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

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The influence of snow avalanches on the timberline in the Babia Góra Massif, Western Carpathians

Barbara Czajka, Adam Łajczak, Ryszard J. Kaczka

Geographia Polonica (2015) vol. 88, iss. 2, pp. 147-161
doi: https://doi.org/10.7163/GPol.0021

Abstract

Avalanches are one of the most important abiotic factors influencing the timberline on a worldwide scale. In the case of Babia Góra, avalanches are found to affect more than ¹⁄³ of the length of the timberline, locally lowering it by as much as 350 m in distance. The timberline under the influence of avalanche processes is associated with steep slopes (>30°), with 90% of this being located on the massif’s northern slope. In the long run (1964-2009), around the whole massif the timberline shows a high degree of stability along 79% of its length. It proved possible to reconstruct avalanche events along the largest avalanche path in the examined massif, the Szeroki Żleb gully. Nine such events are seen to have occurred over the past 120 years, with seven of these characterising the last 50 years. The avalanche(s) occurring in winter 1975/1976 had the greatest impact on the timberline in the Szeroki Żleb gully over the examined period.

Keywords: timberline, snow avalanche, Babia Góra Mountain, Norway spruce, image interpretation, dendrogeomorphology

Barbara Czajka, Faculty of Earth Sciences University of Silesia in Katowice Będzińska 60, 41 -200 Sosnowiec: Poland
Adam Łajczak [alajczak@up.krakow.pl], Institute of Geography Pedagogical University of Krakow Podchorążych 2, 30 -084 Krakow: Poland
Ryszard J. Kaczka [ryszard.kaczka@us.edu.pl], Faculty of Earth Sciences University of Silesia in Katowice Będzińska 60, 41 -200 Sosnowiec: Poland