Natural Hazards

, Volume 71, Issue 1, pp 1–19 | Cite as

Risk occurrences of damaging frosts during the growing season of vegetables in the Elbe River lowland, the Czech Republic

  • Vera Potop
  • Pavel Zahraniček
  • Luboš Türkott
  • Petr Štěpánek
  • Josef Soukup
Original Paper


This study has, for the first time, analysed in detail the risk occurrences of the last spring frost, first fall frost and the length of the frost-free period during the growing season of vegetable crops at a high horizontal resolution of 10 km in the Elbe River lowland in the Czech Republic. The daily minimum air temperature from 116 grid points throughout the studied area for the period 1961–2011 was used. The daily values of minimum air temperature ranges of 0 to −1.1 °C, −1.2 to −2.2 °C and below −2.2 °C were considered to constitute mild, moderate and severe frost intensities, respectively. Firstly, the spatiotemporal variability of the date of the last spring frost, the date of the first fall frost and the length of the frost-free period in the Elbe River lowland is provided. Secondly, the estimation of the probability of a later date in the spring and an earlier date in the fall for various severe frost events and the length of the frost-free period is determined. Third, the changes in the timing of the last and first frosts of the three severities, as well as the length of the frost-free period, are evaluated. From 1961 to 2011, the Elbe River lowland has experienced a decrease in the number of frost days, while the length of the frost-free period between the last spring frost and the first fall frost has increased. The temporal evolution of the frost-free period anomalies displays two distinct periods: a shortening of the frost-free period in the 1960s and an intensified lengthening of the frost-free period since the 1980s. Whereas the latest spring frost has ended on an earlier date across the Elbe River lowland, the first frost date in the fall has generally been delayed to a later date. The dates of the last spring frost have advanced by −0.21 days per year on average. The fall dates are delayed up to 0.18 days per year, whereas the frost-free period is lengthening by up to 0.39 days per year on average. However, regional frost series suggests that the frost-free period exhibits a large amount of inter-annual variability. In terms of the growth of field vegetables, a late spring frost remains a risk factor, but the degree of risk has decreased. There is a 25 % chance of the occurrence of dangerous spring frosts during the planting of field vegetables after 3rd May, but after 15th May, the risk is only 10 %.


Elbe River lowland Late spring frost Early fall frost Frost-free period Vegetable crops 



This research was supported by S grant of MSMT CR and project CZ.1.07/2.3.00/20.0248. The authors are grateful to the editor V. Schenk and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vera Potop
    • 1
  • Pavel Zahraniček
    • 2
  • Luboš Türkott
    • 1
  • Petr Štěpánek
    • 3
  • Josef Soukup
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Agroecology and Biometeorology, Faculty of Agrobiology, Food and Natural ResourcesCzech University of Life Sciences PraguePragueCzech Republic
  2. 2.Global Change Research Centre AS CRBrnoCzech Republic
  3. 3.Czech Hydrometeorological InstituteBrnoCzech Republic

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