Spatiotemporal review of the torrential flood phenomenon in the Morava river basin

  • Ana M. Petrović Geographical Institute “Jovan Cvijić” of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Belgrade, Serbia
  • Ratko Ristić Faculty of Forestry of the Belgrade University, Belgrade, Serbia
Keywords: torrential floods, spatiotemporal distribution, Zapadna Morava, Južna Morava, Velika Morava


Phenomenon of torrential floods as the most destructive and the most frequent natural hazards in Serbia with serious socioeconomic, cultural and environmental consequences deserve special attention. In this paper, data collection strategy and data analysis with the aim of spatiotemporal characterization of the torrential flood phenomenon in the largest national, Morava river basin, are presented. A dataset (derived from the Inventory of torrential floods in Serbia) of 479 registered torrential flood events with over 84 casualties for the period 1926-2013 is presented. Monthly distribution of registered torrential floods indicates that the majority of events with the highest share of death toll occurred in the late spring, from May to the end of June. According to the annual distribution there is a linear increase of torrential flood occurrence in the course of 88 years, but decrease of death toll is found. The greatest number of torrential flood events and casualties is registered in the Južna Morava river basin (watersheds of Nišava, Toplica, Veternica, Jablanica). The results of this work can be of great value in the implementation of the Flood Directive of the European Commission on a river basin level as well as for the future natural hazards information system in Serbia.


Abbas, A., Amjath-Babu, T. S., Kächele, H., Müller, K. (2015) Non- structural flood risk mitigation under developing country conditions: an analysis on the determinants of willingness to pay for flood insurance in rural Pakistan, Natural Hazards, Vol. 75, No. 3, pp. 2119-2135.

Abbott, P. L. (2008) Natural Disaster. New York: McGraw-Hill Science/Engineering/Math.

Ballesteros-Canovas, J. A., Czajka, B., Janecka, K., Lempa, M., Kaczka, R. J., Stoffel, M. (2015) Flash floods in the Tatra Mountain streams: Frequency and triggers, Science of The Total Environment, Vol. 511, pp. 639–648.

Borga, M., Gaume, E., Creutin, J. D., Marchi, L. (2008) Surveying flash floods: gauging the ungauged extremes, Hydrological Processes, Vol. 22, No.18, pp. 3883–3885.

Calianno, M., Ruin, I., Gourley, J. J. (2013) Supplementing flash flood reports with impact classifications, Journal of Hydrology, Vol. 477, pp. 1–16.

Dragicević, S., Filipović, D., Kostadinov, S., Ristić, R., Novković, I., Živković N., Andjelković, G., Abolmasov, B., Šećerov, V., Đurđić, S. (2011) Natural hazard assessment for land-use planning in Serbia. Intternational Journal of Environmental Research, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 371-380.

Dragićević, S., Ristić, R., Živković, N., Kostadinov, S., Tošić, R., Novković, I., Borisavljević, A., Radić, Z. (2013) Floods in Serbia in 2010 – Case Study: The Kolubara and Pcinja River Basins, in Loczy, D. (ed.) Geomorphological impacts of extreme weather: Case studies from central and eastern Europe, Heidelberg: Springer Geography, pp. 155-170.

Garambois, P. A., Larnier, K., Roux, H., Labat, D., Dartus, D. (2014) Analysis of flash flood-triggering rainfall for a process- oriented hydrological model, Atmospheric Research, Vol. 137, pp. 14–24.

Gavrilović, S. (1975) Bujični tokovi u SR Srbiji. Belgrade: Republički fond voda, Institut za vodoprivredu erozionih područja Šumarskog fakulteta. [Gavrilović, S. (1975) Torrents in Serbia. Belgrade: Republic Water Fund and Institute of erosion area management of the Faculty of Forestry].

Gourley, J. J., Erlingis, J. M., Smith, T. M., Ortega, K. L., Hong, Y. (2010) Remote collection and analysis of witness reports on flash floods, Journal of Hydrology, Vol. 394, No. 1–2, pp. 53-62.

Herschy, R. W., (2005) The world’s maximum observed floods, Flow Measurement and Instrumentation, Vol. 13, pp. 231–235.

Institut zа vodoprivredu „Jаroslаv Černi“ (2001) Vodoprivrednа osnovа Republike Srbije. Beogrаd: Ministаrstvo zа poljoprivredu, šumаrstvo i vodoprivredu. [Jaroslav Černi Institute for the Development of Water Resources (2001) Water Management Plan of the Republic of Serbia. Belgrade: Ministry of agriculture, forestry and water management of the Republic of Serbia.]

