Fog deposition to a Tillandsia carpet in the Atacama Desert
- 1Institute of Landscape Ecology, Department of Climatology, University of Münster, Münster, Germany
- 2Atacama Desert Center ADC, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and Universidad Bolivariana, Iquique, Chile
- 3Institute of Geography, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago de Chile, Chile
- *now at: Institute of Hydrology and Meteorology, TU Dresden, Dresden, Germany
Abstract. In the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on earth, fog deposition plays an important role for the water balance and for the survival of vulnerable ecosystems. The eddy covariance method, previously applied for the quantification of fog deposition to forests in various parts of the world, was used for the first time to measure deposition of fog water to a desert. In this exploratory study we estimate the amount of water available for the ecosystem by deposition and determine the relevant processes driving fog deposition. This is especially important for the species Tillandsia landbecki living in coastal Atacama at the limit of plant existence with fog and dew being the only sources of water. Between 31 July and 19 August 2008 approximately 2.5 L m−2 of water were made available through deposition. Whole-year deposition was estimated as 25 L m−2. Turbulent upward fluxes occurred several times during the evenings and are explained by the formation of radiation fog. In connection with that, underestimates of the deposition are assumed. More detailed studies covering various seasons and all parameters and fluxes contributing to the local energy balance are suggested. This will help to further develop understanding about the processes of (i) deposition of water to the desert, and (ii) intensification of advection fog through additional formation of radiation fog.