (1993) 273-282


Elsevier Science Publishers B.V., Amsterdam

273

[31

Interception in a mountainous declining spruce


stand in the Strengbach catchment (Vosges,
France)
D. Viville a, P. Biron", A. Granier b, E. Dambrine b and A. Probstc
"Centre d'Etudes et de Reeherches Eco-G~ographiques (CEREG), ULP, 3 rue de l'Argonne, 67083
Strasbourg Cedex, France
bCentre de Recherches Forestikres (CRF), INRA Nancy-Amanee, Champenoux, 54280 Seichamps,
France
cCentre de Gkochimie de la Surface (CGS), CNRS, 1 rue Blessig, 67084 Strasbourg Cedex, France
(Received 30 November 1991; revision accepted 15 August 1992)

ABSTRACT
Viville, D., Biron, P., Granier, A., Dambrine, E. and Probst, A., 1993. Interception in a mountainous
declining spruce stand in the Strengbach catchment (Vosges, France). J. Hydrol., 144: 273-282.
In a over-mature (declining) 90-year-old Norway spruce stand (Picea abies) in the Vosges mountain
area, gross precipitation, throughfall, stemflow and meteorological variables have been measured for three
periods in the summers of 1988, 1989 and 1990; transpiration was measured from June to August 1989.
Throughfall, interception and stemflow represent, respectively, 65.3%, 34.2% and 0.5% of the incident
rainfall. A semi-logarithmic relationship between interception and gross precipitation is given. Transpiration of the stand determined by sap-flow measurements represents only 27% of the potential evapotranspiration. Evaporation of water intercepted by the vegetation is the major component of the evapotranspiration,

INTRODUCTION

In temperate regions, evaporation of water intercepted by the vegetation


represents an important part of the evapotranspiration, and sometimes the
major part (Calder, 1977). Recently, a study has been undertaken to characterize the functioning of a yellowing and crown thinning over-mature spruce
stand affected by Ca and Mg deficiencies, on a catchment on the eastern side
of the Vosges mountains (Strengbach, France: Probst et al., 1990); this
dieback may be partially attributed to periods of water stress in the past. To
Correspondence to: D. Viville, Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches Eco-G+ographiques
( C E R E G ) , U L P , 3 rue de I'Argonne, 67083 Strasbourg Cedex, France.

0022-1694/93/$06.00

1993 - - Elsevier Science Publishers B.V. All rights reserved

274

D. VIVILLE ET AL.

understand the internal water transfers, the water balance has been assessed,
with emphasis on identifying the major components of the hydrological cycle
at the stand scale (rainfall, interception and transpiration).
MATERIAL AND METHODS

Experimental site
The stand is located at 1075 m elevation on a 15 south-facing slope on the
80 ha Strengbach catchment (Aubure, Vosges massif; 4812'N, 712'E). The
Strengbach catchment is a site for multidisciplinary studies in hydrological,
geochemical and forest research in France. The stand lies on a brown acidic
soil developed on the base-poor leucogranite du Brezouard. The stand is
composed of over-mature 90-year-old N o r w a y spruce (Picea abies) and covers
about two-thirds of the basin. Yellowing and 30% defoliation are obvious
symptoms of base deficiencies within the stand. Measurements were
undertaken on a 80m x 50m plot characterized by a density of 575
trees ha -7 , a mean height of 25 m, a basal area of 53.3 m 2ha-~ and a leaf area
index of 3.23 (Asael, 1990). The climate is o f temperate-oceanic-mountainous
character, so precipitation is distributed regularly through the year. Mean
annual precipitation averages about 1400ram.

Precipitation (Pi)
Precipitation was measured in a nearby clearing with two gauges: a tippingbucket gauge of I m height and 2000 cm 2 in area (Pg) and a 'SPIEA' (Benoit
S.A.R.L., Alfortville) pit gauge (P~) 400cm 2 in area. The pit gauge is
considered as a reference (Sevruk, 1982). The relation between these two
gauges is
P~ =

1 . 0 7 6 P g - 0.761

(n = 59,

R2 = 0.994,

SE = 1.81)

This equation was used to calculate P~ for events measured before the installation o f the pit gauge.

Throughfall (Ps)
Throughfall was measured, during the first year, by three rows o f 16
'SPIEA' gauges at fixed locations 3 m apart, on contour lines. The total
rainfall collection area was 19 200 cm 2. Figure 1 illustrates the spatial variability (standard deviation and coefficient of variation) of the mean throughfall.
The mean values for any row of 16 rain gauges differ little from the other rows;

275

INTERCEPTION IN A MOUNTAINOUS D E C L I N I N G SPRUCE STAND

8
v

J o

"~

STD48

ED
~+

E3

""

STD16

CV48

CV16

+
+
~

2
-4-

~ o

"40

20

ill

>
O

THROUGHFALL (MM)

Fig. 1. Throughfall spatial variability (standard deviation and coefficient of variation) for 48 and 16 rain
gauges.

statistical comparisons of population (mean, variance) show that one row is


representative--for throughfall (Ps)--of the whole stand. Hence, during the
measurement periods in the second and third years only one row of gauges
was used. For all three measurement periods, the spatial variability decreases
as precipitation increases, as is shown by the changes in the coefficients of
variability and from the results of previous studies (El Hadj Moussa, 1988;
Durocher, 1990).

