Barbara Spyt


Application of timberline morphometric analysis for detecting snow avalanche paths: A case study of the Tatra Mountain

Barbara Spyt, Ryszard J. Kaczka, Michał Lempa, Zofia Rączkowska

Geographia Polonica (2016) vol. 89, iss. 1, pp. 91-111 | Full text

Further information


The upper forest limit is principally controlled by climate factors, mainly temperature but locally also other factors, such as snow avalanches, debris flows, and wind throw. Therefore, the timberline course may be useas a proxy of these drivers. The aim of the study was to employ the morphometric features of the upper forest limit for remote detection of avalanche paths. We introduced the Morphometric Avalanche Index (MAI), which combine simple parameters such as: Perimeter Development, Altitudinal Difference, Elongation Ratio, Area, and the existence forest patches. This tool was tested in four valleys in the Tatra Mountains, wherein 103 known avalanche paths. The employment of MAI resulted in remote identification of 90% of avalanche paths existing and acknowledged in this region. Additionally 28 avalanche paths that had not been previously indicated as such were detected.

Keywords: snow avalanche, timberline, morphometry, remote sensing, Tatra Mountains Introduction The boundary

Barbara Spyt [], Faculty of Earth Sciences University of Silesia in Katowice, Będzińska 60, 41-200 Sosnowiec: Poland
Ryszard J. Kaczka [], 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
Zofia Rączkowska [], Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization Polish Academy of Sciences, Św. Jana 22, 31-018 Kraków, Poland