Large wood export regulated by the pattern and intensity of precipitation along a latitudinal gradient in the Japanese archipelago

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Abstract

[1] We examined the relationships between large wood (LW) export and precipitation patterns and intensity by analyzing the data on the annual volume of LW removed from 42 reservoirs and the daily precipitation at or near the reservoir sites. We also calculated the effective precipitation by considering the antecedent precipitation. Both daily and effective precipitation data were used as explanatory variables to explain LW export. The model selection revealed that the precipitation pattern and intensity controlling LW export varied with latitude in the Japanese archipelago. In small watersheds with narrow channel widths and low discharges, mass movements, such as landslides and debris flows, are major factors in the production and transport of LW. In this case, the effective precipitation required to initiate mass movements regulated the LW export and did not vary with the latitude. In intermediate and large watersheds with wide channel widths and high stream discharges, heavy rainfall and subsequent floods regulated buoyant depth, influencing the initiation of LW movement. In southern and central Japan, intense rainfall accompanied by typhoons or localized torrential downpours causes geomorphic disturbances, which introduce abundant pieces of LW into the channels. However, these pieces continue to be removed by repeated rainfall events. Therefore, LW export is supply-limited and potentially produces less LW accumulation. Conversely, in northern Japan, where typhoons and torrential downpours are rare, LW export is transport-limited because LW pieces recruited by bank erosion, tree mortality, and windthrow accumulate and persist on valley floors. These pieces may be easily exported by infrequent flooding.

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