Jonkman, S. N. (2005) Global perspectives on loss of human life caused by floods, Natural Hazards, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp. 151–175.

Kostadinov, S., Zlatić, M., Dragović, N., Gavrilović, Z. (2006) Serbia and Montenegro, in Boardman, J. and Poesen J. (eds.) Soil Erosion in Europe. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, pp. 271–279.

Kostadinov, S., Borisavljević, A., Mlađan, D. (2014) Torrents and Torrential Floods in Serbia - Characteristics and Possibilities of its Control, in Zlatić, M. and Kostadinov, S. (eds.) Advances in GeoEcology. Reiskirchen: Catena Verlag, pp. 156-172.

Llasat, M. C., Marcos, R., Llasat-Botija, M., Gilabert, J., Turco, M., Quintana-Seguí, P. (2014) Flash flood evolution in North- Western Mediterranean, Atmospheric Research, Vol. 149, pp. 230–243.

Marchi, L., Borga, M., Preciso, E., Gaume, E. (2010) Characterisation of selected extreme flash floods in Europe and implications for flood risk management, Journal of Hydrology, Vol. 394, No. 1-2, pp. 118-133.

Modrick, T. M., Georgakakos, K. P. (2015) The character and causes of flash flood occurrence changes in mountainous small basins of Southern California under projected climatic change, Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies, Vol. 3, pp. 312–336.

Münchener Rückversicherungs-Gesellschaft (2009) Geo Natural Catastrophes 2008: Analyses, Assessments, Positions, Munich.

Petrović, A. M. (2014) Factors of torrential flood occurrence in Serbia. Belgrade: Faculty of Forestry, University of Belgrade, Doctoral dissertation, 207 pp. [Petrović, A. M. (2014a) Faktori nastanka bujičnih poplava u Srbiji. Beograd: Šumarski fakultet, Univerzitet u Beogradu, Doktorska disertacija, 207 str.]

Petrović, A., Kostadinov, S., Dragićević, S. (2014) The Inventory and Characterization of Torrential Flood Phenomenon in Serbia, Polish Journal of Environmental Studies, Vol. 23, No. 3, pp. 823-830.

Petrović, A. M., Dragićević, D. S., Radić, B. P., Milanović Pešić, A. Z. (2015) Historical Torrential Flood Events in the Kolubara River Basin. Natural Hazards, Vol. 79, No. 1, pp. 537-547.

Petrović, A. M. (2015a). Torrential flood events in the Južna Morava River Basin, IInd International Conference „Natural Hazards – Links between Science and Practice“, Saransk - Russia, Proceedings, pp. 356-362.

Petrović, A. M. (2015b). Challenge of torrential flood risk management, Journal of Geographical Institute “Jovan Cvijić” of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Vol. 65, No. 2, pp. 131-143.

Ristić, R., Radić, B., Vasiljević, N. (2009) Characteristics of maximal discharges on torrential watersheds in Serbia. Bulletin of Serbian Geographical Society, Vol. 89, No. 4, pp. 161- 189.

Ristić, R., Radić, B., Nikić, Z., Trivan, G., Vasiljević, N., Dragićević, S., Živković, N., Radosavljević, Z. (2011a) Erosion control and protection from torrential floods in Serbia - spatial aspects, SPATIUM, No. 25, pp. 1-6.

Ristić, R., Radić, B., Vasiljević, N., Nikić, Z. (2011b) Land use change for flood protection - a prospective study for the restoration of the river Jelašnica watershed, Bulletin of the Faculty of Forestry, No. 103, pp. 115-130.

Ristić, R., Kostadinov, S., Radić, B., Trivan, G., Nikić, Z. (2012) Torrential floods in Serbia – man made and natural hazards, 12th Congress Interprävent, Grenoble - France, Proceedings, pp. 771-779.

Šakota V. (1989): Tragom zapisa o poplavama prema srpskim pisanim izvorima od XIII do XIX veka, JUSOP, Kopaonik – Srbija. Zbornik radova, pp. 274-282. [Šakota, V. (1989) Track records of floods according to written sources from XIII to XIX century, the JUSOP Conference, Kopaonik: Serbia. Proceedings, pp. 274-282.]

Shao, M., Gong, Z., Xu, X. (2014) Risk assessment of rainstorm and flood disasters in China between 2004 and 2009 based on gray fixed weight cluster analysis, Natural Hazards, Vol. 71, No. 2, pp. 1025-1052.

Wang, Z., Lai, C., Chen, X., Yang, B., Zhao, S., Bai, X. (2015) Flood hazard risk assessment model based on random forest, Journal of Hydrology, Vol. 527, pp.1130-1141.

Review Paper