Stemflow (S)
Spiral gutters connected to a barrel were used to measure stemflow from
four trees representative of the distribution of stem diameters.

Transpiration (T )
Transpiration was assessed by sap flow measurements (Granier, 1985) on
five trees representative of the total stand basal area of sapwood from June
to August 1989. Two cylindrical probes, 2 m m in diameter, were inserted into
the sapwood, one above the other, about 20 cm apart. The upper probe was
heated at a constant rate and the temperature was recorded by the thermocouple contained in each probe; the greater the temperature difference the
lower the sap flux density.

276

D. V1VILLE ET AL.

TABLE 1
Summary of results for the mature spruce stand of Aubure
Period of measurement

Pi

Ps

(ram)

(ram)

(ram)

(mm)

583
588.3
539.3
1710.6

392.5
401.1
323.7
1117.3

1.6
3.9
3.4
8.9

188.9
183.3
212.2
584.4

24/5/88-2/11/88
24/4/89-16/10/89

7/5190-5/11/90
Total

1/Pi

0.324
0.312
0.393
0.342

Potential evapotranspiration (PET)


Daily potential evapotranspiration (PET) was calculated using Penmann's
formula with ETP-AUTO software (Mahr and Najjar, 1991). An automatic
weather station in the adjacent clearing provided the necessary data on
shortwave radiation, air temperature and humidity and wind speed. Seventynine measurements were made in summer periods from April to November
after each rainfall event in 1988, 1989 and 1990. Interception (I) is defined as
the difference between openfield precipitation (Pi) and the sum of throughfall
(Ps) plus stemflow (S): I = Pi - (Ps + S).
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Precipitation (Pi)
Rainfall totals are of the same order of magnitude and the numbers of events
are almost the same each year (Tables 1 and 2). However, the distribution of
storms varied between years; 1988 was characterized by numerous 10-40 mm
storms, 1989 by low-magnitude events and a 142 mm thunderstorm (in two
showers), and 1990 by low rainfall and 30-40 mm events (Table 2 and Fig. 2).
TABLE 2
Distribution of rainfall events
<10mm
1988
4
1989 12
1990
9
Total 25

10-19ram 20-29mm 30-39mm 40-49mm 50-59mm

> 6 0 r a m Total

10
6
5
21

0
1
0
1

5
2
3
I0

4
2
7
13

0
3
1
4

3
1
1
5

26
27
26
79

277

INTERCEPTION 1N A M O U N T A I N O U S DECLINING SPRUCE STAND

150

lips

I I'

125

100

~"

75

50

25

ii

iiiiii

1988

i[11

iii

ii i~'ll

1989

iii

iii

iii

i i

illilll[ll

iiiiiiiiii

1990

Fig. 2. Throughfall (Ps) and interception (1) for the 79 measured rainfall events over the three summer
measurement periods.

Throughfall (Ps)
For the whole measurement period, throughfall represents 65.3% of the
incident rainfall (Table 1), this is comparable with results obtained in other
studies for stands of same age and density (Delfs, 1965; Rutter et al., 1971;
Tuzinsky, 1987; Johnson, 1990). However, Ps varies between 60 and 67.3%
because of the interannual variability as a result of the temporal rainfall
structure; the larger the number of low-magnitude events the lower is the
throughfall.

Stem#ow (S)
Total stemflow is only 8.9 ram, i.e. 0.5% of incident rainfall; this result is
comparable with those obtained for similar stands (Dells, 1965; Gash and
Morton, 1978; Anderson and Pyatt, 1986; Johnson, 1990).

Relationship between Pi and I


Interception represents 0.342Pi for the whole period but varies considerably depending on events (Fig. 2). In the spruce stand, the relationship has
been calculated for 16 continuous and individual events but for varying
intensities and durations by following a technique previously developed and
used by Jackson (1975), Schulze et al. (1978) and Pook et al. (1991a). The

278

D. VIVILLE ET AL.

n= 16
R= 0,913
0
I= O,355+3,723Log(PI)

g 4
o

J~

Intensity< 2 mm/h

: :0:eZ;':::.2
!

10

20
Pi

30
(mm)

40

Fig. 3. Relationship between interception (I) and openfield (Pi) rainfall for individual but continuous
events.

method uses a semi-logarithmic relationship between interception and precipitation. The results of this exercise are presented in Fig. 3. The equation fitted
is
I(mm)

0.355 + 3.7231ogm(Pi)

(N = 16, R 2 = 0.833)

The canopy saturation capacity is about 4 mm after some 10 mm of rain has


fallen (Fig. 3). However, this relationship varies for different hydrological
events. Some important low-intensity and long-duration events provide
higher values of interception. This implies that evaporation occurs during the
rainfall event and that the canopy is not completely saturated (Pook et al.,
1991b). Therefore, in the spruce stand studied, higher-intensity events allow
canopy saturation to be estimated with more precision.

