Rainfall Characteristics in a Tropical Montane Cloud Forest, Gunung Alab, Crocker Range Park, Sabah, Malaysia

Maznah Mahali, Kuraji Koichiro, Kamlisa Uni Kamlun, Kawi Bidin, Anand Nainar, Rimi Repin, Geoffary Gunsalam, Fera Cleophas

Transactions on Science and Technology, 7(3), 80 - 89.

Back to main issue

Generally, the tropical montane cloud forest (TMCF) has known to be the headwater for rivers which are the vital source of freshwater for the downstream user. Though one of the important information for freshwater management is the rainfall characteristics, for TMCF catchment it is still less explored in Sabah. This paper investigates the temporal pattern and variability of rainfall in Gunung Alab experimental catchment (GAEC) in the Crocker Range Park (CRP), Sabah, Malaysia. The analyses were based on rainfall observation data obtained in January 2006 to December 2018. As a comparison, similar analyses were also conducted to the rainfall observation data from a meteorological station in the west coast area of Sabah referred in this study as the coastal area of Kota Kinabalu (CAKK). The average annual rainfall for the 13 years data was 3527.1 mm and 2824.8 mm in GAEC and CAKK, respectively. The yearly average rain days in GAEC was 223 days and in CAKK was 157.1 days. Both stations received maximum monthly rainfall during the inter-monsoon season which generally occurred in April - May and September - October. In general, GAEC experienced low intensity of rains in long-duration whereas, CAKK experienced more extreme rainfall (average 2.4 ± 1.9 day yr-1) compared to GAEC (0.3 ± 0.9 days yr-1). Based on the set of rainfall data, total rainfall of 129.4 mm day-1 and 224.6 mm day-1 can be expected to be equal or exceeded once in 26 years at a probability of 3.85%, in GAEC and CAKK, respectively. In GAEC, one, two, five and ten years of recurrence interval, the expected maximum daily rainfall was estimated at 65.2 mm day-1, 80.7 mm day-1, 99.9 mm day-1, and 114.1 mm day-1. Whereas, in CAKK, the one, two, five and ten years of recurrence interval of maximum rainfall can be expected at 77.2 mm day-1, 136 mm day-1, 168.5 mm day-1 and 196.7 mm day-1, respectively. The El Niño episodes reduce 10.5 % - 18 % and 2.7% - 27.9% of annual rainfall from the long-term average in GAEC and CAKK. These findings give insight into the potential capacity of GAEC as headwater catchment and reflect the sensitivity of the local rainfall distribution influenced by natural phenomenon namely, the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) within the observation period.

KEYWORDS: Rainfall, Rainfall pattern, Rainfall variability, Tropical montane cloud forest, El Niño

