Geographia Polonica (2015) vol. 88, iss. 2

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The recent timberline changes in the Tatra Mountains: A case study of the Mengusovská Valley (Slovakia) and the Rybi Potok Valley (Poland)

Ryszard J. Kaczka, Michał Lempa, Barbara Czajka, Karolina Janecka, Zofia Rączkowska, Juraj Hreško, Gabriel Bugár

Geographia Polonica (2015) vol. 88, iss. 2, pp. 71-83
doi: https://doi.org/10.7163/GPol.0016

Abstract

A comparison was done of the timberline course from the mid-20th and beginning of 21st century, in Mengusovská Valley (Slovakia) and Rybi Potok Valley (Poland). These are two valleys in the High Tatra Mts. Aerial photo sand satellite images were used to assess the changes of the timberline in the two valleys. The course of the timberline ecotone in both valleys is similar. In both valleys, the stable timberline section is almost half of the total timberline length. In both valleys there has been an increase in the elevation of the timberline (on average by 10 m in the Mengusovská Valley and 15 m in the Rybi Potok Valley), and free spaces have been increasingly closing up. The progressive changes of the timberline are mainly due to the limit placed on human economic activity, and to climate warming. Inactive avalanche paths have led to an enlargement of the forest area in both valleys. The reduction of avalanche activity is the direct result of climate warming in the Tatra Mts. and from the decrease in the amount of snow in winters.

Keywords: snow avalanches, Carpathians, Tatra Mountains, photointerpretation, reafforestation, timberline ecotone

Ryszard J. Kaczka [ryszard.kaczka@us.edu.pl], Faculty of Earth Sciences University of Silesia in Katowice Będzińska 60, 41 -200 Sosnowiec: Poland
Michał Lempa, Faculty of Earth Sciences University of Silesia in Katowice Będzińska 60, 41-200 Sosnowiec: Poland
Barbara Czajka, Faculty of Earth Sciences University of Silesia in Katowice Będzińska 60, 41 -200 Sosnowiec: Poland
Karolina Janecka, Faculty of Earth Sciences University of Silesia in Katowice Będzińska 60, 41-200 Sosnowiec: Poland
Zofia Rączkowska [raczk@zg.pan.krakow.pl], Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization Polish Academy of Sciences, 31-018 Krakow, Sw. Jana 22, Poland
Juraj Hreško, Department of Ecology and Environmentalistics Faculty of Natural Sciences Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra
Gabriel Bugár, Department of Ecology and Environmentalistics Faculty of Natural Sciences Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra