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Rainfall interception by Santa Monica's municipal urban forest

Abstract

Effects of urban forests on rainfall interception and runoff reduction have been conceptualized, but not well quantified. In this study rainfall interception by street and park trees in Santa Monica, California is simulated. A mass and energy balance rainfall interception model is used to simulate rainfall interception processes (e.g., gross precipitation, free throughfall, canopy drip, stemflow, and evaporation). Annual rainfall interception by the 29,299 street and park trees was 193,168 m3 (6.6 m3/tree), or 1.6% of total precipitation. The annual value of avoided stormwater treatment and flood control costs associated with reduced runoff was $110,890 ($3.60/tree). Interception rate varied with tree species and sizes. Rainfall interception ranged from 15.3% (0.8 m3/tree) for a small Jacaranda mimosifolia (3.5 cm diameter at breast height) to 66.5% (20.8 m3/tree) for a mature Tristania conferta (38.1 cm). In a 25-year storm, interception by all street and park trees was 12,139.5 m3 (0.4%), each tree yielding $0.60 (0.4 m3/tree) in avoided flood control costs. Rainfall interception varied seasonally, averaging 14.8% during a 21.7 mm winter storm and 79.5% during a 20.3 mm summer storm for a large, deciduous Platanus acerifolia tree. Effects of differences in temporal precipitation patterns, tree population traits, and pruning practices on interception in Santa Monica, Modesto, and Sacramento, California are described.

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Xiao, Q., McPherson, E.G. Rainfall interception by Santa Monica's municipal urban forest. Urban Ecosystems 6, 291–302 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1023/B:UECO.0000004828.05143.67

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/B:UECO.0000004828.05143.67

  • urban forest
  • rainfall interception
  • evaporation
  • urban runoff reduction