Download this PDF file

  1. Aiba, S. I. & Kitayama, K. 2002. Effects of the 1997–98 El Niño drought on rain forests of Mount Kinabalu, Borneo. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 18(2), 215-230.
  2. Angulo-Martínez, M. & Beguería, S. 2009. Estimating rainfall erosivity from daily precipitation records: A comparison among methods using data from the Ebro Basin (NE Spain). Journal of Hydrology, 379(1-2), 111-121.
  3. Begueŕia, S., Serrano-Notivoli, R. & Tomas-Burguera, M. 2018. Computation of rainfall erosivity from daily precipitation amounts. Science of the Total Environment, 637, 359-373.
  4. Bruijnzeel, L. A. 2001. Hydrology of tropical montane cloud forests: a reassessment. In: Gladwell, J.S. (ed.). Proceedings of the Second International Colloquium on Hydrology and Water Management of the Humid Tropics. UNESCO, Paris and CATHALAC, Panama Ci (Vol. 1), pp. 1–18.
  5. Bruijnzeel, L. A., Mulligan, M. & Scatena, F. N. 2011. Hydrometeorology of tropical montane cloud forests: Emerging patterns. Hydrological Processes, 25(3), 465–498.
  6. Bruijnzeel, L. A., Waterloo, M., Proctor, J., Kuiters, A. & Kotterink, B. 1993. Hydrological observations in montane rain forest on Gunung Silam, Saba, Malaysia, with special reference to the Massenerhebung effect. Journal of Ecology, 81(1), 145–167.
  7. Chen, C. S. & Chen, Y. L. 2003. The rainfall characteristics of Taiwan. Monthly Weather Review, 131(7), 1323-1341.
  8. Crausbay, S. D., Frazier, A. G., Giambelluca, T. W., Longman, R. J. & Hotchkiss, S. C. 2014. Moisture status during a strong El Niño explains a tropical montane cloud forest’s upper limit. Oecologia, 175(1), 273-284.
  9. Diaz, H. F., Grosjean, M. & Graumlich, L. 2003. Climate variability and change in high elevation regions: past, present and future. Climatic change, 59(1-2), 1-4.
  10. de Assunção Montenegro, A. A., dos Santos Souza, T. E. M., de Souza, E. R. & Montenegro, S. M. G. L. (2018). Temporal dynamics of soil moisture and rainfall erosivity in a tropical volcanic archipelago. Journal of Hydrology, 563, 737-749.
  11. Foster, P. 2001. The potential negative impacts of global climate change on tropical montane cloud forests. Earth-Science Reviews, 55(1-2), 73-106.
  12. Gilmour, D. 2014. Forests and Water Supply. Scientific American, 104(21), 525–525.
  13. Gomyo, M., Kuraji, K. & Kitayama, K. 2011. Water balance, flow duration and frequency in a small experimental watershed in Kinabalu Park, Sabah. Journal of Tropical Biology and Conservation, 8, 63-71.
  14. Hostettler, S. 2002. Tropical montane cloud forests: a challenge for conservation. Bois et Forêts Des Tropiques, 274(4), 19–31.
  15. Houze, R. A. 2012. Orographic effects on precipitating clouds. Review of Geophysics, 50, RG1001.
  16. Jarvis, A. & Mulligan, M. (2011). The climate of cloud forests. In: Bruijnzeel, L., Scatena, F. & Hamilton L. (Eds.). Tropical Montane Cloud Forests: Science for Conservation and Management (International Hydrology Series, pp. 39-56). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  17. Kappes, H. 2013. Genetics and morphology of the genus Tritetrabdella (Hirudinea, Haemadipsidae) from the mountainous rain forests of Sabah, Borneo, reveal a new species with two new subspecies. Contributions to Zoology, 82(4), 185–197.
  18. Kermavnar, J. & Vilhar, U. 2017. Canopy precipitation interception in urban forests in relation to stand structure. Urban Ecosystems, 20(6), 1373-1387.
  19. Kuraji, K., Punyatrong, K. & Suzuki, M. 2001. Altitudinal increase in rainfall in Mae Chaem watershed, Thailand. Journal of Meterological Society of Japan, 79(1B), 353 ̶ 363.
  20. Lamb, H. H. 1972. Climate: Present, Past and Future: Volume 2: Climatic History and the Future. Routledge Revivals.
  21. Latiff, A., Ahmad, B. & Ibrahim, A. Z. 2002. An Account and Preliminary Checklist of the Angiosperms and Gymnosperms of Crocker Range, Sabah. Asean Review of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation (ARBEC).
  22. Littlewood, I. G., Young, P. C. & Croke, B. F. W. 2010. Preliminary comparison of two methods for identifying rainfall–streamflow model parameters insensitive to data time-step: The Wye at Cefn Brwyn, Plynlimon, Wals. Proceedings of the British Hydrological Society’s Third International Symposium, Role of Hydrology in Managing the Consequences of a Changing Global Environment. 19 – 23 July, 2010. Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. pp 539-543.
