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UDaily: UD researchers, Japanese colleague work to correlate raindrop size to forest ecology

UDaily: UD researchers, Japanese colleague work to correlate raindrop size to forest ecology

For many people, the well-known childhood rhyme “April showers bring May flowers” heralds the arrival of spring and conjures up images of warm weather, soaking rains and flowers bursting into bloom. But for Sean Hudson, a University of Delaware graduate student studying forest hydrology, April showers lead to science — specifically the science of raindrops.

For over a year, Hudson has been studying seasonal changes in the size of raindrops dripping from a tree canopy at Fair Hill in northeastern Maryland to understand how these changes ultimately can influence water resources.

The water cycle plays a key role in maintaining healthy ecosystem functions, which support trees, as well as plants, soil, animals, insects and microorganisms that live there.

Hudson is studying throughfall — rain that falls through or from the tree canopy during a rainstorm — and how the size of the raindrops that reach the forest floor change depending on two variables: meteorological conditions including precipitation, wind speed and temperature, and whether or not the tree canopy has leaves.