Abstract: In addition to rain and snow, ecosystems can acquire water through the direct condensation of fog or dew onto surfaces. Other than in some unique ecosystems, such as cloud forests and some arid deserts, these sources of water are generally considered to be of secondary importance for ecosystem function. Assessing the actual impact of these occult precipitations on both the total water budget and on plant water use is not generally well known. Beginning with an example from a nearly sterile environment, the top of the Greenland ice sheet, I'll discuss how the formation of surface fogs and condensation of super cooled water emerges as a surprisingly critical determinant of the total water budget. In light of this, we'll discuss ongoing work from semi-arid forests in Colorado where regular dewfall onto the canopy is hypothesized to regularly improve plant water status.
For more information about Dr. Berkelhammer's research, visit his lab page.