Agricultural and Forest Meterology
The Luquillo Mountains of northeastern Puerto Rico harbours important fractions of tropical montane cloud forests. Although it is well known that the frequent occurrence of dense fog is a common climatic characteristic of cloud forests around the world, it is poorly understood how fog processes shape and influence these ecosystems. Our study focuses on the physical characteristics of fog and quantifies the fogwater input to elfin cloud forest using direct eddy covariance net flux measurements during a 43-day period in 2002. We used an ultrasonic anemometer–thermometer in combination with a size-resolving cloud droplet spectrometer capable of providing number counts in 40 droplet size classes at a rate of 12.5 times per second. Fog occurred during 85% of the time, and dense fog with a visibility <200 m persisted during 74% of the period. Fog droplet size depended linearly on liquid water content (r2=0.89) with a volume-weighted mean diameter of 13.8 View the MathML sourcem. Due to the high frequency of occurrence of fog the total fogwater deposition measured with the eddy covariance method and corrected for condensation and advection effects in the persistent up-slope air flow, averaged 4.36 mm day−1, rainfall during the same period was 28 mm day−1. Thus, our estimates of the contribution of fogwater to the hydrological budget of elfin cloud forests is considerable and higher than in any other location for which comparable data exist but still not a very large component in the hydrological budget. For estimating fogwater fluxes for locations without detailed information about fog droplet distributions we provide simple empirical relationships using visibility data.
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