Rainfall, Runoff and Elevation Relationships in the Luquillo Mountains of Puerto Rico

Garcia, A.R. Warner, G.S. Scatena, F. and Civco, D.L. 2002. Bisley Rainfall and
Throughfall Rainfall, Runoff and Elevation Relationships in the Luquillo
mountains of Puerto Rico. Caribbean Journal of Science. 2002 (In press).
Published as Scientific Contribution No. 1642 of the Storrs Agricultural
Experiment Station.

Long-terrn rainfall and discharge data from the Luquillo Experimental Forest (LEF) were analysed to develop relationships between rainfall, stream-runoff and elevation. These relationships were then used with a Geographic Information System (GIS) to determine spatially-averaged, mean annual hydrologic budgets for watersheds and forest types within the study area. A significant relationship exists between 1) elevation and mean annual rainfall; 2) elevation and the average number of days per year without rainfall; 3) annual stream runoff and the weighted mean elevation of a watershed; and 4) annual stream runoff and the elevation of the gaging station. A comparison of rainfall patterns between a high and a low elevation station indicated that annual and seasonal variations in rainfall are similiar along the elevational gradient. However, the upper elevation station had greater annual mean rainfall (4436 mm/yr compared to 3524 mn/yr) while the lower station had a greater variation in daily, monthly, and annual totals. Model estimates indicate that a total of 3864 mm/yr (444 hm3) of rainfall falls on the forest in an average year. The Tabonuco, Colorado, Palm, and Dwarf forest types receive an estimated annual rainfall of 3537, 4191, 4167, and 4849 mm/yr, respectively. Of the average annual rainfall input, 65% (2526 mm/yr) is converted to runoff and the remainding 35% (1338 mm/yr) is lost from the system by evapotranspiration and other abstractions. In comparsion to other tropical forests, the LEF as a whole has more evapotranspiration than many tropical montane forests but less than many lowland tropical forests.