Seasonal variability of interception and water wettability of common oak leaves
Wettability of leaves and the resulting amount of interception loss of tree crowns is an important component of the atmosphere-tree stand-soil system balance. In the study, we hypothesized that changes occurring in leaves during the vegetation period can significantly affect the amount of rainwater retained by plants and wettability of leaves which is expressed by the contact angle between drops and leaves. We evaluated the hypothesis based on measurement series, which combined direct spraying of leaves with water at different stages of development at a constant temperature with observations made with an electron scanner which was used to determine changes occurring within a leaf, while the photographic method was used to analyze the contact angle of drops. The study involved common oak (Quercus robur). Samples of twigs derived from this species were collected in the area of Przedbórz (Poland) forest district, in particular from the trees with well-developed crowns. Twigs were collected from 10 trees of similar age (35–40 years). The resulting database contained experimental data on changes of raindrop adhesion on oak leaves throughout the growing season. The internal contact angle of drops was within the range of 150° on the upper side of the leaf and 160° on the underside in May, up to 15° and 35° in November on the upper and underside of the leaves. Loss of interception was established at 6% at the beginning of the growing season up to 22% in autumn. It was concluded that the wettability and the level of interception increases in line with the age of a leaf.