Relation between I, ET and PET


As ground evaporation is negligible in this stand, because there is no
understorey, actual evapotranspiration (ET) is the sum of interception by the
canopy plus transpiration of the trees. During the summer 1989 period
(June-August), for which values of both I and T are available, results (Table 3
and Fig. 4) show that the hydrology of the spruce stand is characterized by
a low ET during the study period (ET = 0.65 PET) compared with a young
plantation nearby where ET = 0.8 PET (Biron et al., 1991). The absence of
any water stress which could reduce transpiration during the measurement

INTERCEPTIONIN A MOUNTAINOUSDECLININGSPRUCESTAND

279

TABLE 3
Components of the evapotranspiration for June-August 1989
I (mm)

T (mm)

ET (mm)

PET (mm)

ET/PET

//PET

T/PET

I/ET

T/ET

80.3

58.6

138.9

213.5

0.65

0.376

0.274

0.578

0,422

period implies that this old and declining stand is functioning at a very low
physiological level; the transpiration of this stand represents only 0.27 PET.
To compare transpiration results obtained on related species in similar
climatic conditions we need studies at both the tree and stand scale to take the
density effect into account. At the tree scale, the daily maximum observed
transpiration rate ranges from 31 day- l for a suppressed tree to 651 day-~ for
a dominant tree, on a summer sunny day; corresponding T and PET values
are 1.8 m m and 4.0 mm, respectively. These results are lower than or of the
same magnitude as those found for similar stands elsewhere: Schulze et al.
(1985) measured a 55.81day -~ transpiration for a 72-year-old spruce tree,
Knight et al. (1981) found values of 40-441day -1 (corresponding to
3.3 m m d a y - ' ) for a 100-year-old dense Pinus contorta stand in the Northwestern mountains of the USA during summer sunny days, Molnar and

0
~.
n
I.u

250

I.I.I
D-

200

.................. Interception(I)
Evapotranspiration(

E r /

'~

O~

15O

100
I

E>

50 ~

...........,~""'"'~"
, = . . l ~ . . i , p *~l='='|W

t'"""

mO

50

100

150

200

CUMULATIVE

PENMAN

250

PET (mm)

Fig. 4. Cumulative values of actual (ET) and potential (PET) evapotranspiration of the stand for a 2 month
summer period.

280

D. VIV1LLE ET A L

TABLE 4
Interception and evapotranspiration for the three measurement periods
Period of measurement

PET (mm)

I (ram)

//PET

24/5/88-2/11/88
24/4/89-16/10/89
7/5/90-5/11/90
Total

376.5
493.2
472
1341.7

188.9
183.3
212.2
584.4

0.502
0.372
0.45
0.436

Meszaros (1990) found values ranging between 8 and 601day -~ for mature
spruces in the Tatras mountains, and Cermak and Kucera (1987) found a
maximal transpiration rate--for a spruce--of 1301 day -t . At the stand scale,
the T value observed is very low compared with that for a nearby young pole
plantation in the same catchment (Biron et al., 1991) where T = 0.45 PET; in
mature spruce stands in South Moravia (Cermak and Kucera, 1987) T was
found to be greater than 0.4 PET during the growing season.
This implies that the low transpiration of the Strengbach stand is the result
of both the rather low physiological functioning level of the trees and the low
density (575 trees ha -~) of the stand. However, it is difficult to attribute this
low transpiration to the age of the stand (90 years) or to a forest decline effect;
Werk et al. (1988) showed that transpiration was not significantly different
between healthy and declining young spruces in Bavaria, but few studies are
available on this topic and further investigations are needed to clarify this
point.
The interception rate (I = 0.26Pi) is also rather low for this short period.
This feature is explained by the low interception rate (10%) of the major
142 m m thunderstorm (in two main showers) in 1989 (142 mm of the 304 mm
yearly total gross rainfall). However, if related to PET, I represents 0.38 PET
and is its major component. For the whole period of measurement, I
represents 0.436 of the summer PET values (Table 4); this represents about
75% of the annual PET, which varies between 550 and 650ram in the
catchment (Probst et al., 1991). During winter, water is not limiting, so E T i s
approximately equal to PET (annual winter PET is 125-150 ram); I is almost
the only component of E T because T is negligible in winter. Thus, more than
100 m m of water is intercepted during the winter and added to the 200 mm
summer interception so that the yearly total of intercepted water is estimated
at around 300 m m in this stand.
CONCLUSIONS
The mean summertime rainfall interception of a declining spruce stand

INTERCEPTION IN A MOUNTAINOUS DECLINING SPRUCE STAND

281

averaged 34% of the incident rainfall; this value varied from year to year
owing to the irregular structure of the rainfall distribution. Use of a semilogarithmic relationship between interception and gross precipitation allowed
the canopy saturation capacity to be estimated at about 4 mm. Calculation of
transpiration from sap flow measurements for 2 months showed that the
mature stand had a transpiration of only 0.27 PET. Hence, rainfall interception is the major component of actual evapotranspiration in this type of stand.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Within the framework of the DEFORPA Programme, this research has


been supported by the ECC-DGXII, the French Ministry of the Environment,
the French Ministry of Research and the R6gion Alsace.
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