Canopy interception of incident precipitation is a critical component of the forest water balance during each of the four seasons. Models have been developed to predict precipitation interception from standard meteorological variables because of acknowledged difficulty in extrapolating direct measurements of interception loss from forest to forest. No known study has compared and validated canopy interception models for a leafless deciduous forest stand in the eastern United States. Interception measurements from an experimental plot in a leafless deciduous forest in northeastern Maryland (39°42'N, 75°5'W) for 11 rainstorms in winter and early spring 2004/05 were compared to predictions from three models. The Mulder model maintains a moist canopy between storms. The Gash model requires few input variables and is formulated for a sparse canopy. The WiMo model optimizes the canopy storage capacity for the maximum wind speed during each storm. All models showed marked underestimates and overestimates for individual storms when the measured ratio of interception to gross precipitation was far more or less, respectively, than the specified fraction of canopy cover. The models predicted the percentage of total gross precipitation (PG) intercepted to within the probable standard error (8.1%) of the measured value: the Mulder model overestimated the measured value by 0.1% of PG; the WiMo model underestimated by 0.6% of PG; and the Gash model underestimated by 1.1% of PG. The WiMo model’s advantage over the Gash model indicates that the canopy storage capacity increases logarithmically with the maximum wind speed. This study has demonstrated that dormant-season precipitation interception in a leafless deciduous forest may be satisfactorily predicted by existing canopy interception models
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