Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 603–615 | Cite as

Decadal variability of floods in the northern foreland of the Tatra Mountains

  • Virginia Ruiz-Villanueva
  • Markus Stoffel
  • Bartłomiej Wyżga
  • Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz
  • Barbara Czajka
  • Tadeusz Niedźwiedź
Original Article


Floods in the northern foreland of the Tatra Mountains considerably contribute to the total flood damage in Poland. Therefore, the question whether the magnitude and frequency of floods have changed in this region is of high interest. This study aims at investigating the inter-decadal variability of magnitude, frequency and seasonality of floods since the mid-twentieth century, to better understand regional changes. The analysis was accomplished in a multi-temporal approach whereby trends are fitted to every possible combination of start and end years in a record. Detected trends were explained by estimating correlations between the investigated flood parameters and different large-scale climate indices for the northern hemisphere, and by trends found in intense precipitation indices, number of days with snow cover, cyclonic circulation types, temperature and moisture conditions. Catchment and channel changes that occurred in the region over the past decades were also considered. Results show that rivers in the area exhibit considerable inter-decadal variability of flows. The magnitude and direction of short-term trends are heavily influenced by this inter-decadal variability; however, certain patterns are apparent. More extreme, although perhaps less frequent floods are now likely to occur, with a shift in the seasonality, decreasing flood magnitudes in winter and increasing during autumn and spring. The identification of the factors contributing to the occurrence of flood events and their potential changes is valuable to enhance the flood management in the region and to improve the resilience of the population in this mountainous area.


River flow Flood hazard Climate change Trend Mann–Kendall test Tatra Mountains foreland 



This work was supported by the project FLORIST (Flood risk on the northern foothills of the Tatra Mountains; PSPB no. 153/2010). The project makes use of hydrometeorological data provided by the Institute of Meteorology and Water Management–State Research Institute (IMGW–PIB) and data published (1954–1981) in the annals “Opady Atmosferyczne”. Data for the period 1999–2012 were also supplemented from SYNOP messages database OGIMET (Valor 2013). Large-scale climate indices data were downloaded from Authors also thank Ryszard Kaczka, Iwona Pińskwar, Christophe Corona, and Annina Sorg for their valuable collaboration; and the two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments.

Supplementary material

10113_2014_694_MOESM1_ESM.docx (2.8 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 2,840 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Virginia Ruiz-Villanueva
    • 1
  • Markus Stoffel
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bartłomiej Wyżga
    • 3
    • 5
  • Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz
    • 4
  • Barbara Czajka
    • 5
  • Tadeusz Niedźwiedź
    • 5
  1., Institute of Geological SciencesUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Climatic Change and Climate Impacts, Institute for Environmental SciencesUniversity of GenevaCarougeSwitzerland
  3. 3.Institute of Nature ConservationPolish Academy of SciencesCracowPoland
  4. 4.Institute for Agricultural and Forest EnvironmentPolish Academy of SciencesPoznańPoland
  5. 5.Faculty of Earth SciencesUniversity of SilesiaSosnowiecPoland

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