  23. Los, S. O., Street-Perrott, F. A., Loader, N. J., Froyd, C. A., Cuní-Sanchez, A. & Marchant, R. A. 2019. Sensitivity of a tropical montane cloud forest to climate change, present, past and future: Mt. Marsabit, N. Kenya. Quaternary Science Reviews, 218, 34-48.
  24. Meher-Homji, V. 1991. Probable impact of deforestation processes on hydrological process. Climatic Change, 19, 163–173.
  25. Ng, C. K. C., Sikui, J. J., Nur Syafiqah, S. K. & Nilus, R. 2019. Precipitation trend and heterogeneity of Sabah, North Borneo. Sepilok Bulletin, 28, 19-43.
  26. Oliveira, R. S., Eller, C. B., Bittencourt, P. R. L. & Mulligan, M. 2014. The hydroclimatic and ecophysiological basis of cloud forest distributions under current and projected climates. Annals of Botany, 113(6), 909–920.
  27. Peh, K. S.-H., Soh, M. C. K., Sodhi, N. S., Laurance, W. F., Ong, D. J. & Clements, R. 2011. Up in the Clouds: Is Sustainable Use of Tropical Montane Cloud Forests Possible in Malaysia? BioScience, 61(1), 27–38.
  28. Ponette-González, A. G., Marín-Spiotta, E., Brauman, K. A., Farley, K. A., Weathers, K. C. & Young, K. R. 2014. Hydrologic connectivity in the high-elevation tropics: Heterogeneous responses to land change. BioScience, 64(2), 92–104.
  29. Ray, D. K., Nair, U. S., Lawton, R. O., Welch, R. M. & Pielke, R. A. 2006. Impact of land use on Costa Rican tropical montane cloud forests: Sensitivity of orographic cloud formation to deforestation in the plains. Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres, 111(2), 1–16.
  30. Repin, R., Majuakim, L., Suleiman, M., Nilus, R., Mujih, H. & Gunsalam, G. 2012. Checklist of trees in Crocker Range Park Permanent Research Plot, Sabah, Malaysia. Journal of Tropical Biology and Conservation, 9(1), 127–141.
  31. Salimun, E., Tangang, F., Juneng, L., Behera, S. K. & Yu, W. 2014. Differential impacts of conventional El Niño versus El Niño Modoki on Malaysian rainfall anomaly during winter monsoon. International journal of climatology, 34(8), 2763-2774.
  32. Scatena, F. N., Bruijnzeel, L. A., Bubb, P. & Das, S. 2010. Setting the stage. Tropical Montane Cloud Forests: Science for Conservation and Management (1st edition). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  33. Suhaila, J., Deni, S. M., Zin, W. W. & Jemain, A. A. 2010. Trends in peninsular Malaysia rainfall data during the southwest monsoon and northeast monsoon seasons: 1975–2004. Sains Malaysiana, 39(4), 533-542.
  34. Suleiman, M., Masundang, D. P. & Akiyama, H. 2017. The Mosses of Crocker Range Park, Malaysian Borneo. PhytoKeys, 88, 71–107.
  35. Susilo, G. E., Yamamoto, K., Imai, T., Ishii, Y., Fukami, H. & Sekine, M. 2013. The effect of ENSO on rainfall characteristics in the tropical peatland areas of Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 58(3), 539-548.
  36. Tangang, F., Farzanmanesh, R., Mirzaei, A., Salimun, E., Jamaluddin, A. F. & Juneng, L. 2017. Characteristics of precipitation extremes in Malaysia associated with El Niño and La Niña events. International Journal of Climatology, 37, 696-716.
  37. Tongkul, F., Benedick, H. & Chang, F. K. 2006. Geology of slopes in the Crocker range mountain, Sabah, Malaysia. Nepal Geological Society, 34, 73–80.
  38. Walsh, R. P. D. & Newbery, D. M. 1999. The ecoclimatology of Danum, Sabah, in the context of the world's rainforest regions, with particular reference to dry periods and their impact. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences, 354(1391), 1869-1883.
  39. Walsh, R. P., Ellison, S., Los, S. O., Bidin, K., Sayer, A. M. & Tussin, A. M. 2013. Changes in large rainstorm magnitude–frequency over the last century in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo and their geomorphological implications. The Holocene, 23(12), 1824-1840.
  40. Wen, P. P. & Sidik, M. J. 2000. Impacts of rainfall, temperature and recent El Niños on fisheries and agricultural products in the west coast of Sabah. Borneo Science, 28, 73 - 85.
  41. Zhang, J., Zhou, L., Ma, R., Jia, Y., Yang, F., Zhou, H. & Cao, X. 2019. Influence of soil moisture content and soil and water conservation measures on time to runoff initiation under different rainfall intensities. CATENA, 182, 104172.
  42. Zheng, J., Fan, J., Zhang, F., Yan, S. & Xiang, Y. 2018. Rainfall partitioning into throughfall, stemflow and interception loss by maize canopy on the semi-arid Loess Plateau of China. Agricultural water management, 195, 25-36.
  43. Zhu, L., Meng, Z., Zhang, F. & Markowski, P., M. 2017. The influence of sea-and land-breeze circulations on the diurnal variability in precipitation over a tropical island. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 17, 13213–13232.