Standard Article

43 Evaporation of Intercepted Rainfall

Part 4. Hydrometeorology

  1. Jorge Soares David1,
  2. Fernanda Valente1,
  3. John HC Gash2

Published Online: 15 APR 2006

DOI: 10.1002/0470848944.hsa046

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

How to Cite

David, J. S., Valente, F. and Gash, J. H. 2006. Evaporation of Intercepted Rainfall. Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences. 4:43.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Tapada da Ajuda, Lisboa, Portugal

  2. 2

    Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2006


When rain falls on to a vegetated surface (gross rainfall), a part is intercepted by the canopy and evaporated directly back into the atmosphere (interception loss). The remainder of the rainfall reaches the ground (net rainfall) either through gaps and by dripping from the canopy (throughfall), or by running down the main stem (stemflow). The canopy storage capacity is the minimum amount of water necessary to completely saturate the canopy surface. Interception loss is conventionally measured as the difference between the incident gross rainfall, and the sum of throughfall and stemflow. It is usually a significant component of the overall evaporation and may play an important role in watershed water balance. The total amount of interception loss depends on the rate of evaporation from the wet canopy, the canopy storage capacity, and the distribution and intensity of rainfall. Interception loss is particularly high in forests due to their high aerodynamic roughnesses. Available models range from empirical relationships to physically based conceptual models. Within the latter, the Rutter-type models are those that have been taken up as the more generally applicable technique. Most of the models rely on the use of the Penman–Monteith equation to estimate the evaporation rate. Current research is largely directed at modeling in horizontally heterogeneous vegetation, where the Penman–Monteith equation may not be valid.


  • rainfall interception;
  • interception loss;
  • throughfall;
  • stemflow;
  • canopy storage;
  • evaporation;
  • wet canopy;
  • interception measurement;
  • interception modeling