Cloud water can be a significant hydrologic input to mountain forests. Because it is a precipitation source that is vulnerable to climate change, it is important to quantify amounts of cloud water input at watershed and regional scales. During this study, cloud water and rain samples were collected monthly for 2 years at sites on windward and leeward East Maui. The difference in isotopic composition between volume-weighted average cloud water and rain samples was 1.4??? ??18O and 12??? ??2H for the windward site and 2.8??? ??18O and 25??? ??2H for the leeward site, with the cloud water samples enriched in 18O and 2H relative to the rain samples. A summary of previous literature shows that fog and/or cloud water is enriched in 18O and 2H compared to rain at many locations around the world; this study documents cloud water and rain isotopic composition resulting from weather patterns common to montane environments in the trade wind latitudes. An end-member isotopic composition for cloud water was identified for each site and was used in an isotopic mixing model to estimate the proportion of precipitation input from orographic clouds. Orographic cloud water input was 37% of the total precipitation at the windward site and 46% at the leeward site. This represents an estimate of water input to the forest that could be altered by changes in cloud base altitude resulting from global climate change or deforestation.
Additional publication details
Cloud water in windward and leeward mountain forests: The stable isotope signature of orographic cloud water