Changes in the snow water equivalent in mountainous basins in Slovakia over recent decades
- Department of Land and Water Resources Management, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava, Bratislava, Slovakia
Abstract. Changes in snowpack and duration of snow cover can cause changes in the regime of snow and rain-snow induced floods. The recent IPCC report suggests that, in snow-dominated regions such as the Alps, the Carpathian Mountains and the northern parts of Europe, spring snowmelt floods may occur earlier in a future climate because of warmer winters, and flood hazards may increase during wetter and warmer winters, with more frequent rain and less frequent snowfall. The monitoring and modelling of snow accumulation and snow melting in mountainous catchments is rather complicated, especially due to the high spatial variability of snow characteristics and the limited availability of terrestrial hydrological data. An evaluation of changes in the snow water equivalent (SWE) during the period of 1961–2010 in the Upper Hron river basin, which is representative of the mountainous regions in Central Slovakia, is provided in this paper. An analysis of the snow cover was performed using simulated values of the snow water equivalent by a conceptual semi-distributed hydrological rainfall-runoff model. Due to the poor availability of the measured snow water equivalent data, the analysis was performed using its simulated values. Modelling of the SWE was performed in different altitude zones by a conceptual semi-distributed hydrological rainfall-runoff model. The evaluation of the results over the past five decades indicates a decrease in the simulated snow water equivalent and the snow duration in each altitude zone and in all months of the winter season. Significant decreasing trends were found for December, January and February, especially in the highest altitude zone.